2005 – The Beginning
The AKD School was founded in 2005 by Professor Richard Hicks, an American Professor of English language, and Mr. Kamnat Soem, a former Buddhist Monk of ten years. Their vision was to give underprivileged Cambodian children the tools to build themselves a better future by providing them with free English language classes – an area which governmental schools lack despite the English language being in such high demand. Professor Richard Hicks opened the AKD school in the Cambodian city of Battambang, where it was managed by both, Professor Richard Hicks and Kamnat Soem . Richard Hicks also financed the whole project.
2011 – Year of Changes
In 2011, Professor Richard Hicks passed away. AKD had lost one of the founders and the sponsor of the school. Kamnat and his family decided to carry on with the project. They received support from the family of Mr. Hicks for the following five years to make the plan happen. But they still had to restructure and reorganise the system to continue with the language school.
2014 – Another Location Change
When rent at the previous location rose several times, the family decided to change it. The school then moved to the location where it remains today. With this move the school was deprived of any classrooms and Kamnat was forced to build his own out of any materials he had at hand. To this day the lessons continue in these makeshift buildings.
2015 – New House
This year, Kamnat’s family sold their house to move to the current school ground. For the first time a couple of volunteers asked if they could stay overnight. The family set up the first bed for a homestay. These were the people who created the AKD facebook page. During that year more volunteers would join the school on an ad hoc basis and stayed overnight in an improvised room.
2016 – New Ways
Sponsorship from the children of Richard Hicks ended that year. To ensure the livelihood of the family and school they had to find new ways to finance both themselves and the school. Kamnat began to give Tuk Tuk and Bicycle Tours to tourists. As the sponsorship ended the system could no longer afford to pay all of the local teachers. Therefore, the idea of a volunteer program came up, to ensure that the students’ education continued. A workaway page was created which had a big impact on the program. To make it more comfortable for the volunteers, the family used the money from selling their house to built the green volunteers’ house in 2016.
2016 – AKD Online
A volunteer created the AKD School homepage to promote the school.
2018 – Improving
Three new classrooms are being constructed for AKD. The conditions in the existing classrooms are unfavorable, especially when the rain pounds on the roof. Because of this, the school collected money for the construction of a new school building. The local construction workers completed the new structure in March. Since April the classrooms are in use.
A new school system has been set up by two visionary volunteers from Switzerland. The girls came to volunteer in February and discovered a lack of system for teaching the children. Within seven weeks they had set up a whole semester plan according to the level of the classes, organised school books to follow, and started library lessons to make sure that the children learn to read. Other volunteers helped by adding teaching tips, game ideas and donating a fair amount of educational books to complete the system. The school is an ongoing project and enthusiastic and responsible volunteers are always welcome to continue to help the school and its many students look forward to a brighter future.
“Education is the best passport to the future”