Welcome to Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), an Education and Football NGO in Cambodia
Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) is an NGO in Cambodia that believes every child has the right to education, healthcare and play. Unfortunately, the most disadvantaged children in Cambodia are robbed of these rights. We exist to give them back.
One in three Cambodian children will never finish primary school, meaning most face a life without prospects, opportunities or hope. Our Education Programme focuses on children in the slums of the capital Phnom Penh whose extreme poverty mean they have never gone to school or have had to drop out. We provide them with a quality education and a real future, while working closely in their communities to lift entire families out of poverty.
At the same time, thousands of children across Cambodia are forced by dire economic circumstances to work, robbing them of a happy, healthy childhood. ISF’s pioneering Football Programme gives children the chance to play again, while also teaching them crucial life skills. We work with schools, NGOs, community groups and the Football Federation of Cambodia to develop grassroots football across the whole the country, while also using the power of football to educate and create positive social change.
ISF, an NGO in Cambodia, believes every child, no matter where they were born, should receive quality education and care. We support the poorest of the poor with education, healthcare and sports, giving them the tools they need to build a better future.
ISF believes in making a difference, one child at a time. Each of our students and football players has their own hopes, dreams and ambitions. Our NGO in Cambodia aims to nurture their unique talents and enable every child we work with to reach their potential.
ISF delivers sustainable, cost-effective and responsible support to thousands of children and young people. Our work as an NGO in Cambodia will always be led by the needs of local people. We work in partnership with local communities to ensure our programmes benefit those who need them the most.
We have ten years of experience working with some of the poorest communities in and around Phnom Penh. Our NGO in Cambodia is almost entirely run by local staff who are familiar with local challenges, customs and language. Because of their collective experience and skills, we have been able to grow from an organisation supporting just 20 children in English development to where we are today: offering holistic educational and healthcare support to almost 700 children and giving more than 3,800 children access to their right to play through our grassroots Football Programme.
ISF combines the best of private and public sector management to ensure the professional delivery of its programmes. Our Board of Trustees comprises seven veterans of the business world in Hong Kong, the UK and Australia. Their experience in the finance and banking industry insures ISF’s financial accountability and good governance. For more information, click here.
Our vision is inspired by ‘The Starfish Story’, first told in an essay by the American writer and poet Loren Eiseley in 1969:
The tide has gone out and left a million starfish stranded on the beach. They are slowly dying under the heat of the sun. A little girl is walking along the beach. She picks up a starfish and throws it back into the sea. She then picks up another one and another.
An old man watches her for a while then walks up to her and says “What are you doing little girl? There are a million starfish out there dying. You cannot believe that you can make a difference.” The girl kneels down, picks up a starfish, throws it into the sea and says, “I made a difference to that one.”
In 2005, ISF founder Peter Slater and a group of his friends, all of whom had worked and lived in Asia for a number of years, visited Cambodia. All were impacted by the beauty of the country and the warmth of its people. However, they found that the devastating effects of the Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge regime which caused the deaths of approximately 2 million Cambodians were still evident in the levels of poverty and in the lack of infrastructure and access to education.
After numerous conversations with local people and visits to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and orphanages it was clear to the group that there was a both a need and an opportunity to make a lasting difference to the lives of many Cambodian children. ISF was formed, and the group became its first Trustees.
The Trustees quickly agreed that their focus would be centred around two core programmes, an education programme and a football coaching programme, as each could have a profound and significant impact.