Prey Lovear village, Sangkat Chom Chao 1 , Khan Po Senchey, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia
LEGACY OF OUR FOUNDERS
NUON PHALY was born in the Cambodian province of Kandal in 1942. She was only eleven years old when Cambodia declared independence from France at the end of 1953. She finished high school, started a family, and learned to take shorthand in French and Khmer during the brief period of peace that followed. She was a senior secretary at the Ministry of Finance by 1972. When the Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh in April 1975, NUON was among the tens of thousands of Cambodians who were forcibly relocated to the countryside. She survived the killing fields but fled with her family to a refugee camp on the Thai border in 1984, hoping for a new and better life abroad.
Phaly joined a research project to document the experiences of her fellow camp members under the Khmer Rouge after failing to qualify for asylum in another country. As a result, she met many women who had been traumatized by war, torture, and family separation. Widows endured excruciating pain. Because no one seemed to be addressing this specific need, she began to address it herself.
Mrs. Nuon Phaly died in 2012, at the age of 70, in a tragic traffic accident, and Mr. Hem Soeurn died on July 9, 2021, at the age of 81.
The two founders dedicated their time, energy, and love to make a difference in the lives of so many children. Many of them have established their own families and pursued their own goals and ambitions.
The founder's dreams were to help as many children as possible and to instill love and care in the hearts of those children. They want the children to have a happy and peaceful life. FLO is our founder's invaluable legacy, and it is still serving children today. Thank you to all of our dedicated staff, friends, and supporters who continue to support the mission of our greatest founders.
MRS. NUON PHALY
MR. HEM SOEURN
In 1985, Phaly and her partner, Mr. Hem Soeurn, opened a small house in the camp as a counseling center for refugees suffering from depression. Her modest center quickly grew to accommodate thirty-five women, as well as sixteen children whose parents were lost or incapacitated by mental illness, thanks to the support of the Catholic Office for Emergency Refugee Relief and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She named it the Khmer People's Depression Relief Center, or KPDR, in 1987.
Phaly studied Western mental health therapies in Thailand after beginning with her own compassionate instincts and the help of traditional Khmer healers. She combined these approaches at KPDR to create a one-of-a-kind counseling service. Most of the women in her care eventually returned to their normal lives outside of the center.
Mr. Nuon Phaly and Mr. Hem Soeurn returned to Cambodia in 1993 as part of a UNHCR-organized repatriation program. There were 92 children from the KPDR center who joined them. They settled in Phnom Penh as one big family behind the Chinese Embassy.
Mrs. Phaly Nuon and Mr. Hem Soeurn established an orphanage on land purchased on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 1995, with permission from His Majesty King Father and the Royal Government of Cambodia. At the time, the center also received rice assistance from World Food Program.
In 1998, Mrs. Nuon Phaly became the first Cambodian woman to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award in the Philippines.
“It is the obsession of my life to serve the underprivileged of humanity, especially women and children, and to extend to them the recognition and the rights they deserve. I accept this award on behalf of Cambodian women and children who have been the most oppressed and forgotten people of the Cambodian community.”
FUTURE LIGHT ORGANIZATION