The Coffee Shop:
more popular than ever!

The Coffee Shop opened with the objective of maximizing the self-funding of Bayon Pastry School. The competition being fierce in Siem Reap, our team thought of new tools we could use to improve the visibility of the Coffee Shop and increase the traffic. Between the new flags and arrows hung in the streets, the new signs at the back of more than 10 tuk-tuks driving around Siem Reap and the brand new wall painted in blue at the entry of our alley, it’s now impossible to miss us! Moreover, the fact that we are now listed in the French Routard guidebook and the excellent reviews left by satisfied customers on TripAdvisor have had very positive effects.
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As the traffic started to grow, we had to make sure we would professionalize our team and continue to satisfy customers. We organized a training week named “Perfect Coffee Shop”. The objective was to:
– focus on selling better and more,
– ensure the customer experience is flawless (by once again training the staff on hygiene and service),
– revise the list of products sold as well as their price.

The actions done on traffic and visibility paid out; the following months were the best ever recorded.
– $3 500 in December 2017 (vs $2 115 in 2016)
– $3 160 in January 2018 (vs $2 000 in 2017)
– $3 800 in February 2018 (vs $2 310 en 2017)
With more than 60 % increase, February is then the Coffee Shop’s best month in terms of sales.

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Maximizing sales also depends on our external partners in Siem Reap (hotels, restaurants, travel agencies…) which are also progressing yet to a lower extent. Bayon Pastry School also participated in some events held in Siem Reap (festivals, Angkor marathon village…). The biggest event of this first quarter remains the organization of a Khmer dessert buffet for 80 people, which was ordered by the travel agency Asian Trails. This event enabled us to raise $1,000.
Finally, we hope that the recent launch of the Bayon food-truck will help us raise our profile. We are still looking for the perfect seller and the perfect spot to do so. A big thank you to Sokhoeurn (Pastry Chef), Chloé (sales manager), Lucie (volunteer in charge of the coffee shop development) and the staff: Sy Chey, Sreyneang, Sreyleak, Sothyea and to the students who are always willing to help.
, 14 March 2018

Artists and athletes expected at
Bayon primary school

Ever since we set up new footballs goals at the primary school last October, it became clear that our pupils love sports! They are very keen on playing – sometimes even more than expected. Once, Augustin had called in 12 players for a football game against an external team, but 25 showed up on the big day! The result of that game was also unexpected as they scored only one goal while their opponents scored… 12! To be fair, things were not in our favour that day: in addition to the stress of the first game and the difference of training between the two teams (Next Steps FC happens to be a junior professional team!), their opponents refused to play without shoes while all our pupils were barefoot.
But this defeat did not hamper their motivation as they managed to win the two following games – and they can’t wait for the next one. This strong excitement led us to incorporate sports in their weekly timetable. We hired a Khmer professional sports teacher since the beginning of February. His job description includes doing sports with all the children (football, volleyball, running, etc) and organizing tournaments with other schools. He seems to be well-integrated at school and the children love him.
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On the same line, Lucie hired two traditional dance teachers. Both are deaf and mute. She had spotted them during the weekly show they give in Siem Reap as part of the NGO Krousar Thmey (which helps educating children with handicap). She offered them to give some lessons at the primary school, which they accepted straight away. They now give 1 hour of Apsara dance lesson every week to Grade 5 and 6 students. All volunteers who want to join can, boys and girls.
These incredible teachers are particularly expressive. They effortlessly manage to go beyond their handicap and they catch the students’ attention easily. The students enjoy this new activity; they have the feeling that they are learning how to dance with their big sisters. They are preparing together a year-end show which promises to be very moving.
Finally, Gilles – volunteer at the Bayon School for the 3rd year in a row – has started to work with Marine and our pupils at the primary school. They are doing an important artistic project with bamboo and painting. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to follow the news about this project.
Atelir Gilles1

4th intake at the pastry
school: mid-term assessment.

The pastry school students are halfway through their training year – a good time for us to take a look on how the 4th intake is doing. To that end, we interviewed the two people responsible for their education: Marie (English, Maths, IT and Business teacher) and Sokhoeurn (Pastry teacher).
Teaching to Khmer people was a first for Marie. It is not always a simple exercise but Marie enjoys it a lot. Every subject she teaches gives her the opportunity to discover a new side of the Khmer culture and she gets to know more about her students.
To teach IT, she had to start from the simplest task – like turning the computer on. Indeed, the students come very poor backgrounds and some of them had never seen a computer before. Imagine the girls’ difficulties during the maps exercise; they had trouble understanding how their village could be represented in a digital space…

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The girls however love this subject and some even start using computers during their spare time to find out about the latest football score from Battambang team or to discover new recipes. Other topic, other source of excitement; the maths class just ended, to the students’ endless pleasure!
Regarding English, their level remains basic but they are getting better week after week. They start using the past tense. While grammar remains the biggest part of the program, Marie also focuses on the Coffee Shop training – a workshop in which the students have to practice speaking to the customers while using their work vocabulary. It is also a great way to boost their self-confidence.


For Sokhoeurn, teaching politeness and good manners is also key. Her classes are divided into two main topics: pastry theory (in class) and pastry practice (in the kitchen). Sokhoeurn often tells her students, “Even if I am your teacher, I keep learning by your side and it is my best success”. Hence, her priorities are that the students acquire the proper techniques while taking a lot of pleasure learning pastry.
Sokhoeurn feels that this year, there are a lot of disparities amongst the students. She plans to set-up a prep class next year before the school year actually starts. It will help the students feel more prepared with the vocabulary and their new home. Our Pastry chef confessed that many of our students were really surprised by all the buttons in the kitchen or even by the flush of their toilets. On top of increasing their confidence, this prep training will allow them to start the year at the same level.
Overall, at this stage of the year, both Marie and Sokhoeurn feel that, despite being very different, all the students will be able to pass their exam in June.

Doctor Lebois and Bayon School: a new addiction

“As a retired doctor, I decided to give my support to Bayon School a couple of years ago with the assistance of my wife Michèle. Our love story with this school began in 2006. At that time it could only receive 30 students. What an evolution since then! It is all thanks to the energy and dynamism of the different presidents and teams based in Siem Reap!
Last year, we came to Siem Reap for our first health mission at Bayon School, but we unfortunately only stayed for 2 weeks. The outcome of this “short” stay was however positive; thanks to the daily lunch, the children were overall in good shape (we can even say some were very energetic!). Nevertheless, their teeth were in bad condition. We left Cambodia in 2017 with the project of coming back and implementing dental treatments for the children.

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When we came back in January 2018, we were very excited and moved to once again see the school and the children.
The discussions with the team in Siem Reap acted as an incentive for us to cover more than just dental issues. We first finished the medical check-ups (started in October by Laurence) before doing some hygiene training in class as well as some dental hygiene training to both children and teachers. We also controlled and replenished the stock of medicines. As we were staying longer this year, we managed to get in touch with different local organizations working on health (for example the Red Cross…) and we got to know more about those. Our western mindset had led us to believe that all would go quickly, but we then discovered the Khmer pace, which is smoother and slower. In the end, to make all our missions come to life it took us nearly 3 months… which we gladly spent here, of course!

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This experience has truly been fulfilling; it was an important immersion in the Khmer culture. We have met some great people and we have built strong relationships with the team in Siem Reap. We also felt that the children started caring about us too. Every day we were going to the primary school to cure their every scratch. For many of them, these moments were the opportunity to express themselves, to laugh and play – true moments of happiness for both the patients and the doctors! We were quite popular, if the long queue in front of the infirmary was anything to go by. Some even made up slight injuries just to get to wear a nice Band-Aid (which would disappear the next day, of course…). The happiness of the children has really moved us. What a pleasure to see them play around after lunch! Those moments are sacred because it is a time they use to escape from the reality of their tough lives back home. We also had a memorable moment when we came back from the dentist with the children… which meant accommodating 9 kids in our tuk-tuk!
We were thinking about taking a touristic break this year but we did not find the time. Besides, we must keep some excitement for next year and the years to come, as we’ve already committed to come back so as to continue following the children, training the families, conducting a vaccination campaign… and for many other things!
The final days are now upon us and we feel both nostalgic and hopeful, as we know we will be back. In the end, our best reward and our best memories will remain… the children’s smiles!”

Jean-Pierre & Michèle Lebois

“Our six incredible months”
by Lucie & Augustin, volunteers at Bayon School.

“As our Cambodian experience is about to end, we wanted to share with you our feelings about our six-month mission at Bayon School. As a freshly married young couple respectively working in marketing and finance, we decided to take a year off our busy Parisian lives! This sabbatical year had a double objective: give our energy (for free) to people who need it and take more time to build our future couple life. Six months later, we can say that this experience clearly exceeded our goals and expectations. Baudouin and Charlotte entrusted us with many projects, both at the pastry school and at the primary school. Lucie has been very involved in the daily management of the Coffee Shop, especially in the coaching of our three waitresses: Sreyleak, Sothyea and Sreyneang. She also conducted two projects:
– the sale of Kampot pepper at the Coffee Shop (sewed by primary school mothers in small Krama bags, which enabled the mothers to gain some complementary income).
– the launch of a food truck of which the objective is to sell Bayon School pastries around Siem Reap, with the idea to also use it as a communication tool for the Coffee Shop.

For his part, Augustin spent most of his time at the primary school working with the social workers to help them on various projects, such as:
– the organization of regular mind-opening activities outside school in Siem Reap for Grade 5 and 6 (visit of Krousar Thmey, an NGO providing education to deaf and blind children, visit of a social business recycling paper, field trip to support the professional football team of Siem Reap, etc.).
– the launch of sports lessons including the recruitment of a Khmer sports teacher. Lucie also helped to launch some traditional Apsara dance classes thanks to a partnership with the NGO Krousar Thmey.
– the kick-off of green organic gardens in 10 families of the primary school with the help of Agrisud NGO. The objective is to provide organic vegetables to our canteen and provide an extra income for those families.
– the creation of a Bayon School football team.

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We have been delighted to be involved in all those projects, yet getting to know local people is the most powerful thing we’ll remember from those six months. Meeting them helped us to really live with the Khmers. It helped us understanding them and going beyond a simple “doing” experience. As we were accommodated within the Pastry School, we had the chance to live the daily life of the pastry students, regularly sharing their diners and helping with their homework! This “living with people” experience also took place at the primary school (for example during the football and volleyball games) and through the family visits we did with Soki, our social worker at the primary school. The children often gave us valuable life lessons – the way they always smile despite the difficulties they face at home is simply incredible. After six months they have become heroes for us to whom life has given many chances at birth.

Last but not least, the dynamism and the good mood of all the volunteers with us at Bayon School also contributed to making this adventure a very rich experience. We are now heading back to Paris, far from the rice fields and the Angkor temples. Going home will be tough but we are leaving with amazing memories that we will keep for life. We now hand over to Marine and Claudia, and we wish them to live those six months as blissfully as we did.”

Lucie & Augustin