Future Light Orphanage

Cambodia, Inspiration, RTW: 2007-2008, Southeast Asia — By on August 20, 2008 4:35 AM

Throughout my travels I have met some truly remarkable people who have impressed me by their resolve in hard times or their selfless desire to help others. Nicole and I met many admirable people while volunteering at the Future Life Orphanage (FLO). It is always a very rewarding experience to do something to help others in need and to work with those who have dedicated their lives to doing so.

FLOW was established to care for children whose parents were killed or disabled during the Khmer Rouge regime, the civil war of 1997, have died from HIV, whose parents have abandoned them or cannot support them. The orphanage was named, Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate, because the children who live there are learning the skills necessary to lift themselves out of poverty towards a brighter future. The orphanage currently supports over 300 Cambodian children.

Click below to see a cool video and to learn more about FLOW…

FLOW was founded by Nuon Phaly, an incredibly remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to helping orphans. She was one of the millions of Cambodians that were ousted from their homes during the Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge Era. She and her family fled to a refugee camp on the Thai border where she lost her husband and all of her children to starvation. She spent nine years at the camp where she saw many women suffering from war induced depression. She co-founded the Khmer People Depression Relief, providing assistance to victims still suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Supported by a grant from UNHCR, Ms. Phaly returned to Cambodia in 1993 with 91 orphans in her care. She started her orphanage on her grandmother’s land, located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and registered FLOW as a non-governmental organization (NGO).



Ms. Phaly was awarded the Figaro Prize from France in 1994 as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize) from the Philippines in 1998 for her efforts in helping orphans in Cambodia.

The mission of Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate is to care for its children, providing them with a warm environment, supplying food, clothes, school supplies, education and extracurricular activities until they are 18. They attend English and computer classes and have the option of taking Khmer traditional arts, such as classical Cambodian ballet and classical instruments, and training in sewing or tailoring and silk weaving. After “graduating” from FLOW, the children go are given a choice to decide on what to do in their lives.

FLOW is sustained completely by donations from abroad. Up until two years ago, the orphanage could only afford to feed the kids two meals a day. Through the support of several organizations, the standards of the orphanage have improved greatly. Today, this orphanage is perhaps the best run orphanage in the country and the kids are well taken care of.

A big supporter of FLOW is the Honolulu Rotary Club, which has helped to build new classrooms and a library. Japan donated 30 Macintosh computers and helped to build the computer room and new dormitories.

By luck of the timing of our visit to FLOW, Nicole and I had the pleasure of meeting Rob Hail, an American who is spending his retirement years supporting the orphanage. Rob is the founder of Email Foster Parents International, a non-profit volunteer organization, supported by the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise, dedicated to helping those children throughout the world who are most in need. Rob founded the organization in 2000 and the program is supporting and emailing over one hundred children at FLOW.

After seeing first hand how this organization supports the children at FLOW, I decided to become an “Email Foster Parent”. I was able to choose from a few kids that were in need of a foster parent. I decided to pick the sweet little girl that I had taught during class and also taken to the waterpark.

My foster child’s is Srey Leak, a 12-year old girl who arrived at FLOW with her brother a year ago. I will pay $30/month that will go toward her care and education and will maintain a relationship with her over email sending photos, encouragement, and love. I was able to spend a lot of time with Leak while at FLOW and I look forward to getting to know her much better. She seems to be a shy I think partly due to the fact that her English is not as good as some of the other kids. Like many of the other kids, she is really eager to learn. I hope to be able to visit her in Cambodia again in a few years.

Nicole and I felt good knowing that the children receive so much love and support FLOW. I was so impressed with each of them, as they are some of the sweetest, most polite, affectionate, and motivated children I have ever met. They are all so motivated in their studies, specifically to improve their English. When we walked through the grounds, we would quickly be crowded by 30 children wishing to talk to us and hug us. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but so endearing at the same time. We were asked so many questions…my favorite of which was a question posed to Nicole “What do you want for your future?” Other common questions were: “Do you have a boyfriend?”; “Where do you come from?”; “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”;”How old are you?” (followed by shocked expressions when we said 30!); “What is your favorite color?”. We would always be warmly greeted by each and every child who wished us a good day, or sweet dreams. And the kids LOVE to pose for photos and were always wanting their photos taken with me and Nicole.


In the mornings we spent three hours in the library spending time with some of the smaller children. We were entertained by 6 year old Elizabeth who performed her “Banana Dance” for us that she was taught by a volunteer from Singapore. TOO CUTE!

We supervised the kids as they swam in the pool that was was built by the support of Rob and the Rotary Club. Thirty kids in a pool at once = CHAOS!!!

Nicole and I taught English classes in the afternoons. We were asked to teach the parts of the body so we played “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” and taught the class how to “do the hokey pokey”. They clearly thought we were both crazy at first and laughed at us as Nicole and I danced around the room. They eventually all caught on and joined in and had alot of fun!


English classroom…

My attempt to draw a body…

Rob suggested that we take some of the kids to the local water park one day. The hard part was that we had to pick seven children out of the hundreds that would LOVE to go to the water park with us. We ended up picking the children from our class that had never been to the water park before. My foster child, Leak, was part of the group so we got to spend alot of time together that day.

Nicole and I had a blast sliding down the slides and swimming with the kids! They never tired as they went up and down the slide for hours! They all kept telling us that they “were so happy” and they thanked us a dozen times for taking them to the park. I forgot how exhausting it is to play with kids!

Fun times at Phnom Penh waterpark…

Leak is scared to swim…
Fun in the pool…

Trying to teach Leak to swim…unsuccessful but she tried!

Marody and his great smile…

Nicole and stayed for five nights at a guest house inside the orphanage and we were treated so well by all the staff and children. We were even invited into Ms. Pauly’s home for a traditional Khmer dinner with her and her husband and Rob our last night at the orphanage. We also received a special farewell performance by the dancers our last night. They performed three Khmer dances in full costume, it was amazing.

Since most of the Cambodian teachers and artists were slaughtered during the Khmer Rouge era, Cambodia’s rich culture was nearly lost. Khmer dance is Cambodia’s premier art form, it evolved over centuries and tell the stories of the countries glorious past as well as everyday Khmer village life. The children of FLOW practice hard each day practicing and training in Khmer dance in order to revive the nearly lost art form.

Click on the video below to see Khmer dance…

Thanks to the support of FLOW’s generous sponsors, the children’s dream of coming to the United States to share their beautiful classical dance has now become a reality. Rob has been a key organizer in The 2008 Cambodian Children’s Cultural Tour in Hawaii by a group of 30 FLOW dancers and musicians. The group will be going back to Hawaii with Rob and will spend two weeks on the islands. There will be lots of activities for the children, including cultural exchange with Hawaii students, dance classes, meetings with dignitaries, and more. They will be performing at many venues but the main performance, Classical Dances of Angkor Wat, will be at Mamiya Theatre on Saturday September 13 at 7:00pm. The money made from ticket sales will go directly to the orphanage. The kids are so excited for this trip as many of them have never left Cambodia.

Click here to read an article published in a Hawaii paper about the organization.

There is still much work to be done in Cambodia and at FLOW. Many children are still waiting for email foster parents, volunteers are needed to help teach English and computer classes, funds are always need to feed, cloth, and educate this many children. I encourage anyone who can to get involved or pay a visit to the orphanage if you are in Cambodia.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with the children at FLOW and left feeling good to have helped even a little and happy to be reminded that there are really nice people in the world looking after those who cannot help themselves.

If you would like to support this organization, please visit the website:

To see all of my photos from FLOW CLICK HERE.

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  1. Keani says:

    Wow what a wonderful job you have done explaining and documenting FLOW and our work as email foster parents.
    Thank you so much for doing this. I'm sure it will help the kids.

  2. ratanak kong says:

    I appreciated very much for your wonderful job for FLO kids. Please kindly accept my sincere thanks. Ratanak

  3. sopehak ros says:

    could you tell me the address and location of flow …

    Waiting to hearing from you soon,

    thanks & best regards,

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