By TAKAHIRO FUKADA
Friday, Dec. 24, 2010
Building lives: Kids stand in front of Damrei Krom Primary School, built by AMATAK in Banteaymeanchey Province, Cambodia, in this Aug. 26 photo. COURTESY OF AMATAK HOUSE OF CAMBODIA
Fumio Goto and Meas Bun Ra, a Cambodian refugee Goto looked after in Japan, are dedicated to building schools in Cambodia.
Since Goto founded Tokyo-based nonprofit AMATAK House of Cambodia in 2005, the NPO has taken over the task that the two initiated in the Southeast Asian nation.
AMATAK has so far built 15 elementary schools in Cambodia. The 16th, being built in Kor Svay, Banteaymeanchey Province, will fete its completion on Jan. 26.
"Because our NPO depends on membership fees, building one school per year is the best we can do," Goto said, noting that as the number of schools they build grows, their maintenance costs also balloon.
This year, AMATAK received ¥175,226 from The Japan Times Readers' Fund.
Other than building schools, AMATAK said it also provides poverty-stricken people in Cambodia with rice and other food. The organization also said it donates rice and sewing machines to impoverished families, families caring for sick loved ones and villages with AIDS patients. The readers' fund has been used for those activities as well as school construction, it said.
Each new school means 300 children can receive an education, Goto said.
He is proud that one of the children his organization helped later graduated from a junior college and became a junior high school teacher.
Donations can be sent to the following bank account: Shinbashi branch of Mizuho Bank, "futsu koza" 1393499 (the name of the account is: Japan Times Dokusha no Nanmin Enjo Kikin). Checks should be made out to The Japan Times Readers' Charity Fund, c/o The Japan Times head office (4-5-4 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8071). For more information, call (03) 3453-5312.