Local Hero Osman Ysa is a Muslim Cham from Svay Khleang Village in Cambodia and is the Executive Director of the Community Connection Cambodia (CCC), an organization committed to providing vocational training to Cham students so that they have a means to support themselves and their families.
Osman has overcome massive obstacles to reach his place in the world today. When he was just 1 year old, the Khmer Rouge invaded his village. Persecuted under the regime, the Cham rebellion ended in defeat, leaving hundreds dead including Osman’s grandparents, uncle, and aunt’s families. When the rebellion ceased, the Khmer Rouge forcibly deported the Cham to relocation camps where many died of starvation. In December 1978, following liberation by the Vietnamese, Osman and other survivors returned to their home village. The long journey took two months on foot, and land mine explosions killed many people on the way. When they arrived finally home to Svay Khleang, they found the village in ruins. In total, only 120 families had survived out of the 1,240 families that lived in the village before Pol Pot. As the community started to rebuild, they were finally able to open a two classroom school in 1981. More than two hundred children showed up every day, eager to learn.
Osman studied hard, completed high school and went to Phnom Penh to continue his education. In 1999, he started working at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, where he continues his extensive research and documentation of the Cham people and the injustices suffered by this ethnic minority from the time of the Khmer Rouge. He is the author of two books documenting this time in history. GO partnered with Osman and CCC to help establish a vocational training school for computer literacy and English that will serve 1,080 Cham students annually. Read more about Osman and his project with GO below.
GO Donor, Craig Tooman, has spent time visiting Osman and the School of Hope and shares his experience on GO's blog.
Osman Ysa Leads the Following Project