ABCs and Rice

Empowering the poor, through education and community support,
to break the cycle of poverty.


The Fund and Awareness Campaign- Canada 2012

Posted by Tammy D on April 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Recap, by Tammy Durand;  

It has been a hectic 2 weeks!

Siem Reap->Seoul->Toronto

and that was just day 1 :)   From there, with the help of Mom (Diane), Aunt Sue, and Uncle Ron, I have been bouncing all over Ontario.

The kind people of the Hamilton Rotary Club greeted me warmly on our first Wednesday in Canada. The reception was was so touching that i was already an emotional wreck by the I met up with the AMAZING Mindy Tweedle, of Tweedle Productions.

But this amazing woman put me right at ease with her kind smile and tremendous amounts of posetive energy. We jumped right into a (COLD) outdoor interview for 100 Huntly Street.

I spent Easter weekend up North, with friends and family, celebrating, catching up, and running around preparing for the fundraisers and presentations still ahead.

Monday... On the road again! First stop, Cambridge Ontario, where the wonderful folks at Gleaners Christian Charities packed us up with over 15000 meals of dehydrated vegetable soup mix. Shelly Stone was kind enough to give Ron, Sue and I a tour of this inspiring facility and also extended the offer to any Canadian volunteers coming our way to also fill up a suitcase or two to help support our Breakfast Club program.

Next stop, Hamilton Ontario. We had an early morning interview with CHCH's very own Nicola Jones. Mindy and I spoke about the ABCs and Rice program and put out a final invite to that evening's fundraising event "Mojitos and Munchies'.

That night was a HUGE success, over 100 in attendance, all enjoying a variety of Mojito samples and some great Asian fare, all whipped up by the staff of the Hamilton Club. A huge thank you to all who attended, the final count of donations collected that night... $1700!!!!

We left Hamilton, traveled through the night and made it to Sudbury in time to attend the Rah Rah Rotary, Sunrisers of Sudbury. What a great turn out! This fine breakfast crew made me feel right at home while I spoke about ABCs, how it began, where we are now, where we are heading and how important these programs truly are to the children we work with. The feedback was fabulous and we may even have recruited some Canadian volunteers :)

Immediately after I was fortunate enough to meet with Sudbury's own Jenny Jelen of the Northern Life. We shared some laughs and enjoyed some much needed coffee as she pieced together a story for ABCs and promoted ABCs first Gala, to be held tomorrow (article to follow).

Mom, Jenifer Durand, and I spent the rest of the day getting some final details sorted for the Gala, and it was off to bed (a real bed ahhhhhh).

This morning I met with Brad and Leanne of KICX 91.7FM for a live interview. These two are so kind, and have been so supportive of ABCs and Rice, it was really quite an honor to share our story and spend time at the KICX FM studio.

I have a fair bit to catch up on this afternoon, but this evening I will get to visit some friends and family whom I haven’t seen in years.... I can barely wait! Tomorrow is the Gala (YAY)! Then, just a few small presentations to follow in the next week. So, I’m keeping busy but missing the kids.

I'll keep you posted :)

Giving it all up for ABCs and Rice


Apr 12, 2012- 2:52 PM

By: Jenny Jelen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

Fancy dinners have been replaced by breakfast clubs, high heels with muddy feet and the corporate ladder with smiling children's faces.

Five years ago, if you'd have asked Tammy Durand to give up her hair appointments and stilettos, she would have laughed. Now, she couldn't be happier to be in T-shirts and bare feet.

Two years ago, the former Sudburian went on an adventure tourism trek that should have taken her through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

“I was off for the adventure of a lifetime,” she said — and that's certainly what she got.

Once Durand experienced the bright young faces of the Cambodian children, she didn't want to leave.

So she stayed.

Now, Durand is the founding director of ABCs and Rice. In January 2010, the school that works on a reverse tuition system was established with one bamboo hut. Now, there are seven prefab classrooms on her acre of land, where more than 180 kids aged five to 16 come to learn about English, music art and more. Instead of having to pay for their education, families are given food for sending their kids to ABCs and Rice. It fulfils the centre's mandate of empowering the poor to break the cycle of poverty.

“It's the best job in the world,” Durand said. “The kids are amazing.”

When she first decided to make a difference in the lives of people living in the Poom Sala Cosigne community, she had no idea how to go about it. She had the unpleasant task of lying to her mom Diane Renaud, telling her she wouldn't be world's away from home for much longer.

Now that Renaud has seen what her daughter does, she's quite proud of her.

“I miss her terribly, but I've never seen her so happy,” she said.

Rightfully so — every day, Durand is able to watch young minds blossom while supporting an entire community. She said every time the facility needs new supplies, building materials of even workers, local people are contacted first.

“We really try to keep everything in a circle,” she said. “Everything (we do) is supporting someone ... in the community whenever possible.”

The school recently hired a cook who happened to be the mother of a student attending the school who had underwent a particularly challenging period. The main breadwinner in the family abandoned the mother and children, taking the family's bike. With no money to pay rent on their hut and no means of leaving their space, in fear of it being taken away, they all stayed close to home.

Once Durand learned of the situation, she offered the woman a job, as well as housing for the family, on the school's property.

It's just one of the things she is doing to better the community — another project in the works is the Full Belly Farm. Durand and her team are currently in the process of creating a space to keep fish and chickens, as well as grow vegetables. Once the farm is up and running, Durand hopes the school will be fully self-sustaining.

Then she can move on to even more remote places.

“The further you go (from major cities) the worse it gets,” she said.

Eventually, perhaps near the end of her journey, Durand said she'd like to have also established a sort of “Ikea-version” of ABCs and Rice schools, where others interested in helping those less fortunate have the tools and resources to get started.

“I wanted to help, and I had no idea how,” she said. Having a formula to get others started on similar projects would only mean more well-fed, educated kids in places like Cambodia.

While she's visiting home for a month-long stay, Durand is hosting an ABCs and Rice Gala fundraiser. On April 14, the community is invited to purchase a $50 ticket for the dinner and music show which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn.

For more information, or to reserve a seat, phone Renaud at 705-566-0586.

For more information about ABCs and Rice, or to make a donation to the organization, visit

Posted by Arron Pickard

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