Rich Cromwell’s humanitarian projects in Cambodia are impressive and often accomplished with a relatively small budget. He completes a thorough community needs assessment before he begins, sets measurable goals, and works for a sustainable outcome. It is impressive that he has involved young Cambodians in the collection of his data, involving them in the projects. These humanitarian efforts make an enormous difference!
International Service Committee Chair
We met Sitha Toeung Director of CIO & his lovely wife Sreymon Rath back in 2012. Our Cambodian guide & friend, Maroeun Heng recommended their centre to us as an honest & worthwhile project, if we wanted to help Cambodian children & we did. We visited their centre & after spending an afternoon with them & their large family of children, a lifelong friendship began! We have been to Cambodia 11 times & continue to spend a large amount of each of these visits with the CIO Family. To see the care & love that Sitha & Sreymom give to these children is a sheer delight to behold. To observe the respect & love the children have for their adopted parents is equally beautiful. We have had the pleasure of taking them all out for a meal on several occasions & the behaviour of all the children on these occasions is amazing. They are so polite, respectful, caring & helpful, never a struggle of any kind, these outing are an absolute joy & a huge credit to the way in which Sitha & Sreymom have taught them the important values of life. The children all receive a Khmer education, with the opportunity of extra English schooling, as well as home cooked nutritious meals prepared by Sreymom & the older children. They have been taught to work together to provide 3 meals a day, to care for their own clothes & belongings, as well as to care & support each other. Several children have now completed their education & have obtained permanent employment at the airport, hotels, apprentice electrician & hospitality & this is what we hope for all of them, an opportunity to have a life.
I am so excited to think that if we all work together; it will be possible to give them a home to call their own!
CIO’s Guardian Angel
September 26th, 2015
Charlie traveled to Cambodia with Rich in 2011 shortly after returning from Afghanistan where he served with the Marines:
The trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia with Rich was an uplifting and memorable experience. Rich and his volunteers self-funded their time at the orphanages. Almost 100% of the donations was allocated to the orphanage infrastructure. Rich planned and executed critical projects that immediately improved living conditions for the children and staff.
For example, between classes and meals, the children and staff would assist us with our kitchen renovation, water purification, plumbing projects and installation of mosquito nets. After a day of purchasing materials, transporting them to the orphanages and project work, Rich would buy ice cream for the children and we would play volleyball until the early evening.
Rich’s international development projects in Cambodia have touched the hearts and minds of several orphanages. The deep cultural background and future potential of the lives of every child in Cambodia touched by Rich’s initiatives make that potential a daily reality.
Thank you, Rich.
Charles N. Frangis
Rich is a get-it-done kind of guy. Rich sees a need, and figures out how to take care of that need, and he does so without fanfare or self promotion. In Cambodia, Rich is making sure that children the rest of us will never meet will have more healthy, more fulfilling futures. Through Rotary, Rich has used grants money to make a difference, and he has always shown as much — more! — concern for husbanding Rotary money than he does his own. I cannot recommend Rich and his humanitarian work more highly.
Marty Peak Helman
District 7780 Foundation Chair 2015-2016
Past District Governor
One of the best decisions I have made was to join the Bath Rotary Club. People ask me why I have been in Rotary for the past 35 years. The answer is easy; it’s the Rotarians that you meet who have dedicated their lives to helping others live a better life. Rotarian Rich Cromwell is such a person.
Two years ago I was visiting another Rotary Club and Rich Cromwell was the guest speaker. He was talking that night about his trips riding his bike to countries in the world. He said that night while riding in Cambodia he came across an orphanage with 29 children. Living conditions were deplorable with no clean water or sanitations. Their building consisted of three walls and a blue tarp for a roof.
During the next few weeks of his stay in Cambodia, with a back ground of building houses and engineering and with the help of the children, he dug a well and made a sand filter for the clean water. They also would put in a temporary sanitation system. This may seem small but made a huge difference in how they would live in the next few months.
During the next weeks I convinced Rich to join the Bath Rotary Club. During the first year we applied for a District Grant which would allow Rich to do more of his important work in the orphanage in Cambodia. We got the Grant and our Club gave over $1,000, with the help of four other Clubs in the District, Rich was able to make some great improvements to the orphanage. Last year we applied for another Rotary District Grant but this one was to explore the possibility of doing a larger project that would involve a village of over 600 people. They had the same deplorable living conditions that the 29 children had in the orphanage.
With the survey being done, this year we will continue to help Rich fund his project and continue to work on improving the living conditions of the orphanage and work on acquiring a Rotary Global Grant to start the process of improving the living conditions of the Village.
Our Club of 45 members and the four other Clubs in the district are amazed at how much Rich can do in these villages. With the continued help of Rotarians and the public he will make a difference in the lives of many in Cambodia.
Rich is an amazing person and I am honored to be a part of his dedication to the Cambodia people.
Rotarian Lee Patenaude
Member of the Bath Rotary Club, District 7780
Twice President of the Bath Rotary Club 6291
Three years as Asst. District Governor of District 7780
Twice a Paul Harris Fellow
35 Years as a member of Rotary District 7780
When Rich Cromwell gave a presentation to the Bath Rotary Club in 201, a number of folks felt that Rich’s work in Cambodia could provide a direct, personal connection to international work that had previously been missing for the Bath Club, which through its long history had always supported the international projects of other clubs. Rich joined the club and we began a collaboration that has in two years gone from support of a health and sanitation project in a single orphanage on the outskirts of the city of Siam Reap to multi-year project beginning with a through and holistic survey of the needs of a group of villages in a remote corner of Siam Reap province. This has gone on to include detailed planning for the installation and follow-up maintenance of wells, latrines and, especially, simple, durable and effective water filters. The surveying and planning have been carried out by Rich in close collaboration with Water for Cambodia, a well-established and widely respected Cambodian NGO in the water and sanitation field that already has a strong track record with national and provincial authorities and with Rotary International.
In addition to the survey and planning work Rich has undertaken with support from the Rotary Club of Bath, he has also engaged high school students in and out of the Bath Interact Club in the water, sanitation and health issues the project addresses, including by building the type of water filter used in the project.
The meticulous planning that has been the hallmark of this project will ensure that when funding is available, the project will deliver significant, testable, results in the physical health and social capacity of the villages assisted, and hopefully provide a model for further projects. The Rotary Club of Bath is tremendously proud of Rich’s work and of our support for it, and we hope others will join us!
Rotary Club of Bath, Maine