...with a small blackboard

“That time” was in December 2001 on my first journey to Cambodia, my home country and the blackboard was a gift to a small village, located at the foot of a mountain called Phnom Chiso. Already on the first day of classes 60 little children from the village gathered around the blackboard. They wanted to learn a language they didn’t know before, but these children felt that English could open up new vistas.  For one week I was teaching English to my little students, each day from 3 to 9 o’clock in the evening. During this time I noticed how motivated and with how much interest they took in every word and how their faces beamed with joy. This small blackboard laid the foundation for the relief organisation PREAH ONG, registered in March 2002, now called Sorya. For me it was the first step on a long road of responsibility and my contribution to a better world.

Hi-Khan Truong, Hamburg, Founder of the relief organisation

60 children gathered around a 25-$-blackboard - the beginning of a big project.
Our members have strong and diverse relations to Cambodia – that is especially true for Hi-Khan Truong, the founder and chairman of Sorya. Now working in Hamburg as digital media designer, he is the son of a Chinese-Cambodian merchant family from the Cambodian province Kampot.
On 17th April 1975, when the Khmer Rouge moved as heralds of the coming four years terror under Pol Pot into Phnom Penh, Hi-Khan’s family fled to Vietnam. He was born on 15th July 1977 as fourth child of the family on the Vietnamese island Phu Quoc situated just off the Cambodian coast.
The Truong family made their escape to Thailand as boatpeople in late summer 1978. They waited for several months in a refugee camp in Bangkok for their exit to the United States, but then the family’s father Su Nghiep made a life-changing decision which brought the family to Frankfurt/Main in February 1979. They arrived among 25 refugee families which were welcomed by the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate – their long odyssey had ended.
Hi-Khan spent his childhood with his family in a Rhineland city called Idar-Oberstein.
After finishing his A-levels, he moved to Hamburg where he started an apprenticeship as digital media designer. When Hi-Khan received his diploma, he decided to work self-employed as art director.

In November 2001 Hi-Khan and his father travelled to their home country Cambodia. It was the first journey to the country of his ancestors for him. Meeting his relatives and being confronted with the omnipresent poverty induced him to initiate a relief organisation. It was a mere coincidence that brought him to the villages at Phnom Chiso. Today this is the project area of our organisation.  

This small blackboard was the origin of the relief organisation Sorya. (click&zoom)
On 9th March 2002 15 people came together in Hamburg-Rothenbaum to found the relief organisation PREAH ONG. On 12th April it was registered as charitable non-profit organisation. In September of the same year, the organisation raised enough money to build Alysha Chan School in Tropang Sdock. It was named after Hi-Khan’s niece Alysha Chloé Blömker, who was born in the same month.

In Cambodia, the words PREAH ONG are used to address honoured and wise people. Unfortunately they turned out to be ambiguous - PREAH ONG also means god. As we encountered difficulties when we were trying to register our organisation in Cambodia for this reason we decided to rename it. In November 2005 the Cambodian part was registered under the name Sorya Cambodian Development Organisation. The German part agreed to this change on the annual general meeting in December 2005. The renaming of our organisation to Sorya e.V. (accredited organisation) in the register of associations took place exactly four years after the foundation of PREAH ONG, on 12th April 2006.