top of page


About Cambodia


Cambodia, a Southeast Asian nation of plains and rivers, lies amid crucial trade routes. Its capital, Phnom Penh, reflects diverse cultural influences. Between 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge regime devastated the country, causing at least 1.5 million deaths. After the regime's fall and subsequent clashes, Cambodia began recovering under the Vietnam-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979–89). In the 1990s, it regained autonomy, established a constitutional government, and held elections. While the economy has improved, Cambodia remains a developing country with rural poverty. Despite challenges, it embraces the proverb, "Fear not the future, weep not for the past."



Phnom Penh


Main Religions



Time Zone

UTC+07:00 (ICT)






181,035 km2



17,091,464 (2023 estimate)

Arrival of Marists


Number of Marist Brothers Communities

Number of Brothers



1 - LaValla School, Takhmao

Marists in Cambodia: Empowering the  Lives of those with disabilities through LaValla School



Cambodia's recent history cried out for support from the international community. During the period of the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent civil war, volunteers from around the world, including Marist Brothers like Terry Heinrich and Brian Etherington, came to work in refugee camps on the Thai border.


Marists' Commitment to Serving Those Affected 

After the Paris agreement and the return of Cambodians to their homes, the need for support continued. Marists came to Cambodia to discern how best to serve the  traumatised people. Following a period of discernment and searching for those in greatest need, Terry Heinrich and other Brothers (Claudius, Badior, Paul, etc.) established the LaValla School for children and youth with disabilities in 1998 in Phnom Penh.


A Quarter-Century of Care and Education


Marist Solidarity Cambodia (MSC)

MSC is an international non-governmental organisation that encompasses the LaValla Project - LaValla School, LaValla Village Hostel, and an Outreach Program. MSC works with underprivileged young people, especially those with disabilities. The organisation empowers these individuals by offering new and better opportunities, hoping that formal education will prove decisive in transforming their circumstances.


LaValla School, established by the Marist Brothers from Australia in Phnom Penh in 1998, is a government-approved school in Cambodia providing a full elementary school education for children and young people with physical disabilities.


An outreach program of the LaValla Project assists approximately 100 young Cambodians with physical disabilities who live at home and attend their local schools. Many of MSC's students come from rural provinces of Cambodia, and due to difficulties with travel, they are residential students. In 2010, MSC was established to integrate various programs and sites into one entity, which we now call the LaValla Project, with its own Board of Directors under the aegis of the Marist Brothers' Star of the Sea Province.

MSC is governed by a Board of Directors on behalf of the SOTS Provincial and Council. Br Brian Kinsella is the Board Chair, and Dr Sothun Nop is the Executive Director. The Board, including Br Allen Sherry, FMS, meets six times per year to discuss matters related to the governance of the LaValla Project.  






Two Brothers comprise the current community at the LaValla School in Takhmao. The Brothers here are involved in Administration, especially in support of the finances of the projects and also with the Board of Marist Solidarity Cambodia. The Brothers' house is situated on the campus of the LaValla School.

Marist Life and Mission Groups


Marist life here is intrinsic to the LaValla Project. The staff are predominantly Buddhist and are Khmer speakers. There is some English spoken, but not fluently, so, Marist life here does not follow the same pattern as in locations with a larger Catholic population. That said, the staff and students join with the Brothers in celebrating Marist feasts and local celebrations with a Christian/Buddhist prayer service.

School Ministry LaValla School is an accelerated primary school program to provide an opportunity for students to complete a primary education in a shorter period than the government schools. Primary students in government schools only attend for half a day. At LaValla School the students have classes from 8.00am to 4.00pm.


When the students have finished grade 6 at LaValla School, they have the opportunity to go to the government high school in Takhmao and live in the LaValla Village Hostel adjacent to the LaValla School. The project also supports around 70 disabled young people living with their families and attending their local rural school.

Read more about Marist Solidarity Cambodia and the LaValla School. 

Marist Presence in Cambodia

bottom of page