History | Aspire School & Orphanage, Siem Reap, Cambodia

History of MR. SEAN SAMNANG (Founder - Director)

ASPIRE School for the children and Home Stay for volunteers and visitors. Mr. Sean Samnang is a local Cambodian who recognized the urgent need to help the many destitute and orphaned children living in his country. This situation was brought about because Cambodia’s education and health care systems were completely destroyed during the Khmer Rouge Genocide with Cambodia unable to make significant gains in rebuilding due to the subsequent 2 decades long civil war. Even now, Cambodia’s education and health care systems remain in shambles. Siem Reap itself is one of the poorest areas in Cambodia with over 75% of the poor people living in dire poverty. Sean was born in 1980 and grew up in a very poor family, working on a farm to pay his way through secondary school and English school. He also worked for seven months in a tailoring factory for ten to thirteen hours a day just to complete his education. Receiving help and encouragement from a sponsor in Thailand, he moved to Phnom Penh where he worked for a charitable organization on a voluntary basis, and there received his board and lodging. Volunteering in return for board and lodging is still common in Cambodia today, with the members of staff at ASPIRE all being local volunteers.


COSO (Cambodian Orphan Save Organisation)



Since Sean himself had received help when he most needed it, Sean wanted to be able to provide help and opportunities for others. Sean was offered a position as branch manager of a new orphanage in Siem Reap while he was still studying (he completed his education in 2008). The initial aim of this project was to bring in children from the surrounding neighbourhood to teach English and Apsara (the traditional Khmer dancing). Although this venture was welcomed by the local community, it sadly failed due to a lack of donations or a stable sponsor.



The area around Siem Reap was and still is extremely poor, and Sean still wanted to be able to work in this area. He understood the steps he needed to take to get official permission to open an orphanage, but he lacked the money to begin the process. His parents offered to use their home and piece of land as a guarantee against a bank loan. They were thus able to borrow Riel (US$250). With this money Sean was able to pay for the documents to be processed, to pay for necessary travel, design a logo and rent a small house and piece of land. The documents were finally complete on 5th December 2006, and the organization was called (formerly COSO) Cambodian Orphan Save Organisation.  Even with all Sean’s ongoing dedication this venture failed due to lack of finance.





Determined to help the children, Sean began Aspire Training & Education (formed in 2012) a school and home for poor, homeless and orphans in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia that provides care for 20 children and free education for 80 children altogether. 


The first step was to invite local children to come for Apsara (traditional Khmer dancing) and English classes. A number of the children needed to come and live at the house, although at that stage there was no funding so Sean went around the villages asking for food donations. The families knew him from the first venture COSO, they trusted him and gave whatever they could. Sean’s continued determination has developed Aspire to what it is today.


Sean’s ambition is to be able to help at least 300 more children with housing and education. Already, some children that have passed through Aspire have been able to be sponsored onto University, thus giving them a more secure future. Aspire is very proud of these children.

The Aspire buildings need to be completed to enable this ambition to become a reality and so sponsorship or donations are always gratefully received. Today Sean, his wife Borie, their children, teaching staff and  the Aspire children live at Trang Village on National Road 6, 7 kilometres east of Siem Reap. This was just empty land when purchased, but due to visitors kind donations, some sponsorship and Sean’s dedication and hard work it has slowly developed into the great place for the children to live and learn. This is an ongoing progressive project, we warmly invite you all to come visit us and see the progress!

The labours are laying brick for school building !

The labours connected the steels for second levels of school building project !

The labours are progressing the concrete on second level of school building !

The first floor of ASPIRE school are finished, and we are planning to build second floor in the future.