Speech of H.E. Khem Setha during the official opening of the Project “Don Bosco Kep Campus Friendly to Children and Youth with Disabilities” on Tuesday, January 31, 2017


  • Mr Sean Callahan (លោក សៀន កាឡាហាណ), USAID Cambodia Deputy Mission Director
  • Fr Mark Hyde (លោកឪពុក ម៉ាក ហាអីដ), Salesian Missions Director
  • Mr Jaime Correa (លោក ហាអីមេ កុរេអា), Office for International Programs Director
  • Fr Roel Soto (លោកឪពុក រូអេល សូតុ), Don Bosco Cambodia Director
  • Fr Ly Samnang (លោកឪពុក លីសំណាង), Rector Don Bosco Kep
  • Fathers and Brothers of Don Bosco (លោកឪពុលនិងបងប្រុស នែអង្គការដុនបូស្កូូកម្ពុជា
  • Teachers and Students

Today the Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Students and Teachers of Don Bosco in all countries celebrate the Feast of Don Bosco that takes place every 31st of January. It is the anniversary of the passing away of Don Bosco in the year 1888 in Turin, Italy, Europe. 

Don Bosco or Father Bosco, was a holy man, a member of the Catholic Church, which dedicated his life to rescue children and young people from poverty to become good people. Among those children and youth, were orphans, street children, children from poor farmers of his time. All these children and youth of that time, became a big family. That family, became a big group for the education of more children and youth in many other countries and in other continents.

Don Bosco became a Teacher and a Hope for children and youth not only of his time, but until our time.

We can remember Don Bosco during the worst times of our Cambodian history. After years of wars, divisions and high poverty, Don Bosco was among those organizations that came to Cambodia to give the hand to poor children and youth.

Today, this school of Don Bosco in Kep Province, opens its doors also for children and youth who are handicap. It is not something different of what we know about Don Bosco. It is a part of what Don Bosco does for the good of those who are poorer and in need.

Unfortunately, we, Cambodians, have suffered a lot of problems in our modern times. It is almost normal to see many of our country people mutilated in their bodies of a leg, a hand, an eye or blind, deaf, scrolling on the earth. We all must remember that they are our own siblings. They are Cambodians with the same rights and duties of any one of us. We cannot forget our Cambodian handicap people and we should do whatever is possible to ensure they live a good life, become also happy in body, mind and soul.

In the name of all the Cambodian children and youth who are handicapped and who will come one day to study also here, in Don Bosco Kep, I want to present my words of gratitude to all of you: first, to the Fathers and Brothers of Don Bosco, who work every day to make the lives of poor children and youth much better. Especially to Fr Samnang, who is here in Kep since 2011, joining with his teachers, volunteers and students the good dreams to see our Kep Province as a star of development and care for our Cambodian society.

A word of gratitude to all the donors who come to the encounter of the needs of Projects like Don Bosco in Cambodia. In this particular Project, the American Agency of International Aid (USAID) and the American Agency of the Salesians of Don Bosco (Salesian Missions). It is very important that donors like you, keep in supporting projects of organizations like Don Bosco, because it guarantees that the real poor receives the 100 percent of the aid. I personally have seen how this Don Bosco school has grown since 2011 from the hands of Fr Samnang and his team of teachers and youth. In only five years, they have done much more than many other organizations do with much funds. It is not only to see all these nice buildings and the evident care of our environment, but also a place of happiness, meditation and love for the children and youth not only from our Kep Province, but from other regions of Cambodia.

I am also very much happy that I can participate in this ceremony where these international agencies give officially this Project to Don Bosco, a Project that will make a very positive impact on the lives of Cambodian children and youth from this Cambodian region. It is also in a time where we have advanced the remodeling of the National Road 33A. We can see that the gates of Don Bosco are now located in a good place, with a big avenue. We have cared to put the signs on the road to make drivers aware that they are crossing a school area made by Don Bosco, the Department of Education and the Public School. I am very sorry that we cannot put yet the public lights because we still waiting for the funds, but we will continue the construction of the road from this area of Don Bosco to the next public school. It is an area full of lives, children, youth, all students, enjoying all these facilities every day, including holidays, learning English, computer, playing sports, music. This area of Prey Thom District is becoming a center of the Province for children and youth, a center of education. Fr Samnang has asked me some times to install a pedestrian bridge between the schools. Of course, we would like to see it. At the moment, we cannot assume such expenses, but if Don Bosco leads the Project, we will support your idea. We can see that it integrates the school and becomes a model of development for all Cambodia. You think about it, Fr Samnang. Keep on thinking and proposing, because we understand that all these projects have as targets the good of the Cambodian people, especially those who are poorer or those who are smaller, or those who are vulnerable. Opening access to everybody, to every child, is opening access to the future.

You, students of Don Bosco, became a model of behavior in Kep Province. Many people speak very well about you. Please keep that good fame. Take care of your school, give honor to your family always. Stay away from problems like drugs. Just for this problem of drugs, the Cambodian government is working to prevent that young people fall in drugs, because it destroys the life of a person and his family. Just this month the authorities have arrested near 1,000 persons related with drugs. But we now make a distinction between users and drug dealers. Drug dealers are those who distribute drugs even in small proportions. But users are people who need to be cured from their addiction. If a person is arrested because drug usage, this person will be sent to a rehabilitation center to become cleaned and come back into society as a good person. You, students, keep the good work.

I want to tell all of you, teachers, please dedicate your life to your students. Assuring that they get a real good education. Thanks for doing good to other people, especially children and youth.

And for the donors, please don’t forget Projects like Don Bosco. It is important that Projects like Don Bosco continue their mission in the way Don Bosco is doing.