Project Enlighten, Board of Directors
Asad Rahman, Co-founder and International Manager
Asad has spent over twenty-five years involved in many facets of Wildland Fire Management. His passion is education, facilitative learning and Fire-line Leadership Instruction. Shortly after high school he embarked upon his first overseas adventure, fell in love with International travel and has become a student of global knowledge and values. Through the years he has balanced his two great loves through seasonal changes: Wildland Fire Management during dry season in the States and International travel in the winter months. In 2004 Asad met and fell in love with Olivia, another Wildland Firefighter and worldly traveler. Asad had just returned from a life-changing trip to Southeast Asia and with great energy and passion shared his travel stories and photographs. It was after their first trip together to Southeast Asia in 2005 that they decided to create Project Enlighten to promote education opportunities for underprivileged youth across the globe. Today Asad is the International Manager of Project Enlighten, he organizes and facilitates the many complexities of the organization and its' programs.
Read Asad's inspirational story and learn how a chance encounter with a young landmine survivor changed his whole world.
Olivia (Lorge) Rahman, Co-founder and Assistant International Manager
Olivia became involved in humanitarianism at a young age; One of her first experiences in volunteerism was with the local Special Olympics in which she assisted special needs and disabled athletes who were competing for gold! The experience was so moving and amazing, that she felt compelled to be involved in community service. In 1995 her family survived a devastating flood; their community, home and personal belongings were damaged by destructive floodwaters. The face of humanity shined light on community service and a special group of volunteers, AmeriCorps, helped Olivia, her family and neighborhood in the aftermath. Inspired by those volunteers and with the persistence of her Mother, she applied for the AmeriCorps program, The National Civilian Community Corps (A*NCCC); she interviewed and accepted a position later that year. It was during her voluntary two-year commitment to that AmeriCorps program in which Olivia became involved in wildland firefighting. She returned to wildland firefighting in 2001 after spending some time in college and in 2004 she met her future husband, Asad Rahman. They discovered they shared a common ethos, that all human kind shall have the right to a life of respect and dignity; this is ultimately what brought Asad and Olivia together. Today, Olivia has a successful career as a Wildland Firefighter and Fire Prevention Officer. She balances her career with her volunteerism with Project Enlighten, where she takes on varying roles within the organization.
Matt Keyes and Riva Duncan
Matt is a forester and Riva is a wildland firefighter in the USA. Riva grew up in Indiana and is a graduate of Purdue University. Matt grew up in Massachusetts and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts. Matt's parents, both teachers, instilled a love of travel and other cultures in Matt, and he passed that on to Riva. Matt and Riva met Asad Rahman and Olivia Lorge in 2006 and were immediately moved by their stories of their experiences in Cambodia and their dream for Project Enlighten. Matt and Riva had been searching for a way to improve the lives of others and feel they were brought to Olivia and Asad for a reason. They believe strongly in education as the key to empower individuals to improve their own lives and to promote peace. Riva and Matt are to be a part of Project Enlighten, and are committed to helping Asad and Olivia make their dream a reality.
Mike Carroll is a trainer/consultant with Mission-Centered Solutions, Inc. where he has spent the past six years working with organizations and their leaders to increase efficiency and effectiveness operating in high-risk environments. Having settled in Colorado in 1989, Mike is a native of Minnesota. One of four children raised in a loving family, Mike’s parents instilled in him a compassion for others, a love of the outdoors and the wonder of discovery. Pursuing the desire to both serve others and challenge himself, Mike joined the military following high school where he spent eight years on assignments both here and abroad. Whether working a commercial fishing boat in Alaska or climbing in South America or the Cascades, Mike’s love of travel and adventure have taken him far and wide. His journeys have given him a great appreciation of the similarities of all people, the unique challenges that some of them face, as well as the power of friendship. Mike, having worked with Asad several times over the past four years while supporting leadership development within the U.S. Forest Service, was honored when Asad asked him to join the Project Enlighten team. He embraces the opportunity to help the team realize its vision of success.
Education Coordinator, Cambodia
Jill Morse received her Bachelor of Arts degree and a teaching credential from University of California, Irvine. She has been a teacher in Palm Springs, California since 1997. Prior to that she spent 20 years in the banking industry working for Great Western Savings, Waltham Savings Bank and Bank of America.
She first became interested in Cambodia in 2003 when she and her husband traveled to Siem Reap to meet a young Khmer man who was clearing landmines for free and had adopted over a dozen children who were victims of the wars that had ravaged Cambodia for nearly 3 decades. She helped establish the Landmine Relief Fund, an American 501c3 to help support the children and the de-mining work.
She became involved with Project Enlighten at its outset and has been involved in educational programs in Cambodia for over 6 years.
She and her husband moved to Siem Reap in October of 2009. Her husband is the International Project Manager for a Khmer de-mining NGO, Cambodian Self Help De-mining. Jill manages the volunteer programs at the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center and teaches English in its school.
Assistant Education Coordinator, Cambodia
Soksabi I am Naret, and I'm proudly a Project Enlighten Scholarship graduate! I was born on August 10, 1984 in Svaychrom Village in the southeast part of Cambodia. My father is a teacher; my mother is a
corn and tobacco farmer. I am one of seven children in my family; I have 4 brothers and am one of 3 daughters. I graduated from high school in 2001 and attended a free, two-year, program at the Kompong
Cham Regional Teacher Training Center. My first year of teaching I worked at a school in a rural village, earning an annual income of $200 and then later got a monthly salary of $30. It was hard to live on a small salary and my dream was to attend university, so I moved to Siem Reap Province to find a job where I could earn more money and save to attend university. In 2005 I began my studies at Build Bright University (BBU) but had only saved enough to attend for two years. I
dropped out of BBU in 2007 but learned about scholarships offered by
Project Enlighten and applied. I was one of three students, out of
many, who were awarded a scholarship; this enabled me to return to my
studies at University and to return to teaching at the government
schools. I enjoy helping with education and teaching. In exchange for
my scholarship, I volunteered many hours helping The Bakong Micro
finance Program, Bakong Technical College and also spent time helping
young children in my community return to elementary school. July 2010,
I graduated from Build Bright University with a Bachelors Degree in
Accounting and Finance. I successfully fulfilled my commitment to
Project Enlighten but wanted to continue to volunteer my service to
their non-profit organization and pursue a Master's Degree. I earned
the opportunity to spend some time in the U.S.A. and improve my
English reading, writing and speaking skills. I continued to attend
Project Enlighten Scholarship meetings and helped interview new
prospective scholarship students on behalf of the organization. I
earned the opportunity to become a Project Enlighten Team member and
have been selected to assist the Education Coordinator. Project
Enlighten Scholarship recipients are required to do community service,
or volunteerism, in exchange for their education. My role as the new
Assistant Education Coordinator, I help coordinate the students
volunteerism, monitor their volunteer work hours and make site visits
to check up on the students to ensure a quality experience and
"win-win" situation for all. I am honored and excited to take on this
Pongro Sustainable Community Program & School Director
I was born in Kampongcham Province in 1973, and grew up during the reign of Khmer Rouge. Many of my family members died during the Khmer Rouge Genocide. The Khmer Rouge separated my parents and oldest siblings from the rest of the family. They were sent to do forced labor in unknown locations. From early 1987 until 1989 I was a Pagoda boy at Ponly Pagoda/Anhcheum Commune, Tbongkhom district, Kampongcham Province. As a Pagoda boy, I served the Monks by collecting food from the villages for them to eat. During this time I began to learn Buddhist prayers and chants from the Monks. I was a student to the Monks before becoming one him self. The Monks took care of me by providing food to eat (Monks would eat first, then temple boys eat second).
1989-1998 I proudly became a Monk in Kampongcham Province. In 2001 I worked as a Hotel Receptionist at a small hotel in Siem Reap until its close in 2004. After, I saved all I could I acquired a tuk-tuk & began working in this trade. It was during my time working as a receptionist that I met Asad Rahman. Little did I know this friendship would change my life path forever! In late 2005 Asad returned to Cambodia, we were reunited and began working together supporting education for Cambodians in Siem Reap. I was recruited by Asad to be a part of the Project Enlighten team and given the opportunity to work, translating (Khmer/English), for Project Enlighten. I have gladly helped in bridging cultural and language barriers for Project Enlighten.
During most of the year, I’m a farmer. I help tend to the family farm, working in the rice fields. I also raise pigs, a trade I’m still learning. During the “tourist season,” I operate a tuk-tuk; I proudly provide transportation to people in and around the Siem Reap area and to the Temples of Angkor Wat.
I have fulfilled my dream and have built a free education in my village, Pongro. Emphasis is on Khmer, Buddhism, Morals & Value, English and computer skills to people three years of age and older. I feel education is the best way to accomplish these dreams. I also have Tuk-tuk for Peace which helps support my school: http://tuktukforpeace.blogspot.com
Education Coordinator, Burma
Burmese Cultural Liaison
John Glenn is a forcibly displaced Burmese Refugee and recently settled in the United States under the UNHRC resettlement program. He began his involvement in political activities in 1988 and became a member of All Burma Federation of Students’ Union, also known as ABFSU. In 1991, Mr. Glenn distributed pamphlets demanding calls for the release of students from prisons and border areas. Because of these activities, Mr. Glenn was arrested and imprisoned for six years with hard labor. He spent two years in prison and was released in April 1993. He then assisted colleagues in compiling “The History of Students’ Movement 1903-1991." When the book was printed as a draft, the military intelligence community harassed him and sought him for another arrest. Mr. Glenn eluded his tormentors by keeping a low profile and by hiding, finally fleeing to Thai-Burma border in July 2004. Mr. Glenn quickly began working at the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), also known as AAPP in Thailand, as an Officer-In-charge from 2004 to September 2006.
On September 22, 2006, as directed by the United Nations Refugee Agency resettlement program, he entered the Nupo refugee camp near Mae Sot, Thailand. After a few months in camp Mr. Glenn founded the English Speaking Course (ESC). ESC was created so Refugees can improve their future and support Democracy movements in Burma through better education.
In January 2009, Mr. Glenn was granted resettlement in the United States in Houston, TX. He continues to contribute his time and energy as a Coordinator for the Nupo refugee camp school with the goals of obtaining regular funding, providing English-speaking teachers, and developing policy management. He also sets management policy for projects including the construction of a new school, maintenance of a hydro-plant to provide electricity for the school, and developing capacity building and training for students who publish a newsletter every month. He has continued his service to the Burmese community by forming the Refugee Community Empowerment Association (RCEA) that helps other forcibly displaced Burmese Refugees with the resettlement process.
Education Program Laos Ban Navangtai School Project Manager
Laos Cultural Liaison
Phouva Vorapanya was born on June 1, 1974 in the rural village of Ban (Village) Navangtai, a large farming community in the Navang District of Khammouane Province in central Laos. He spent his childhood farming with his family and attended the primary and secondary schools in Ban Navangtai. In 1985, Phouva left Laos with his aunt and cousin for a refugee camp in Thailand. They spent almost four years in the camp until they were transferred to the Philippines in late 1988. Sponsored by an uncle, Phouva, his aunt, and cousin arrived in the United States on March 31st, 1989, settling in San Diego, CA.
Phouva attended Hoover High School and graduated on June 16, 1993. Shortly after, he went to work for the California Conservation Corps (CCC) for one year while attending Grossmont College. After one semester he then transferred to the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. In 1995, Phouva was accepted to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, majoring in Forestry and with a minor in Political Science. During summers he worked for the California State Parks. In May of 2003 he proudly graduated from Humboldt State University, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry.
After graduation, Phouva moved back to San Diego where he continued to work for the California State Parks. In May of 2005, he was hired by the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service as a wildland firefighter.
Phouva met Asad and Olivia Rahman during his Wildland firefighter training. Because of their dedication to helping people around the world, they helped inspire him to execute his dream of rebuilding schools in his village, Ban Navangtai, Laos. On December 14, 2008, Asad and Olivia visited his village, staying with Phouva's family. Asad and Olivia assessed the needs of Phouva's primary school as well as the needs of the students and teachers.
Phouva is working with Project Enlighten to rebuild the schools of his village; his hope is to extend this program to other surrounding villages. He wants all students, not just as those in his village, to have opportunities to attend enhanced schools with more access to resources. He also hopes to inspire and enable students to further their education beyond their primary, middle, and high school years. Phouva would like to thank Asad and Olivia for all their hard work in reaching out to international communities and for their inspiration in helping him pursue this dream.
Ban Navangtai School Project, Laos, Assistant Manager
Audra was born in Eureka, California. She has spent several years in the Telematics/Technology industry selling Business to Business solutions to fleet managers for tracking their vehicles and assets. She graduated from San Diego State University with Honors in 2007 with a B.S. in Finance. Her real passion lies with serving the local and international communities. Currently she is a volunteer soccer coach for the 7-9 age groups at one of the YMCA branches in San Diego County. She has been a coach for 2 ½ years. She loves spending time with the players during drill practices and soccer games by acting as a mentor and providing guidance. One of her key roles is to assist in the development of the players and their skill sets, social skills, and building confidence within each one of them as to help them become prepared for when they enter into higher grade levels, college, and beyond.
Audra also assists Phouva and the Project Enlighten Team with the Ban Navangtai New School Project in Laos. She has visited Ban Navangtai village twice and fell in love with the villagers and school children. Her hope is to help provide a better education and future for the younger generations. She has invested much of her time working with our organization on the reconstruction of the local primary school; she assists Phouva with the Communications aspect including correspondence with project personnel in Laos, progress write-ups, fundraising activities, and including ideas on how to improve education and as a result creating more sustainable economic conditions for the village.
Audra has a successful career in Technology and aspires to continue her community service efforts both here at home and overseas.
2011 brings a new era to our organization! Project Enlighten officially welcomes aboard a longtime supporter and fundraising advocate, Wendy Ling. Wendy started out in Taiwan and ended up living in various locations across the globe and across the United States. She had the fortunate opportunity to study in five different countries with a focus in the areas of German, ESL/EFL, and Education.
While studying and working as a teacher in Japan in 2006, she had the chance to organize a mini school-supply drive and hand-deliver the goods to Aki Ra and the Landmine Survivors of Aki Ra's Cambodia Landmine Museum - all through the connection of a dear friend from London who regularly volunteered and supported them. Deeply moved by that singular visit to Cambodia, it was the beginning of her love affair with the country, their beautiful people, and their rich culture.
Seeking ways to help out the Landmine Survivors through educational support, she became connected to the inspiring and amazing Asad and Olivia as they created the Cambodia Landmine Kids College Fund and eventually their all-encompassing humanitarian organization, Project Enlighten.
Since then, she has found purpose and great happiness in finding ways in which she can join in and assist in their areas of needs. One particular area is in educational empowerment, in which a transformation of individuals and a preservation of self and culture can take place. Wendy is excited and grateful for all the opportunities that Project Enlighten offers to involve her to help support and empower the people of Cambodia and Southeast Asia through educational opportunities.
Chann was born and spent his early years growing up in Cambodia. He is one of the fortunate survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s Genocide in the Killing Fields. He attended Cambodian School of Nursing in Phnom Penh from 1980-1984. Chann struggled for sometime as a refugee, spending nearly 4 years (Aug 1984-Apr 1988) in various refugee camps along Thai-Cambodian borders and 8 months in Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Bataan, Philippines before he immigrated to Saint Paul, Minnesota on December 7, 1988. It was alone that he came to the United States, no family and no friends. With only hope and a great spirit to survive, Chann Noun has become an accomplished family man, professional and community member. He married a Cambodian orphan and emigrant of the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields and is raising a daughter with her. He is a graduate from University of Minnesota, holding a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and accounting. His compassion extends beyond an everyday existence in life. He has been volunteering for both non-profit and for-profit companies in various industries within the accounting field. Chann is employed as a Lead Accountant for Exchange of Portland, a maritime related corporation. He holds a volunteer position as treasurer of Cambodian-American Community of Oregon and is an advisory board member for Asian Family Center. He is passionately involved with various humanitarian projects in Cambodia and his local community.
Mark Smith is a partner in Mission-Centered Solutions, Inc., a company that develops leaders for organizations working in high-risk, high-consequence environments. He is also involved in the 9 Ether Clothing Company, LLC, whose clothing line is dedicated to helping people achieve the 9 levels of superior consciousness.
Mark’s parents introduced the core values of gratitude, duty, honor, love, courage and hope as the foundation for his worldview. During his 22-year military career, he struggled and strived to embody these values on operations throughout the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and the Balkans. He is well seasoned in the best and the worst of the human experience, and is thoroughly convinced that even the humblest positive action can break down a wall of fear and hopelessness.
Mark and his family have a home in Northeast Thailand and he belongs to the Erawan (Thailand) Chapter of the Special Forces Association. He also has family in Laos and Cambodia. In addition to Project Enlighten, Mark also works to support the Free Burma Rangers, who alleviate the suffering and empower ethnic peoples persecuted by the Myanmar government.
Mark’s vision is that his family’s work has enriched their lives, the lives of those they serve, and has created a legacy of successful chain reactions with far reaching positive effects beyond their time on earth.
Mark is married, has two daughters, two beautiful granddaughters and lives in Denver, Colorado.
Bill Morse graduated from Kemper Military College in 1968 and Texas Christian University in 1970 with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and majors in education, history and economics. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army, Military Police Corps and served on active duty in 1971. For a number of years, Bill taught high school in Augusta, Georgia, before he left the teaching profession and entered business.
Bill Morse’s career has been primarily involved with the evolution and growth of small manufacturing companies. Each of his sales positions involved finding and establishing stocking distributors, as well as hiring and managing a group of manufacturer’s representatives and/or direct salespersons. His responsibilities included the development of new products; the integration of products from acquired companies, a comprehensive marketing program, the hiring and training of both a direct field sales force and a network of manufacturer’s reps to handle specific markets, as well as profit and loss responsibilities. In addition to this Bill Morse has held positions as president and CEO of several companies since and now works as a consultant.
In 2003 Bill was introduced, through a friend, to Aki Ra, an ex-Khmer Rouge soldier taking on the daunting task of clearing all the landmines left in Cambodia. He traveled to Siem Reap to meet Aki Ra and on his return began the Landmine Relief Fund (www.landmine-relief-fund.com) to support the work of the Cambodian Landmine Museum and its Managing Director, Mr. Aki Ra. To date he has cleared in excess of 60,000 active landmines and IEDs while adopting 25 maimed, needy and orphaned children.
The Landmine Relief Fund charter is to support the work of the Cambodian Landmine Museum NGO. The LMRF became a 501c3 charity in 2004. All the funds received are forwarded to the Cambodian Landmine Museum. With the establishment of the ‘new’ museum in April of 2007 we have moved our work under the umbrella of the Museum Operations and now support the ongoing work of Cambodian Self Help Demining, the Cambodia Landmine Museum and other projects sponsored by Aki Ra.