[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/14/art.rosenfeld.ypwr.jpg caption=”Rachel Rosenfeld, 17, founded the R.S. Rosenfeld school in Srah Khvav village in Siem Reap province, Cambodia.”]During Rachel Rosenfeld’s junior year in high school, the unexpected happened. She developed a stomach condition that kept her out of school the whole year. While recovering, her sense of purpose changed after reading a New York Times article on the plight of young Cambodians.
The article followed a 17-year-old girl who most likely would have been forced into prostitution if she didn’t go to school. The problem was that there were no schools in the girl’s village. Rachel, now 17 herself, remembers how the story inspired her to write letters asking for donations so the girl could go to school.
After hundreds of letters were forwarded organically across the country, Rachel received $52,000 in donations. In December 2007, she attended the opening of the R.S. Rosenfeld School in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province. Now, 300 students there can get an education thanks to funding from an unexpected place.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Thank you for taking the initiative to change the world. I am very curious how you were able to start a school in a country so far away. Did you receive support from the US government?
What grade levels does the school support?
Do students have to pay tuition or fees to attend?
How may I make a contribution?
How do you plan to sustain funding for the school?
Hi Rachel!! How did you go about soliciting donations? I want to raise moneyf or the starving people on Haiti who have to eat mud to survive and I’m not sure where to start.
Congratulations for your initiative.
How did you get the funds?
I read on CNN about the babies born in India and immediately killed if they are females. I would like to develop a program to save those baby girls.
I don’t know how to start, would you have any suggestions?
Hi! This article showed me that there will be some angels on the earth. I believe that you are the one of them Rachel. I’m from Poland so if I make a mistake in my comment please forgive me. I’m not so good in English 🙂 Good luck of your life way.
Hi rachel, Congratulations! you really impress the world what you’re doing now. I ‘ve been siem reap 5 months ago, so I really know how much happy the children now..what u did is touching everyone’s heart.
Can u tell me the scholl address? I might be visit the school someday.
Dear Rachel, Thank you for changing the world. Few people like you make a lot of difference to the entire world. May God Bless you and your family and may you succeed in every step you take.
Youre such an awesome person.Thanks for making a difference in the world.Many people love to talk about the difference they will make(including myself at times)but never quite get to what they would want to do.Because of people like you the world is still fabulous regardless of its faults!
Thank you! You have done a great thing for those children in Cambodia. The world is a better place, all because of your caring heart. I am currently studying to be a teacher and this is something that pushes me even more.
Hi!, Rachel…Congratulation…It feels me so please inside my heart when I see there are still people like you in this world who cares about others and who are ready to give there time. Sometimes I think if everyone does what you did we will be living in different world….world of love, security, comfort, and prosperity…please let me know what I can do… I really want to donate some money but do not know how…email is the best way to reach me.
Thank god for Rachel. Where would those Cambodians be without 17 year old American high school girls saving them? I
As a Cambodian-American, I am overjoyed and proud of what Rachel has done for Cambodian children. What I would like to ask is how she thinks more schools can be established for all Cambodian children? I have read about many organizations establishing schools in the countryside of Cambodia, but how can this be better organized or whatnot to help all the children?
Rachel, You are an inspiration! I’ve had this dream tugging at my heart to do something for the children affected by AIDS, and I was wondering if you had any advice on how to start. I have so much love to give to these poor children who’ve seemed to have lost so much in such a short lifetime, but my dream seems so overpowering. I’d appreciate any advice you’d have to offer. Thank you again for being a difference maker!! May God continue to bless you and the one’s you’ve touched by your passionate heart.
I lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for 2.5 yrs (2004-2007) and worked for an international school there (ISPP). What you are doing and have done for the Cambodian children in Siem Reap is wonderful. Hopefully your story and committment will inspire others to help these wonderful children and this beautiful country.
Hi Angel Rachel,
You are a real Angel and please tell us where we can send the
donation to help you to help these chlidren.
Great story, very inspiring. Interested to know how you got started, how you went about soliciting donations, and how you got the school build half a world away. If you have a successful blueprint, others will follow your lead. I have many the same questions as were submitted and would love to know more.
What a wonderful young woman whose hard work made a dream a reality. It is so uplifting to hear good things about our American teenagers. It seems the media loves to focus on all the negative things teens do………..I’m sure there are far more inspiring teens like Rachel that we never hear about! Your life is an inspiration to others already……….how wonderful is that?!?
What a wonderful thing you have done. Not only in helping those children in that particular village, but also in inspiring so many other people to reach out and make a difference.
I was in Siem Reap last fall and fell in love with the people there. They truly are wonderful, and I cannot wait to go back. I made some small donations while there (books, school supplies, and a well), but nothing that would compare to a whole school! I would so much love to do more for these people. Please, any direction that you can point me would be truly appreciated.
Peace 🙂 Barbara
Hi Rachel Rosenfeld,
You are a great young lady, who has helped hundreds of young children in this third world to go to school. I think this school will provide education to thousands of young Cambodian students year after year.
However, I want to know how you can you make this school survive in the long term (5 years or 10 years or even longer)?
Again, you are really a great young lady and a very helpful and respectful for those poor kids.
National Cheng Kung University
I am Sambath Phou, a lCambodian ecturer at Asia Euro University, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I am very surprived and touched to read this article about a very young girl, 17, who had done a very great job in helping our poor children.
As a Cambodian citizen and on behalf of other 14 million Cambodian people, I would like to say thanks so very much for your help and donation to help build a school in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
May our Khmer New Year Gods (April 13-15 Khmer New Year) bring you all the best and be always with you.
Although rachel’s heart is in the right place, maybe her efforts could be better used to help at home.
You are an amazing girl.
Mag – those kids are killed not because they are girls, but because rural India is too impoverished to sustain another life, boy or girl. Perhaps your efforts would be better directed working towards development instead. There are several agencies you can find online that help out with sustainable development, water and sanitation development, and agriculture – I’m sure they’d appreciate some volunteers or in-kind donations.
Kevin – why don’t you do something to help out at home?
Rachel – you’re a fantastic person! as others have said, everyone intends to help out, but somehow never gets around to doing so. I hope your success story inspires others and brings more awareness to the tragedies abroad.
Earth is our home, and all the people live in that home. I’m so glad Rachel does not limit herself to one specific area that she just so happened to be randomly born in.
Rachel deserves a huge congratulations for her efforts, but I’m guessing meeting the kids in Cambodia and seeing the impact the school is having on their lives has offered her plenty of rewards.
A couple of questions: how were the children chosen for the school? How long will these funds allow the children to receive schooling? Are there any provisions when the funds run out?
Way to go, Rachel!
That’s so awsome! My husband is Khmer so it’s wonderful to see people like Rachel helping out and bringing awareness to others! You are a star, Rachel, and I hope you motivate other young men and women to do more positive things in this world!
Congratulations on such an amazing feat. I, too, share a passion for assisting Cambodia in the education of its young people. I, too, have had questions such as the one raised by Kevin. My response is that by assisting others around the world, we are assisting all around the world. That is why I take a group of my own university students to Cambodia during the summer. The students going to Cambodia with me this summer will not only create change in the lives of impoverished Cambodian children, those Cambodian children will create change in my students’ lives. Helping others is the ultimate win-win situation. Rachel, you are truly a winner. If I can assist in any way, please let me know.
Where can I find more information on Rachel’s Cambodian school project? I would like to offer my help if there is an avenue to accommodate it.
I have the upmost respect and admiration for Rachel for initiating this project and following thru to make it happen. This school benefits so many very needy children that deserve such an opportunity. I would love to see this project expanded throughout Cambodia.
This is an amazing program you have started! My family is from Cambodia. I would like to know where this school is located and how you were able to do this. I’m fairly confident I could raise money, but what is the next step?
Thank you!!! Absolutely amazing!
Oh, and Kevin….
When the Cambodian government has $200 billion/year to spend on ‘defense’ for their country and chooses to spend only $59 billion/year on their education system then we’ll talk. As of right now, our home just needs to get their priorities straight. Last time I checked our 17 yr old girls weren’t forced into prostitution because they didn’t have any schools to attend.
But, I’m sure you could raise $52,000, too….and then get back to us on how that worked out for our home. Sound good?
You’re an inspiration to us all!
I would like to congratulate you on you Cambodian school Project.
I am working on a philanthropy project and I was wondering how you got the money to make this project possible. I would love it if you gave some tips as to how to fundraise for my project.
I really am proud of how you successfully did this project. I am a high schooler too and I sometimes find it hard to get funds and to have adults take my project seriously.
Thank You for your kind generosity. To make a difference in one life is to better the world, and you did it one person at a time. And now 300 lives are better because of your efforts to build a school there. You’re somebody’s hero… 😀
THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO. I AM A NATIVE OF CAMBODIA AND I WOULD LOVE SOME INFO ON HOW TO HELP AND AGAIN THANK-YOU.
It makes me very happy to know that there are people like Rachel out there helping others. A “goodwill” ambassador like her helps on many levels, and I am impressed that a person so young has made such a great contribution.
As a Khmer raised in American, I truly appreciate the wonderful opportunities available to me and sympathize with the struggles that my countrymen experience everyday.
I would like to sincerely thank you for your enthusiasm, generosity, and kindness. It is rare to read positive things about Cambodia and I know that your significant impact on the lives of these 300 children.
Keep up the good work and please contact me if you need any help.
Thank you Rachel for caring and actually doing something.
I volunteered as a tearcher in Cambodia from 2005 – 2006 in a Siem Reap school. It was the most gratifying adventrure of my life and I am making a documentary about the experience and the schools there.
Cambodia needs help like yours Rachel. How can I get more information on the school. I too would like to see it expanded across all of Cambodia.
Thank you so much for helping Cambodian to go to school. As a Cambodian, I do really appreciate it so much!!! The story you’ve come across is so common in Cambodia. Although it’s hard to get all students to go to school so that they can stay out of trouble, together we can make this happen!!! Keeping on good work!!!
Super Awsome Job Rachel!
Thank you … Thank you and Thank you a million times.
It is such a joy and excitement to live and see your wonderful
heart reaching out to these children.
May God Bless You,your family and your friends forever.
This is a great series. These young people are truly inspiring. God Bless Rachel. I am sure Rachel has already found a purpose for her life. God Bless her.
Rachel, First of all let me tell you that what you are doing is probably the most awesome individual unselfish act by a 17 year old that I’ve read about for a very long time.This is the ONLY way that there will ever be a chance for peace to start blossoming anywhere on the planet. With everyone telling everyone else that their god is the correct god and they are willing to die for their god that was handed down from more tahn likely their parents. I’m sorry to get off the subject at hand which is the magnificent job you are doing. Please keep up the good work and maybe one of those poor kids who had no chance at life wil be given one courtesy of you and maybe even change the world just a bit so the next generation will realize its nicer to be nice than not. Once again Rachel thanks for your wicked awsome attitude
I am very proud of what you are doing for the Cambodian children. Would you like to share your story with the Cambodian people in Cambodia?
I work for the Voice of America, Cambodian service and would like to interview you either by phone or in person for VOA. We have some 27 percent of listeners in Cambodia.
I don’t know how to contact you so please contact me if you would like to share your story with the Cambodian people. Here’s my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Denise, if you are reading this email, please contact me also. I would like to interview you about your plan to bring university students to Cambodia this summer as well.
I have just returned from Siem Reap and it is fantastic to read of success stories like this school. The Cambodian people are fantastic individual with a true heart to succeed in life.
A great story of great compassion.
I am curious as to your long-term financial plans in sponsoring that school? Where will you get the money to support them for the next 5 and 10 years?
Love comes without thinking. Instincts cannot be taught but is always reflected on. What you have done is amazing. There’s nothing else that hasn’t been said about this project of yours but I would like to let you know that people who help others should know that they are helping everyone. Education is the key to unlock a person who is self imprisoned by birth. I too work with a lot of young people here in the U.S. Although the environment is different, the impact is genuine and strong. Great job! Much love! You are building a stronger Cambodia but more importantly a stronger world.
Rachel – how awesome for a l7 year old young lady to take such an initiative! Thank you so much for opening your heart and making time to help the children of Cambodia. As a Cambodian myself, words cannot express how grateful I am to you and to those who contributed toward this cause. Keep up the good work! If you visit Siemreap again, there is also the Angkor Hospital for Children who are in dire need of help. If interested, there are also some small schools in Kep-sur-mer (former most popular beach in Cambodia) that also need help ($1 per day goes a long way).
May you be blessed. To the world you might be one person but to one person you might be the world 🙂
Way to go Rachel. You really did a great thing for many children. May your school live on and on.
As a Cambodian kid who were born in Cambodia, I know that a lot of kids who lived in the country always dreamed of going to school and get the education. It is a really inspirational thing for Rachel to help these kids to fulfill their dream. It is very honored of you to help them. Thank you so much for helping those poor kids who have big dreams in their mind.
I think what Rachel did is fabulous. I would encourage people who want to follow in her footsteps to also consider “building” teachers in addition to schools. Unfortunately, the genocide in Cambodia targeted the educated elite. So today many teachers there are not educated. There are a shortage of people with an advanced education so many schools there end up teaching basic English and some computers skills. Cambodia and other developing countries need lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, etc if they are going to recover from past traumas.
I am not sure that girls are forced into prostitution because of a lack of education. Families that can afford to allow their children to go to school in the first place are less likely to be vulnerable to prostitution. Education of women is so important but many schools in Cambodia are attended by wealthier families to begin with. Even with access to schools many families would rather have an income from their children than get them educated. (If fighting prostitution in Cambodia is the goal then supporting APLE Cambodia or AFESIP or even smaller NGO’s there like Transitions and Daughters Cambodia would be the best bang for your buck.)
I hope Rachel and her supporters fund scholarships for advanced education so the children who are benefitting from her generosity can get even more education. The Royal University of Phnom Penh and The University of Washington School of Social Work are starting a joint scholarship program that I encourage people to support.
For people who can not afford to raise as much as Rachel has but still want to make a huge impact in Cambodia, I would like to suggest some really well run charities that can use support . These include M’Lop Tapang, Friends International/Mith Samlanh, Stop Exploitation Now, Tabitha, The Children’s Surgical Centre( Funded by Rose Charities USA in Alaska), The Cambodian Children’s Fund, APLE Cambodia, and AFESIP. (All of the listed organizations have American partners that US donors can contribute through.)
One study in Cambodia reports that approximately 80% of the children on the streets begging for money instead of going to school are there because they are trying to raise money to help their mothers and siblings access basic medical care. Organizations like the Angkor Hospital For Children and The Children’s Surgical Centre are providing medical care that is needed for free so people can get the treatment they need. Providing access to this care protects children and families in the long run and allows children to go to school.
I think we as Westerners want to think that building schools is the answer. We believe through media and good intentions that if we build it they will come. I think in some cultures that is the case but I do not see that as much in Cambodia. I have attempted to send many poor children to school there and fought with parents who think their children do not need to be educated. Poor families who value education can usually find a way to get their children educated. Families who do not value education do not.
I applaud efforts to build schools in Cambodia but lack of access to schools I think is a small issue there. I think educated teachers, healthcare, a well developed legal system, and support for small business start ups so people can support their families are more pressing needs right now.
So Rachel keep up the good work and I hope your work is a stepping stone to many great things for you. For those of you with extra change in your pockets who are inspired by Rachel please check out the groups I mention.
For the person who wants to help girls in India I would suggest people check out Vital Voices. They should have good connections to projects in India.
I highly recommend anyone inspired by Rachel read Three Cups of Tea. The author is building schools in areas where we are fighting. I think wars are better faught with compassion than bombs. The areas he is building schools right now are so important.
I have visited a simple school built by M’Lop Tapang (Under The Tree) for $6,000 in a slum area of Cambodia. It was a shelter school and while the building itself was primitive the school was amazing. It was designed to serve young girls who have to care for younger siblings and can not go to larger schools in the city. So they can go to school with their younger siblings and many do just that. M’Lop Tapang is meeting the children where they are. I suggest people check them out.
They also just opened a fabulous new center to help street children in Cambodia. As for education in Cambodia of vulnerable populations, I think M’Lop Tapang and Mith Samlanh are two organizations I have seen that are amazing and do a lot with a little. (There are other great ones too but these two really impress me because of the sheer numbers of children they are helping on so many different levels.)
Stop Exploitation Now has some links to that project and some other great ones in Cambodia. I suggest people check out the SEN website. Stop Exploitation Now is funding education through M’Lop Tapang for young women in Cambodia right now. (www.stopexploitationnow.org)
I have a question about the young girls stomach conditioin. My 15 yr old daughter has just been taken out of school due to stomach illness but the drs cant find what the problem is? Is there any way I could get a answer back to see if her illness might be waht my daughter has. I think it is of course just awasome what she has done. Starting these schools. thank you hope to hear from someoine my name is karen felling
I am proud of what you are doing. You realy make a diffrent.
Contact me with an adress to your foundation in english so I can make money for your project and a link / banner on all my marketing webpages, please. I am good to make that kind of voulonteer work
to support you and I will like it a lot.
You are an inspiration for us and our project. We’re a bunch of Cambodian students in the US who are working on forming an association whose main mission is to help rebuild Cambodia through improved education system. We have not taken for granted the rare education opportunities that we have had and which is not available to the majority of fellow Cambodian youth. We hope to make some change, the little it may be. But your example proves how empowering that change can be. I hope we can work together in the future, as one of our commenter pointed out.
good job if i say so my self. cant say much more but there who two comments above made to each other about how “her effects doesnt need to be at home” blah blah, she is doing a wounderfull job there with edaction, are edaction system isnt top notch, but they didnt have one, but att he same time we need to remember here so we dont forget…. rachel good job on the school
In this world of greed and coruption, it is good to know of such a remarkable young woman. May God be with you.
Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I hope I was able to address some of your questions in my short interview but if not, or if you would like to contribute to my school please feel free to email me at email@example.com
I am about to start AP week and then finals so please try to bear with me if it takes me a couple days to respond!
Thanks so much!!
im proud of what your doing for the kids im 17 too so im thinking about joining you
Hi Rachel. Congratulations. You not only have a wonderful heart but you took action to help other. Home is ever where and you have done a fantastic job of giving others a brighter future. Wish you all the best in your future.
Kevin, what is your problem? A young lady takes the time to help underprivileged children and you slam her? What about our government that spends billions helping countries that not only don’t appreciate it; but disrespect the USA every chance they get. Look around you and see how many Americans are losing their homes and what is our government doing about it? She’s giving young children a chance. WISE UP!!
For Aaron, CEO of MIMB
What steps are you taking to make the music industry better and what obstacles have you faced and how will you overcome them? What differentiates MIMB from others in the industry who are cut throat to get to the top?
Rachel Rosenfeld, you are an inspration to anyone who has the ability to make change. Your story will grow and so will the standard of living for each child you have helped through your efforts.