Sunday, April 22, 2012

ABC's & Rice

ABC’s & Rice

Tammy Durand is an extraordinary young woman who is making a difference in this world. She is originally from Sudbury, Ontario and majored in Psychology while in college. For many years, she worked in Canada and the United States for various companies who were in the Transport and Logistics business.

One of her dreams was to travel to Thailand which she achieved. However, she took a side trip to Cambodia on her first trip to that area and saw a flyer advertising an organization, which helps the underprivileged. She extended her stay to research the situation there and began to make plans for a return visit.

In 2010, she founded ABC’s & Rice. The vision of this organization is to facilitate the empowerment of the poor to break the cycle of poverty. She and her life partner, Matt Foote, an Australian, work in the small village of Poom Sala and Kroligne , which is 3 km from the town center of Siem Reap. Due to the extreme poverty of the people, many families are unable to pay to educate their children. In an attempt to get at least some of their children educated, one or more of the remaining children have to work.

She was warmly welcomed by the people and they have a high respect for the work of ABC’s & Rice as well as for herself and Matt.

The programme employs 6 Khmer teachers and 4 center support workers,. There are over 180 students and their families, who rely heavily on help from generous volunteers and donors.

The students range from 4 years of age to 16.The curriculum includes Khmer reading, writing, cultural and morals programme, English studies, art and sports. They also provide personal support and development to the children and their families, including medical and dental care for the children. Support for their work comes mainly from private donors and from fundraising done in Canada

Her motivation is the belief that every child deserves the access and right to education, healthy sustenance, and a safe environment.

For those who are not very familiar with Cambodia, the area where she and Matt work is a comparatively small tropical city, which only gets “cool” anywhere between December and February. The wet season is sticky, when it is not raining and there is always flooding. Last year the city was fully flooded for six weeks.

As a point of interest, one can find spitting cobras, vipers, scorpions and some spiders and in fact, both Tammy and Matt have had more than their share of bites by Brown Recluse spiders whose venom has the potential to kill.

Tammy works two part time jobs to support herself as well as the project and an average work day for her is 17-18 hours. She tries to take some time off on a Sunday, however, her laptop is always with her.

“The future of ABC’s & Rice?

“In a nutshell, I plan on developing it into a self-sustaining model that can be used virtually anywhere, run for and by native Cambodians.” says Tammy in a recent interview.

For more information on how you can help this worthy cause, please visit

Tammy and one of her students

Matt Foote

A snapshot of some of the students

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