ABOUT BUILD YOUR FUTURE TODAY
Build Your Future Today Center (BFT) was established as an NGO in April 2006, and grew from the personal desire of its founder, Sedtha Long, a survivor of the brutal years of the Khmer Rouge, to help give back to his country.
In 1975, after five years of civil war, the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, introducing a Maoist-inspired revolution of a collective agrarian society in which there would be no money, education or individuality. The Khmer Rouge emptied major cities almost overnight, forcing residents to move to the countryside, to work and become like “the base people”, subsistence farmers who had not been tainted by education. More than two million people (out of a population of eight million people) died as a result, from starvation, overwork, torture and murder, in what was called The Elimination. (The use of the word “Genocide” also is sometimes used but is controversial because the murder was not so much ethnically as ideologically motivated, and the intention wasn’t to destroy an entire people or race). Vietnam invaded (wording to be checked) Cambodia in 1979, ousting the Khmer Rouge, but Cambodia suffered further severe fighting for another 10 years. The Khmer Rouge ceased to be active only in 1999.
The aftermath of so much trauma will take generations from which to recover. A recent Harvard University study estimates that at least 50 per cent of Cambodians meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Stress is compounded by the legacy of malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, human trafficking, plus drug, alcohol and gambling addiction. Land mines continue to cause loss of limbs or even death, although much of Cambodia has now been cleared and made safe.
Our aim is to empower the Cambodian people with the emotional, intellectual and economic tools to attain self-sufficiency. We believe that education is the key to developing economic stability, personal well-being and peace, both for individual families, and for the whole of Cambodian society. In particular, we seek to empower women, many of whom still leave education at the age of about 14, when they start menstruating, because they do not have access to menstrual hygiene products. That issue in the Third World is only now being talked about openly and as a priority.
BFT works with many partner organizations, including those that provide healthcare, access to water, school and community center building, plus training and microfinance for sustainable businesses that include fruit growing, sewing, pig and fish farming.