The size of the first piece of land acquired by Don Bosco in Poipet is 28.721 Square meters, it was bought in November 2001 for only 1.2$ per square meter.

The construction work started in March 2002 by raising the land and building a fence all around it. This work was completed at the end of May 2002. On that same month we started laying the foundations of the guest house and the Store (which will be later on a technical workshop). The importance of building a store is to stock up rice, oil and soybeans for the School Feeding Program that will be implemented in Poipet from October 2002 onwards. The aim of this program is to feed 22.000 children in the Poipet area. The guest house will be the ‘Home Sweet Home’ of Bruno and Catalina who are the volunteers to come to Poipet in order to oversee all start up activities. Among the Salesians, Brother Roberto is in charge of overseeing the construction and the activity of the volunteers. Father John Visser is in charge of all relations with the many donors of the project.




On the 19th January, Father Provincial visited the new Don Bosco site of Poipet: his appreciation is very positive to continue with the work.


MAY 2002


We started to sponsor 30 children with the Don Bosco Children Fund. The distribution is organized in the house of the church and one staff is in charge of it. Bruno and Catalina travel from Battambang every 2 weeks to study the situation of Poipet and start the other projects (Literacy Center, House for vulnerable children and a School Feeding Program). At that time it took 4 hours to cover the 114 km!


JULY 2002

We had to stop the collaboration with the constructor Mr. Nomady and had to ask another team to come: this is the Vietnamese group of Yao from Sihanoukville that will come to stay here and continue the construction of Don Bosco Center.


30 new children are sponsored with Don Bosco Children Fund for a total of 60.


We cemented the road from the entrance to the store to allow the trucks to deliver easily the 2000MT of goods for the feeding program.


The Store and the House were finished in October and November 2002.

In order to start the educative activities the soonest, we built a temporary building in steel with 3 class rooms, one office and a kitchen.  After one year living in Battambang, Bruno and Catalina came to live in Poipet on the 2nd of November.


The first 60 children started class on Monday 9th of December. The project is a Literacy center for children between 10 and 15 years old. The School Feeding Program also distributed its first meal on that day.


The 21st of January had a major event: the arrival of Don Bosco statue in our center in presence of Hector and Ellen Loontjens. On the same day, the very
first street
boy, named Pao, came to stay with us at Don Bosco. A few days later, Saline, the first abandoned girl also joined us.

On the 31st we organized the opening ceremony in presence of the Governor of Banteay Meanchey Province, the authorities of Education, Bishop Kike, Salesians from Bangkok and Phnom Penh, the Salesians sisters from Battambang and many children. Father John Visser gave the main speech.


The borders between Thailand and Cambodia were closed after riots occurred in Phnom Penh, destroying the Thai embassy and many Thai businesses in the Cambodian capital. The situation in Poipet is very difficult; some speak about a potential human catastrophe. Indeed, Poipet is alive thanks to the border traffic. The ones that can afford it start to go back to their home district. The poorest have nothing to eat. We continue to provide food in the schools so the children had at least one good meal a day. Don Bosco organizes distribution of food (dry soup and soy sauce) in the poorest villages. The price of construction materials is increasing but we can still get them through illegal border points in the north. The construction slowed down but never stopped.

The border reopened on the 29 of March 2003.

On the 14th of February, the first 10 children from the traffic with Thailand were sent to us by the International Organization for Migrations (IOM).