dance cambodia

An exchange of art and culture which carries with it a message of peace and caring.

The Harpswell Foundation

Young women's attentive faces

Mission and Strategy
The mission of the Harpswell Foundation is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia and the developing world.

Our strategy is to focus on a relatively small number of the brightest young people possessing leadership potential and to nourish that potential. In particular, we provide housing, education, and leadership training for children and young women.

About the Harpswell Foundation
The Harpswell Foundation is an American based 501c3 tax-exempt organization created in 1999, with a mission to provide education, housing, and leadership training to children and young women in the developing world. In May of 2007, we became an officially registered Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) in Cambodia.

All major projects of the Foundation so far have taken place in Cambodia, a country in desperate need after essentially all of its educated class was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. In June 2005, the Harpswell Foundation completed a four-room primary school building in the village of Tramung Chrum, about 50 miles from Phnom Penh. We maintain the school and its teachers and further have created a scholarship program in which the brightest graduating sixth graders from Tramung Chrum are sent to another village to attend secondary school. We are also building a motor-cycle repair shop, near Tramung Chrum, with the intention of training Tramung Chrum villagers how to repair motorcycles and manage the shop. Eventually, the ownership of this shop will be turned over to Tramung Chrum. Other Harpswell initiatives in Tramung Chrum include a drip irrigation agricultural project with improved farming methods. This project was started in June 2009.

In July 2006 the Foundation completed construction of a dormitory and leadership center for college women in Phnom Penh, one of the first student dormitories in Cambodia. This facility allows women from the provinces (90% of the population) to attend university by eliminating one of the major obstacles: not having a place to live in Phnom Penh. Colleges in Cambodia do not provide housing for their students. Male students can live in the Buddhist temples, but female students cannot. For this reason, many women from rural areas are prevented from receiving higher education. The dormitory and leadership center houses 36 women, who have been selected from a wide geographical distribution on the basis of their intelligence, ambition, and leadership potential. Our young women are now at the tops of their classes at their various universities and have received internships at some of the leading international and national NGOs and other organizations working in Cambodia.

In May 2008, the government of Cambodia awarded us the Gold Medal for humanitarian service to Cambodia. The medal was personally presented to Alan Lightman by Deputy Prime Minister Kong Sam Ol.

Future plans include building several more dormitories and leadership centers for university women in Phnom Penh and establishing programs to help our graduates move into leadership positions. We have begun construction of our second facility in Phnom Penh and creation of an endowment.

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