Kep Province, rising from the ashes

The official opening of a residence for young women studying at the Don Bosco Vocational Center in Kep City was the opportunity to remember that the tiniest Cambodian province was few decades ago a scenery of violence under the action of the Khmer Rouge guerrilla. ‘Our province was sadly a place of violence. We remember for example the regrettable fate of three foreign young men kidnapped and murdered by people without mercy in 1994, not far from this place, where now we see the growing of this technical school for a more peaceful and progressive future of our nation,’ said Kep Province‘s governor Ken Satha during a ceremony at the school last Wednesday 7th November.

The governor was referring to Australian David Wilson, British Mark Slater and French Jean Michel Braquet, kidnapped on 26 July 1994 in their way from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. There were held hostages for 100 days by a Khmer Rouge unit leaded by Nuon Paet and other two, who are currently in prison. The guerrilla was asking the three governments to pay a ransom of 50 thousand dollars in gold for each one. They were murdered around 28 September when the army leaded an offensive in the region.

The governor of Kep Province, Ken Satha, with some leaders of the Don Bosco schools in Cambodia: at the right Mr. Piet de Visser, president of the Dutch organization Foundation for Cambodia and the main donor of the young women’s residence, Fr Albeiro Rodas, director of Don Bosco Kep and at his right Fr John Visser, Don Bosco Cambodia country representative.

But old Kep Province is changing very much and we hope for a best. Some of the old French houses, many of them as old as five decades, remain as the evidence of what was a best time before Cambodia entered a nightmare period. Hopefully, some of those now ruined mansions should be preserved for history and even declared a national heritage.

Now Kep is a lovely peaceful place with silent nights and a colorful view of hills, sea, islands and woods. New developments are under way to prepare the region for ecological and responsible tourism. ‘To build a school is to build the future of our nation,’ said governor Ken Satha to the teachers, students and leaders of the Don Bosco Kep school. ‘It is to think in our children, our youth, our women, it is to open a space for life, for protection, to build our country,’ he concluded.

The Bantei Srei Hostel for young women is located inside the campus of the Don Bosco Vocational Center in the west coast of Kep. The new development of the school began in October 2011 as a technical center to provide technical skills for young farmers and orphans of Kep, Kampot and Takeo provinces.

This vocational center intends to become also a children and youth center, where local youth can come not only to learn but also to play and to love ecology,’ said teacher Bun Ponlork.  


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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