Welcome to Smiling Hearts Association for Children (SHAC). Please Help Us By Donating Regularly!


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Our Founder & Director's Vision

What you do today is a preparation for what you can achieve for tomorrow.

Smiling Hearts Association for Children ( SHAC ) is an NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We are an entirely charity-supported school with the goal of providing Cambodian students a good education.

I feel very passionate about creating this school as I know how fortunate I am to have had the opportunities that I had when I was younger. I want to give back to needy people, orphans and poor children who have not been as lucky as me. My aim is to improve the lives of children as much as possible; I believe only education can change their lives. I have a passion for working with children and giving something back to my community & I welcome others with like goals. It has been a difficult but rewarding journey getting to this point, and I have learned new things every day. I feel that my team of volunteer teachers and I can pass on my skills to the children to encourage them to see that learning is important and can be fun in a safe environment.

The skills I feel that we at SHAC offer to the children are international understanding and ability to speak the English language. On a personal level, I feel that stories from my life as an orphan, understanding the lack of love from family, poverty, the need to be strong and to strive for a better life all give me a unique perspective to share with Cambodia's next generation. Through showing them real examples from our own lives, we can motivate them to see their future as something full of potential rather than hardship, and provide the tools to realize that potential. My team is very hard working, committed, devoted and adaptable to all the challenges we face.

SHAC opened its doors on November 1, 2010 and has become an outstanding example of how free education and a nurturing environment for the children of our community can be achieved through hard work and passion. Thanks to the efforts of our team and the generous, ongoing support of our international volunteers & contributors, SHAC now has over 310 students studying in 8 classes which are organized from kindergarten to 6th grade.

At Smiling Hearts Association for Children, children experience how to be self-reliant through an atmosphere of trust, while developing the skills which will allow them to become Cambodia's generation of hope, inspiring and leading the generations to follow.

Our Founder & Director's Story

Mrs. Somaly (Aly) San

Founder & Director of SHAC

Aly was born into poverty, and struggled to make it through her schooling. She was taunted by her classmates because she was poor, and she had to create her own school supplies, making pencils by burning sticks and developing water pigments from flowers and plants.

Through her hard work and her faith, she gradually overcame her poverty and devoted her life to helping underprivilged children. She can truly understand and identify with their difficulties. Her goal is to inspire the children to reach toward higher goals and empower themselves to rise above their hardship just as she has.

Smiling Hearts continues to grow in both size and reputation with student enrollment having more than tripled in the first three years.