During the 1970-75 civil war, the Pol Pot regime (1975-79), and the twenty-year Khmer Rouge insurgency which followed, millions of landmines were sown across Cambodia. As a result, thousands of innocent Cambodians have been killed and disabled. Mine-clearing is occurring countrywide, but it is a slow business, and there are still fresh victims each year.

Over 15 years, LOM ORNG ORGANISATION has established vocational training centres across Cambodia to give thousands of impoverished, unemployed Cambodian landmine victims training as barbers and hairdressers, motorcycle and bicycle mechanics, tailors, and electrical appliance repairers. Others have been taught self-sufficiency through growing vegetables for their families, with a surplus for sale. 

Our courses come complete with psychological counselling, and education in literacy, HIV-prevention, and general sanitation and health. LOM ORNG ORGANISATION also arranges for the provision of new prosthetic devices where needed, to aid mobility and productivity.

Moneylenders in Cambodia charge high interest rates, and most of our graduates do not qualify for bank loans as they lack collateral. Thus our micro-credit program (established with the assistance of Germany's Terre des Hommes, the Canadian International Development Agency, and other donors) provides capital to graduates to start their own businesses. The program currently assists hundreds of individuals across the country with low-interest business loans. 83 groups (containing over 500 graduates) receive group loans along the lines of the Grameen Bank system in Bangladesh.

The results
Once marginalised, ninety-four percent of our 8000+ graduates are now economically self-sufficient, and have re-entered mainstream society. Typically there is a lifting of the depression that accompanied their long period of unemployment, under-employment or unsuitable employment, and a return of self-esteem. They no longer have to travel large distances to find physically demanding labouring work. On the back of their newfound energy and incomes, many go on to establish second and third businesses, such as raising chickens or pigs, or selling noodles at the local market. 

Many LOM ORNG ORGANISATION entrepreneurs start families and build a family home. Children are sent to school, and bought bicycles. Skills are re-taught to grown children and other family members. New equipment is purchased. With the creation of each new locus of economic activity, and the spending that follows it, more money circulates in local communities.

The effects of the training centres on Cambodia's local towns has been marked. For example in Kratie, once-ubiquitous amputee beggars are no longer seen on the streets. Instead, disabled entrepreneurs have set up shop on street corners across the province.

LOM ORNG ORGANISATION has vocational training centres (VTCs) in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Kratie provinces. Our Pursat and Kampong Thom centres have closed, as we have trained virtually all the war-disabled people in those provinces.

Financial & environmental sustainability
LOM ORNG ORGANISATION's long-term aim is financial sustainability - an unusual goal among NGOs. We also aim to make our projects as environmentally responsible as possible - for example teaching waste remediation strategies in the training courses. 

Our starch factory in Battambang exemplifies both philosophies. The factory opened in 2007, funded by both private investors and the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation. Today it provides 3,000 previously poor locals with secure incomes as environmentally responsible cassava-growers. (Because of its food security and environmental advantages, the FAO is investing heavily in cassava research and promotion worldwide.)

The factory's profits run the Battambang vocational training centre (VTC) and our Phnom Penh HQ, meaning that we no longer have to ask donors to support those projects.

The starch factory's waste water is purified through a series of filtration plants, tested thoroughly, and released back into the local stream. All factory by-products are packaged and sold.
As time goes on, LOM ORNG ORGANISATION will create more financially self-sustaining projects, and gradually reduce our dependence on donors.

As time goes on, LOM ORNG ORGANISATION will create more financially self-sustaining projects, and gradually reduce our dependence on donors.

Smaller projects
In addition to the above-mentioned vocational training centres, LOM ORNG ORGANISATION has established a number of smaller projects around Cambodia: 

  • Angkor Arts by Disabled Project (Till 2007: retail outlet in Siem Reap to market sculptures by war-disabled people)
  • Primary & high school construction projects (in Prey Veng province in 2007: 450 kids per annum are now being educated in the schools)
  • Corrective surgery project (in Kampong Thom province & the remote Preah Vihear province - to correct unhealed war wounds, cleft lips & cleft palates)
  • Buffalo Breeding (in Kratie - to provide buffalo to very poor landmine victims & their families, to enable them to increase rice production)
  • Ethnic minorities project (basket-weaving training in Kratie, to enable ethnic minorities to better use their bamboo natural resource & make a good profit from it; also to keep them from logging in the landmine-infested forests)
  • Cows for Cambodia Project (in Pursat: distributed cows to 160 landmine victims' families, to increase rice production)


New developments at LOM ORNG ORGANISATION
The exacting application and reporting processes our donors demand require high standards of monitoring, probity, transparency and report-writing. Thus we have recently strengthened our Phnom Penh HQ by hiring a Communications Director, an IT and database expert, and other support staff. We are currently upgrading our computer network and website; as well as providing a higher level of staff training in the English and Thai languages, business communications, and the accountancy skills needed to ensure continued financial discipline. 

Having thereby 'strengthened the base', in the near future we will be seeking funding for several new projects, including:

  • A $500,000 to $1 million re-purposing of our Banteay Meanchey VTC - which by October 2010 will have trained all the available locals - to take in trainees from neighbouring Siem Reap province.
  • Conversion of our Kratie VTC - which has also now trained almost all the province's landmine victims - into a co-operative for packaging yams and/or cashews. These will be grown locally, boosting local incomes; the co-op proceeds will provide jobs to graduates' family members as well as our loyal local staff.
  • In accord with our gradual move toward financial self-sustainability, doubling the capacity of our Battambang starch factory, to increase funds for our training projects. This capacity-doubling was built into the factory's 2006 design.
  • A second cassava factory, in another province (very likely Pailin), to replicate the success of the one in Battambang. It will provide secure incomes to thousands of poor families, and a cashflow to fund a local vocational training centre. This project has the advantage of being modelled on a real-world success, rather than merely papyer plans.
Finally, two new projects are already underway:
  • Establishing a 'Friends of LOM ORNG ORGANISATION' network, for individuals and corporations to fund (or donate goods in kind to) 'niche' projects, such as the support of trainees' families whilst the breadwinner is training, or cleaning up a stream in a community near a project. These funds will be disbursed on a more ad hoc basis, and usually over shorter timeframes. 'Friends of LOM ORNG ORGANISATION' is being created without major donor funding, and will be managed by existing staff, with zero overheads.
  • In accord with our goal to replicate successful projects in new environments, at the invitation of the Lao government, in late 2009 LOM ORNG ORGANISATION will open the first large-scale vocational training centre for UXO and landmine survivors in the Savannakhet, Laos.


Donor relations
LOM ORNG ORGANISATION was established in 1994 by Dr David Aston, a Canadian humanitarian, but is now largely run by Cambodians. It has no political or religious ties, is a registered NGO in both Cambodia and Canada, and runs under a mandate agreement with the Cambodian Government. 

LOM ORNG ORGANISATION projects are funded, variously, by the EU, the Canadian, Australian and Spanish governments, and philanthropic bodies such as the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation. To see the full list of our donors, please click 



In addition, we work with partners such as the ICRC, the ILO and the Cambodian Government's Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

We begin each new project with a 'needs assessment' survey in the relevant region, which is usually funded by an international donor.

Thereafter a 'concept note' will outline the project in brief for prospective project donors.

Finally, a detailed application for funding is drafted. There is often a period of several months thereafter, involving detailed responses to donors' questions, and the providing of further information.

Before the project begins, we draft our internal documents (which may also be inspected by donors if desired), such as the business plan and timeline.

We encourage the active involvement of our international donors - seeing this as a win-win dynamic. Their representatives regularly visit Cambodia to inspect projects in the field, ask questions and give input - which is usually acted on.