Hearts and Hands for Cambodia is an organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Cambodian children through early childhood education. Our main social service project is to assist the Sobbhana Foundation by supporting their Day Care Center in Battambang. The Center selects 75 children, ages three to six, from the poorest in eight surrounding villages and provides meals and education, including personal hygiene and life skills. The center is similar to the Head Start Program in the US, and provides structured activities and consistent, loving support.
In the past, we provided playground equipment, educational materials and instruction, electricity, video equipment, clothing, towels, fans, and we dug a ditch for to prevent flooding during the rainy season. Our hope is to expand our program to offer an after school program for the children in primary school and an adult literacy program, as we have found that most of our mothers cannot read or write.
Cambodia is a country with a violent past. During the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975-1979, most of the country’s educated population was killed. The people are still recovering and many today still lack life’s basic necessities.
The Sobbhana Foundation was started in the 1980s by Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh of Cambodia “with the intent of inspiring women to preserve cherished artistic traditions while at the same time establishing a sense of identity and independence .” The Sobbhana Day Care Center was founded as part of this goal, and the land was donated by Princess Marie.
Hearts and Hands for Cambodia began in Singapore with a group of international women, some of whom had adopted children from Cambodia. Christine Wagner and Ivey Peterson organized a medical mission to render assistance to those in need of surgery. A dedicated group of Singaporean surgeons headed by Dr. Fong Poh Him agreed to help and the first mission took place in August 2001. During the early medical missions, Chris met the director of the Sobbhana Day Care Center and began fundraising for the organization.
Since 2005, our medical team has been working independently. They have established a working relationship with several Khmer surgeons at Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh and Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. Their support has been invaluable. They have also mentored several Khmer surgeons and brought them to Singapore for further study.
Meanwhile, Hearts and Hands for Cambodia had become the primary source of funding for the Sobbhana Daycare Center. Although its primary mission has changed over the years, the organization is still dedicated to helping the Cambodian people.
Barbara graduated with a Masters of Education in School Counseling from University at Buffalo SUNY in 2004 and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Sam Houston State University in 1982. She earned her teaching certificate in English and Psychology in 1983, and has taught students of all ages, from preschool to adult education, since 1984. Barbara has been involved with the Sobbhana Foundation since her first trip to Cambodia in 2001, and has been the Director of Hearts and Hands since 2015.
Christine Wagner established Hearts and Hands as a non-profit 501c organization in 2003. She serves as the organizations Director. She is an RN and has participated in medical missions in Indonesia run by the Buddhist relief organization Tzu Chi. She has coordinated multiple Singaporean medical mission teams to Cambodia, as well as sponsored Healing the Children NE’s dental team there. She presently works as a Lactation Consultant. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and holds a M.Ed. from University of Georgia. She received her RN from the University of Guam.
Sotia is married to Pisey and they have two children. He has 15 years’ experience working with health related NGOs in senior management. He is now working in the World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battamabang. This is the largest trauma care hospital in Cambodia. They provide high quality free care for landmine victim. Sotia is the Social Affairs Director and Project Manager for the Handa Foundation which now manages and supports the hospital. He has a BA in Business Management.
Anna Rinehart graduated magna cum lade and with a distinction in her field, Art Therapy, in May 2015 from Emmanuel College in Boston. She accompanied Hearts and Hands Board members to Sobbhana Day Care Center as a videographer and photographer during her Junior year at Singapore American High School. Anna currently serves as Webmaster for Hearts and Hands for Cambodia.