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In His Own Words: Chanly Bob Shares Passion for Philanthropy

At age 8, Chanly Bob immigrated to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia. Bob’s father, a farmer in a small village in the Battambong Province of Cambodia, was killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Along with his mother and three older brothers, Bob made the transition from the refugee camps along the Thai/Cambodian border, to the Philippines, and settling in Albany, Oregon. He gives praise to the Faith Lutheran Churches and the many humanitarians in Albany who helped his family settle and adapt to a new culture and a new way of life.

Adopting to their new home wasn’t easy, but the family managed to eke out a living doing menial work, to supplement the state aid they received. Bob was intelligent, affable and eager to learn. He received a degree in Management Information Systems (minor in Computer Science) from Oregon State University and continues to nurture a career in information technology.

Bob, who is now 33, is not one to rest on his laurels. He and his older brothers have been supporting family left behind in Cambodia since 1988, the year when they first knew that two brothers and two sisters had survived, but remain in Cambodia to this day. He has always wanted to do more for his native Cambodia, because he feels fortunate to have escaped the regime of the Khmer Rouge. For as long as he can remember, he always had the urge to give back. “What was given to me and family in America is a second chance at living. Here, opportunities are endless and dreams are realized through hard work and dedication,” he said.

Bob is giving back – in a big way. As Chairman of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon (CACO) he works closely with community leader Kilong Ung and a handful of passionate and selfless volunteers to lead programs, activities and services for Cambodian families who have made their home in Oregon. Next year, Bob is leading a humanitarian mission to Cambodia, to help rural families who are living in abject poverty. He writes about plans for the humanitarian mission, and shares photos from the 2004 project that changed his outlook on life.

Bob, right, distributed school supplies and money to needy students during a humanitarian mission to Cambodia in 2005.

Cambodia has a dark history, but beyond what history has already written, the people, the mysteries, the country captures the hearts of many Cambodians who unwillingly left their country, as well as many non Cambodians who opened their hearts and minds to Cambodia. Giving back more than just money, but the knowledge and experiences needed to rebuild a war-torn country with fragile hopes and dreams.

In 2007, a handful of CACO volunteers will be taking another journey to Cambodia. During this journey, we will be visiting an orphanage in Phnom Penh, a hospital in Siam Reap, and surprise visits along the outskirts of Cambodia where poverty is all too common. This is part of our Beyond Ordinary Borders program (a.k.a BOBism). A program designed to remind us all of our blessings here in America. It provides an opportunity for the young and old, Cambodians and non-Cambodians to experience the power of giving, and the hidden rewards both at the giving and the receiving end.

My first humanitarian experience was in 2001 and the affects from that experience is beyond what I had hoped for or even realized. There are a number of people in our community who have practiced this BOBism philosophy for many years, behind the scenes. They are the ones who inspired me and I hope their humbleness will be known so that more will be inspired to be more and to give more.

The term BOBism is inspired by previous “small” humanitarian missions, but an idea thought of by Kilong Ung. It is an excellent idea and a program that not only Cambodians, but non-Cambodians could benefit from. I know the power of inspiration and what it can do to people. It creates hope, it empowers, and it changes lives. It is also a reminder for the refugees who started their life in America with nothing, who struggled to survive with “nothing” during those unforgettable years; and now in a much better shape and position to help instill the much needed hope that is lacking in the people of Cambodia. This program is also a healing that many of refugees need. Through the act of giving, through the kindness and compassion for those less fortunate, it is one way for the survivors to heal those emotional scars and cope with an incomprehensible past.

It isn't too often that we have the opportunity to return to Cambodia due to financial, personal, or professional obligations. And so, we will take advantage of this opportunity to continue this senseless act of beauty in Cambodia.

We are collecting over-the-counter medicines to take with us that will be given out to the poor of Cambodia. Bottles of Aspirin, Tylenol, Tums and other OTC meds are welcome. I'm willing to drive to your house to collect them until our trip. In addition, we are accepting cash/check donations as well. This money will be used to purchase more medicine and if some are left, we'd like to use the remainder to purchase rice and other necessities that they may need. If you have not been to Cambodia, $1 can do wonders for a poor soul.

We have some people donating some unused medicines already. What a great start! Deadline for the medicine is February 9, 2007. Please let me know if you are embarking on a trip to Cambodia as well.  We'd like to extend this similar effort and give you an opportunity to spread the kindness and compassion that is much needed all over the world.  If you wish to contribute or help with this cause, email

Fall 2006

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