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About us

Read below to follow our journey over the past 13 years... and click here to see our CRST timeline

Founded in 2011 by the Palti family from Melbourne, Australia, the Cambodia Rural Students Trust (CRST) is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) registered with the Cambodian Interior Ministry.


Our NGO sponsors our students’ education, health and dental care, life-skill courses and monthly living allowances. Being sponsored to study also means being part of the NGO family, a support system and hands-on learning experience in itself. To read more about this, click here

Our students are mentored daily in leading and managing the NGO and our Social Enterprise Projects.


We're sure you've heard the term 'turning lemons into lemonade'....


Well, that was the case in 2009 when Steph decided to join her high school's project to volunteer to build houses in rural Cambodia. For personal reasons she submitted her application past the deadline and her school principal, determined that the lesson for Steph was, that if you fail to submit your paper work on time in life, you'll miss out... While we agreed, we also thought otherwise - when a 14 year-old wants to give of her self and her time to volunteer in an impoverished country she's never heard of, to us the lesson was one of unconditional open-hearted giving......


So we thought we would turn the volunteering in Cambodia into a family mission - and in the internet age, that took very little time. Two months later, 6 of us left Melbourne Australia and arrived in Siem Reap Cambodia to spend two weeks volunteering at a rural school and orphanage - two weeks that changed our lives.....

We travelled back to Cambodia several times over the next two years, volunteering and supporting various projects and NGOs. While some of the organisations we assisted were run by well organised, responsible and accountable people, others appeared to be a front to enrich the NGO's directors at the expense of the kids.

So in 2011 we decided to set-up out own NGO - the Cambodia Rural School Trust (CRST). This enabled us to provide the most assistance possible to the most needy, as well as be fully accountable and transparent with where our funds are going.

Today our projects include sponsoring students in High School and University, daily volunteering activities, community service programs, and a sewing workshop to name just a few... In mid 2018 we changed the name of CRST to represent the students, and we are now Cambodia Rural Students Trust.


We are excited to operate and manage multiple Social Enterprise projects including Project Y Frozen Yogurt (2015), Project G Empowering Girls (2018), Project R Plastic Education program (2019), Project B Bicycles for Education (2019), Project W WASH for Education (2021), Project L Light for Education (2022) as well as Project V which is the ultimate Volunteer Experience! To find out more about our Projects click here.

In 2022 we moved into our new home - the CRST Campus. The Campus is a 'hub' for all CRST students to study, learn and work from. The Campus includes 3 multi purpose classrooms, library, leadership and meeting room, administration office, sewing workroom, dining area and full kitchen.

Cambodia Rural Students Foundation is an Australian Government registered Tax Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). To find out more about the foundation visit out website -


We are also a The Cambodia Rural Students Foundation Inc is a also a US Government registered public charity under IRS code 501(c)(c3)

Our financial books are audited on a pro-bono (free) basis, by an external accounting firm, confirming that 100% of our donations and funds are used for education, mentoring and community projects.


CRST is managed on the ground in Cambodia by our senior students who are mentored by our founders


We have no overheads. 100% of all donations are used for education and community projects thanks to a generous corporate sponsor


Our students attend the best private high school and university in Siem Reap and in return, contribute back to society


Our NGO sponsors our students; education, health and dental care, life skill courses and monthly living allowance

We teach our students that education is the key to them breaking their poverty cycle - through education they will improve their lives, as well as help their families, community and country

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

- Nelson Mandela

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