About the Cambodian Village Fund
We’re Bill and Nancy Bamberger. In 2006, on our 40th wedding anniversary, we started the Cambodian Village Fund to help the children in Prey Touch Commune near the city of Battambang.
We never dreamed how quickly the Fund would grow and how successful it would be with new schools, a scholarship program, water filters, eye care, community improvements and even a football stadium.
All this is possible because of our generous supporters and strong Cambodian connections. We listen to what the villagers need and carefully make the funds go a long way to meet those needs. We take pride that the Cambodian Village Fund's administrative expenses are less than 1% of the budget.
We are happy to be spending our retirement years helping the children make a better life for themselves and their families.
How It All Started
We were planning our 40th wedding anniversary party when Nancy went to a new hair stylist, Chanra. She and her family fled Cambodia in the 70’s. Chanra recently returned to visit the Cambodian village where many of her relatives still live. Most of the villagers have no transportation - no cars or motorbikes or even bicycles. On that visit, Chanra bought a bike for the villagers to share - to take them to school, to the clinic, to the temple, and to the market. That single bike cost only $40, but had a huge impact on the village. The number 40 started it all – 40 dollars for a bike / 40 years together. We are avid bike riders and decided that, as our anniversary present to each other, we would buy another bike for Chanra’s village. Before we knew it, our friends wanted to be involved and contributed over $2500. And that’s how it all started.
Bill and Nancy Bamberger founded the Cambodian Village Fund. They have traveled extensively, but keep returning to Southeast Asia since their first trip there in 2000. You can learn more about their travels at Travels with Bill and Nancy. Before he retired in 2000, Bill was in charge of developing the Geographic Information System for the City and County of San Diego. Nancy, who has a Masters in Communications from San Diego State University, worked as a TV producer, instructional designer and technical trainer. Nancy retired in 2002. Bill and Nancy, who are responsible for the administration of the fund, website, accounting, and publicity, receive no compensation from the Fund. They also lead annual trips to Cambodia.
Venerable Sovechea, a monk from Battambang, manages the on-the-ground operations for the Cambodian Village Fund. Working with local officials, Ven. Sovechea identifies priorities, negotiates and manages contracts, supervises programs, and is an inspiration to everyone he meets. One of Ven. Sovechea's important functions is being a "life coach" for the scholarship students. He does all this, and more, without compensation from the Fund.
In addition to his work with the Cambodian Village Fund, Venereable Sovechea's main job is President of Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University in Battambang. He also travels extensively and is part of the interfaith peace movement.
Rom Samnang manages the Tim Sykes Football (soccer) Stadium and our Youth Soccer Program. He meets with representatives of the primary schools in Prey Touch Commune to determine their needs and to organize football tournaments. Organized youth soccer is a new concept in Prey Touch Commune (and all of rural Cambodia), so part of Samnang's job is to explain the program to students, teachers and the community at large. He is also responsible for the concessions at the stadium, selling football uniforms, football gear, snacks and drinks. All proceeds of the sales help support the maintenance of the stadium.
Samnang's main job is teaching English at Prey Touch Secondary School. He is married and has one daughter.
Nem Vanna has been an important member of the Cambodian Village Fund team from the beginning. Vanna lives in Kaun Khlong Village and is the Secretary of the Primary School. He helps with the scholarship program, disbursing money to the students in the village and purchasing books and school uniforms at the beginning of each semester. He helps manage our school and road building projects. He also manages the tuk-tuk used to transport people to hospitals and clinics. When we take groups on tours of Cambodia, one of the highlights of each tour is a delicious lunch at Vanna's house, prepared by Vanna's talented wife, Kosal.
The Fund keeps detailed financial records. All administrative work is done by volunteers. Bill and Nancy receive no compensation and handle all the project management, website development and graphic design. The “on-the-ground” Cambodian team receives a small compensation for the long hours they spend on our various projects.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.