About Lom Orng
Lom Orng means ‘pollen’ in Khmer - suggesting the seeding of new ideas.
Today the NGO works in development across a broad range of activities - livelihood and Permaculture, vocational training, safe water, cassava, manufacturing and (in 2011) emergency flood relief.
We began in the early 1990s - in the wake of Cambodia’s civil war - focused on the then-foreground issue of land mine victims: most of whom were unemployed, begging on the streets and marginalised. The Cambodian War Amputees Rehabilitation Society - these days named Lom Orng - was formed in 1994 by the late Dr David Aston, a Canadian humanitarian.
Today, Lom Orng (now entirely managed by Cambodians) has put over 15,000 disabled people through vocational training. Having trained as barbers and hairdressers, motorcycle and bike mechanics, tailors and appliance repairers, most have their own businesses, self-respect, and an income to support their families. Typically, our graduates undergo a lifting of their depression and the return of self-esteem. They frequently marry and build a family home.
Since 1994, Lom Orng has built vocational training centres in Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces - and now a sixth in southern Laos. The results are often striking. In Kratie, for example, once-ubiquitous amputee beggars are now rarely seen on the streets: vocational training has transformed them into small entrepreneurs, and they have set up stalls and shops across the province.
After getting established in vocational training, Lom Orng began to broaden out - covering more provinces, and more fields.
Sam Ouern Pok
Director of Lom Orng
I was born in Kampot - my mother was a teacher. At the start of the Khmer Rouge [KR] period in 1975 I was three years old.
After the fall of Pol Pot, the KR insurgency lasted for many years. But after the Paris peace accords in 1992, I came back to Cambodia from a refugee camp in Thailand - on December 12, 1992. I was sent to Battambang by the UNHCR along with many other refugees. We asked to go there because we knew there was a lot of good land there. We could plant rice and other things. We found some land in February 1993 - it belonged to a relative - they allowed us to build a house and grow things.
Going from the jungle to the camps to this new life as a farmer was quite hard. My father worked on staff for UNTAC [the UN transitional authority], for the election committee. My mother farmed. I went to school.
I met David Aston [Lom Orng’s founder] in 1993 in Pursat. I was going to his office every day, because I knew he was looking for staff. But the office was very small - no funding. He had no salary - he lived off his own money. So I said, 'Okay I can work without pay for a start.' He said, 'Can you cook?' So I cooked for him. He paid me in food.
I knew English by then, so I also translated. Lots of delegates were coming from Canada by then - it was early 1994.
I could use a computer by then too, so David realised I was useful for more than cooking. I asked him, 'What can I do to help you?'
Location map of our main interventions
Here are some of the places where we have helped people struck by fate.
Not all of our interventions are on this map, of course: Lom Orng Organisation has been instrumental in the recovery of hundreds of people in almost as many villages and we have listed here our major interventions only.
(Sorry - the map is currently under reconstruction)
Lom Orng's Financial and Legal structures
Our medium-term goal is financial self-sustainability. We have made a start with our cassava starch factory in Battambang, which supports both our Battambang training centre, our Phnom Penh HQ, and various ad hoc projects such as researching our planned rural piped water scheme.
In the meantime, we rely on charitable and philanthropic bodies in the developed world for about three-quarters of our funding. These donors include the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong, USAID, AusAID, the EU, IEPALA-Spain and CIDA (Canada). [See Our donors and partners]
Funds are solicited by a submitting concept note then a full proposal and budget. Funds usually arrive in regular tranches through the life of a project - typically every six months. At regular intervals throughout the project (commonly quarterly or half-yearly) narrative and financial reports are written for the donor; an end-of-project report is sent at project’s end. Funds may not be spent on items not in the donor-approved budget; at project’s end, unspent funds are returned.