Vietnamese School Founder in Cambodia

A woman of small business has made a contribution to founding the overseas Vietnamese Group and opening a Vietnamese school in Cambodia. When getting older, she opened a Vietnamese newspaper stall in Phnom Penh and became a sponsor for Vietnamese misleading girls.

The woman mentioned above is Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nguyet, o­ne of the founders of Vietnamese People Group in Cambodia. Despite being born and growing up in Cambodia, she has a typically Vietnamese face and dialect voice of Hung Yen land. Her parents used to be rubber plantation coolies under French colonialism since the 1940s in the previous century and settled down in this land. Although she has never returned to the hometown, she has participated in the women’s union, persuading women to be involved in the fight for the South liberation in early 1960s when Uncle Ho appealed to all fellow-countrymen to unite for the fight against America. She called upon all overseas Vietnamese to donate money for the Revolution and support families who had members participating in the resistance war.


Contribution to the foundation of Overseas Vietnamese Association


After several years coming back to Vietnam to avoid Pol Pot misfortune, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nguyet, her husband and their 6 small children returned back to Cambodia in the early 1980s. For the first time, she worked as a tailor and her husband as a motorcycle repairer. Like thousands of Vietnamese people in Cambodia, she and her husband had to work hard to make ends meet. However, she still took over the head of the resident group in her area, working as the link to communicate to the Vietnamese community about Cambodia’s State’s policies. Therefore, she understood Vietnamese residents’ difficulties and found ways to help them. After 4-5 years of undertaking the position, it was suggested she establish the Overseas Vietnamese Association by the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh. Together with prestigious overseas Vietnamese people in the Community like Mr. Ba Gia, Tam Sanh, Tu Ba, she has laid the initial foundation for the Vietnamese community’s organization in the capacity of Executive Board’s members responsible for cultural and social issues.


At first, with o­nly several members, the Executive Board covered a large area including 7 districts of Phnom Penh with nearly 30.000 overseas Vietnamese people. Hence, as taking o­n the heavy responsibility, she had to give up working as a tailor even though she did not get any support from the Association at first. Not until 1995 did she receive the support of 30,000 RIA (equivalent to 120,000 VND).

Building Vietnamese primary school


Her biggest contribution to the Vietnamese community is the school named after Tan Tien, nearby the Overseas Vietnamese Association’s location in Cambodia. This is a unique school which trains Vietnamese language according to Vietnam’s textbook parallel to subjects in Khmer language. Actually, she has had this intention since 1986, stemming from the aspiration of her children and thousands of Vietnamese boys and girls to know the Vietnamese language. o­n undertaking the responsibility assigned by the Overseas Vietnamese Association, Mrs. Nguyet requested the Vietnamese Embassy to support 10,000 USD. She herself raised an additional 10,000 USD from the Vietnamese community. In 1993, the first school of this kind with 4 classrooms was established. Up until 1996, she persuaded to build a further 6 classrooms for 16 classes from kindergarten to the 5th level and receive over 700 overseas Vietnamese people’s children in Phnom Penh. Beyond raising money, she studied the teaching profession to receive the decision o­n school establishment and persuaded the education sector in Cambodia to permit shifting pupils graduating from this primary school to Khmer secondary schools. She also traveled to Tay Ninh and An Giang to invite Vietnamese teachers to teach at the school. It wasn’t until 2001 when the school came into stability that she asked for retirement. And just last year, as 400 Vietnamese households in Nerot, Mien Chay district fell into fire, she was seen hurriedly lobbying for donations.


After she stopped working with the Overseas Vietnamese Association, she opened in its location a shop selling books and newspapers including over 20 different newspapers published from Vietnam. At present Mrs. Nguyet sell about 1000 copies of newspapers o­n a wider outreach to Siemriep where is populated with a big Vietnamese community.


On the occasion of National Independence Day last year, Mrs. Nguyet was invited to visit Hanoi Capital by the Vietnam’s Party and State and was commended by state leaders.

Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper
Translated by VWU Int’l Relations Department