Across the Border
Either coated in dust or rutted in mud, the refugee camp Sigh II – situated in the mountains of Thailand – was the birthplace of Sam Ol. His very poor and humble beginning set a stirring in his heart to fight for justice causes in society. It would become a foundation for his vision to be a part of restoring the nation of Cambodia. Originally from a tiny village in Battambang Province, his father was a Buddhist monk before the Khmer Rouge drove them across the Thai border. His father then became a soldier for Cambodia.
They returned to Cambodia in 1990, when Sam Ol was a young boy. The family moved around a lot, hiding from Khmer Rouge and rebel groups. Sam Ol felt the sting of having a father who was gone throughout his childhood. This life was not easy on him and his family. He missed out on much of his early education due to the constant uprooting, instilling in him a value for stability and education. His heart held compassion for the poor and downtrodden.
A Heart for Restoration
Growing up in a Buddhist home, Sam Ol did not like or understand Christians. However, the desire to play football drew him on a regular basis to a local church in his teen years. He went to be with his friends but the message of the faith began to seep in. After moving to Phnom Penh to study computer science at Norton University, he ended up living in a Christian dorm.
The young people in his dorm shared his vision of restoring Cambodia. Together they dreamed and worked to live out this vision. His time in that dorm drew him to God and strengthened his faith. A God of restoration, justice, and new life awakened within him, solidifying his dreams for Cambodia. Now, his wife and two-year-old daughter are also central motivation to keep working for justice and family preservation within Cambodia.
Sam Ol in CIF
Sam Ol spent six years working for Chab Dai in their work to eradicate human trafficking. He was the Coalition Manager, leading one of the projects and coordinating partnerships with over 50 organizations. CIF is one of Chab Dai’s partners, so Sam Ol knew of our work, and that we have a good relationship with Chab Dai.
Sam Ol said of CIF, “The founders follow God’s heart. God cares for children. He wants them to have a voice.”
The change came when he was praying about his next steps in life. He wanted a new experience and wanted to go where God was leading him when the OSCAR Management position became available. This role includes overseeing CIF’s programs, dealing with international upscaling, meeting donor and government compliance, and the constantly evolving international sustainability plan.
Sam Ol has been with CIF since November 2016 and says it is growing rapidly, with numbers of staff and programs growing in the past year. CIF is becoming well known, leading out in Cambodia with Family Based Care. OSCaR has also come a long way in his year with CIF. 15 other organizations are now using the program, three of which are international. And even the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth has agreed to a plan to utilize OSCAR, paired with UNICEF’s RCI Digital Inspection application. Sam Ol has his work expanding all the time, as even this month he was busy presenting the program to a huge group of NGOs in Cambodia.
Sam Ol is positive about the role of CIF, and of OSCaR, in Cambodia’s future. “CIF can contribute a lot to the nation, giving hope to a generation that was hurt and abandoned. They can now have a future. OSCaR helps in this by providing accurate numbers for research and care. Information can be powerful. Statistics help educate and show how to target and meet needs.”
*To find out more about the OSCaR program that Sam Ol manages, check out www.oscarhq.com