When Toranosuke Akamine’s father, Maki, was growing up in Japan after World War II, schools had either been destroyed by the war or were in shambles.
Maki never forgot how hard he had struggled for his education, and he passed these stories along to his son. Four years ago, Maki died, leaving his son some money in shares in a construction company he had worked for.
Two years later, Toranosuke Akamine had not forgotten his father’s wartime stories. He combined some of this money with his small earnings as a bus driver in Tokyo and donated it to build a school in rural Angkor Chey district, Kampot province, through Japan Relief for Cambodia and American Assistance for Cambodia—NGOs headed by Cambodia Daily publisher Bernard Krisher.
On Saturday Akamine traveled to Angkor Chey and opened the Maki school with his wife, Kozue, and his two daughters.
The school, consisting of four classrooms, was built with Akamine’s $12,000 donation with matching funds from the World Bank.
Akamine said he didn’t complete his own education because of financial problems. He started working at a gas station when he was 15. At 18, he started driving trucks and became a bus driver.
The school has 136 students, from the first through fourth grades. Construction was completed about three months ago.
School director Ing Ouch said the previous school building was built out of wood and would shake in windy weather. People feared it would collapse, but there was no money to maintain the building. Many villagers sent their children to other schools because of the building’s shakiness.
“Since we got the building from our donor, we are very happy,” Ing Ouch said.
Akamine said Angkor Chey reminded him of what his father told him about Japan decades ago. He said he wanted his daughters to come to the village to see what Cambodia’s school system is like compared to Japan’s.