Author Archives: BabyTree Projects

Lucy Berry

So Long Lucy

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With great sadness, we bid farewell to Lucy Berry, who officially retired from the BabyTree Projects board at our annual general meeting on 12 November 2019.

Lucy’s new family and ongoing work championing animals through Animals Australia led to her making the tough call to say goodbye.

Lucy dedicated nearly 12 years to our mission of empowering children we work with in rural Cambodia through access to quality education. She helped drive our communications and fundraising efforts, and in recent years served as vice president of the charity.

She also spent the summer of 2010 in Cambodia, helping build our second stand-alone school in Big Hole Village, Kampong Thom province.

Farewell Lucy, we’ll miss you loads, and the door’s always wide open if you ever want to come back!

On a brighter note, check back over the next few weeks as we’ll be giving you more frequent updates, including preliminary details of our first comprehensive Impact Report – which we’re aiming to deliver by June 2020 – where we’ll document the outcomes of 12+ years of our work in-field. We’ll also officially welcome Steph Lawson into her new position as vice president of the BabyTree board.

Stay tuned!

We are hiring…

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BabyTree Projects is on the hunt for an incredible human being to join our team. The title is Project Coordinator but the role is much more.

We are looking for someone that believes in freedom, a sense of humour, finding beauty in the smallest things and happiness. Oh and that changing the world is possible. The full job description can be downloaded here: BTP – Staff member – position description.

Closing date for applications is 5pm, 15th July 2014.

The Sophia Saly School Built…

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In exactly 6 days (April 20th 2014) when the Cambodian school year begins, the SOPHIA SALY SCHOOL will officially open. We think think the building is beautiful but it is nothing compared to the kids that will walk through her doors.  Flowers, plants and trees still need to be planted. Signs still need to be made and go up. But we will be ready.

Thank you to every single person that helped make this dream come true. To the volunteers that came, I hope you never forget the wonder in your eyes and in your heart during the project. It was our best one yet. To people who wish to support us by fundraising or volunteering please email us at to find out how you can help and what our next projects will be. Like everything we do it will be from the heart and will be one of the craziest things you will probably do. Here are some hints: A 1,000km Tuk Tuk Rally across the breadth and soul of a nation, a thrill seeking adventure type live game, film making and cooking classes, the birth of a photography school on a beach (where else), a music festival complete with drones, and the creation of a business that will rock your world. Just to name a few.

Watch our official project video by clicking here.

Read us in The Age by clicking here.

To view some more photos of the project click here and here.


The Sophia Saly Walkathon a huge success…

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Dear Walkathon walkers and sponsors,

I would like to take the time to say thank you for your support during BTP’s Sophia Saly Walkathon 2013.

The final amount raised from this walkathon was an incredible and unbelievable $54,156! Soon, we will embark on the school build project and we will surely let you know how it goes.

This project and this journey has grown beyond anything I imagined possible. Learning to love someone from afar is not an easy task. Thank you for letting us share Sophia’s story and embracing it with such love. There’s nothing more a person can say in such an embrace, except, thank you.

If you would like to read more about our story, we were featured on pages 2-3 of The Age:

Here’s a little video I made of a ‘Once in a Lifetime Kind of Girl’. She reminds me everyday, even in the saddest of times, there is always room for smiles.

On behalf of BabyTree and the Saly Family,
Koky Saly


BabyTree founder Koky Saly in The Age.

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If you are unable to read this picture you may read the article by clicking here.



The Sophia Saly Walkathon is on… 24th Nov 2013

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Dear Friends,

Today we launch BabyTree Projects’ Sophia Saly Walkathon 2013. Please join us in this walk dedicated to the life and memory of Sophia, a truly beautiful soul, who continues to inspire us to be better than we are. We miss that girl! It will be held on Sunday 24th November at Princess Park, Carlton North. Like last year, except this time all money raised will go towards the construction of the Sophia Saly School at a beach. Yes, we found a village with a secret beach in Kep Province, Cambodia that will allow this to happen! But, we need your help to make this dream come true. Get your friends and family involved, make it a special day…Please share, spread the word and give us wings…

Details and to register here:

To see our current leader board and donate to a walker click here:

Can’t make but want to donate? Click here:


Our beloved Sophia on her first day of school. We miss you little star.

Our beloved Sophia on her first day of school. We miss you little star.

#changetheworld #beachschool #giveuswings

The Sophia Saly School Building Project

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Over the last few months you may have seen flashes and glimpses of our next project. But nothing really to hold on to. Scouting for our next location became a beach hunt that turned out to be so indescribably, inspiringly incredible that it truly was too good to be true. Too good, in fact, that we couldn’t reveal any details until we were sure that things were confirmed. Well, the long wait is over. It’s confirmed.

Interested volunteers pour your eyes over this, and if you think you’ve got what it takes to contribute positively to this project then read to the end. Because the answer you are looking for will be waiting for you there.

Operation: Sophia Saly Beach School

Mission: To build a school on a beach

When: The project will commence January 3rd 2014. We have decided to push it back after Christmas because airfares are a lot cheaper then and gives us a bit more time to fundraise.

Duration: Building a school can take up to 2mths. Volunteers may join our project anywhere between 2wks and more. We recommend 4weeks at least.

Fact File

Village name: It’s a secret. It’s Cambodia’s secret beach and we want to keep it that way. Volunteers joining us, count yourselves lucky 😉

Location: Kep province, Cambodia.

Student population: 180, with quite a bit more wanting to enter kinder next year. The school services 2-3 surrounding villages.

Teachers: 9

Toilets: Broken, disused.

Water well: Broken, disused.

Construction: We will build an additional school building, repair the existing building, build new toilets and a new water well.

Estimated project cost: $70,000

Notes: The school is near the coast and is surrounded by salt farms. Fresh water is scarce and expensive. Currently rainwater is captured in tanks, but frequently runs out during the dry season. Most of the villagers are fisherfolk, or work on the salt farms. Villagers expressed a strong interest to study English. They are very nice and love to cut down coconuts and share with us.

Brief history and surrounding area (as written in some traveling websites):

The beach is located 45min to the east of the Vietnamese border (7km away). It was once the swimming beach for the Cambodian Elite in the 1960s. The trip there might be long, but it is worth every minute. The beach, around 2km long, is clean with white sand and totally deserted except for some fishermen. Now there are 6 deck chairs and parasols and a small shop selling cold drinks for the few tourists going there. The water is shallow but clean.

Nearby island is a 20 minute boat trip from the secret beach (around US$8-10 return if part of a tour; alternatively, get a boat from the pier before 09:00 and share a $20 boat ride with others). Bungalows on the island are quaint and cheap (from US$5 a night). The island is generally pretty quiet and is a gem of coastal Cambodia. Development is slow, though there is now a massage shack directly on the beach.

Interested volunteers:

1)   MUST email to express you interest.

2)   MUST include ‘SOPHIA SALY’ in the subject line.

3)   A very brief description of why you would like to participate.

4)   Include any background experience you think is relevant.

5)   Feel free to include any questions you may have too 😉

6)   MUST include a contact phone number.

7)   If you have already emailed us your interested we will be in touch soon. But just in case we have misplaced your file please email again if you don’t hear from us within a week.

After receiving your email we will be in touch and advise you of a volunteer information night in Melbourne. If you live elsewhere in the world we will email you the full details or we may call. Please note that we are completely volunteer based and even-though we don’t charge a fee for volunteers to join us we do require our volunteers to fundraise a minimum of $2,000 USD. 100% of which will go towards the school project.

To view these details in pictures you might want to go here.

To download the Sophia Saly Project Volunteer info kit click BTP-VolunteerInfoKit-SophiaSalySchool-2014.

Sophia Saly Walkathon 2012

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Hi all,

Thank you for all your support so far!

To Register for the walkathon click here.

To view walkers leading the sponsorship tally click here.

We would like to thank our Walkathon Major Sponsors 2012. Incredible partners investing in the local community to drive change.

Carlton Football Club

Carlton Football Club



Nis-Cy Industries

Nis-Cy Industries



To download official poster click image below:


Rest in Peace – Sophia Saly

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A proper tribute page will be made for our beloved Sophia shortly…

To register for BabyTree Projects’ Sophia Saly Walkathon Click HERE

To view the current walkers leader board in sponsorships Click HERE

Beloved sister, daughter, partner and dear friend of many in the BabyTree Projects family, Sophia Saly, sadly lost her battle with cancer yesterday. Her family were with her when she slipped away in the early morning. Our thoughts and love go to the Saly family, her fiancée Silv and particularly her brother Koky Saly, BTP’s president, who has been by her side for much of the last few months.

Sophia has been an integral part of BabyTree Projects from its very beginning, and frankly it’s hard imagining it without her. In 2006 she joined two of her brothers, Koky and Toly, and other brave volunteers to build BabyTree Projects’ first school in Sophy Village. Building a school in the wet season is not an easy task. The stories we heard of the daily downpours, the ever present mud, fighting over the last potato, harrowing truck journeys and other such hardships were told in such a way to inspire us to volunteer for the next project (in the dry season).

In the months and years that followed she was instrumental in founding the charity in Victoria and shaping its values and approach. Sophia did not involve herself in the administration or management of the organisation, but threw herself into organising countless fundraising events (when we could pull her away from her duties at Carlton Football Club) and used her incredible ability to get the job done and done well. Seemingly effortlessly she drew many supporters and volunteers to BabyTree Projects. With her contagious laughter, energy, commitment and (for those unfamiliar with it) sometimes confronting sense of humour she helped build a charity that was honest,  dynamic and one that found humour in the most surprising places.

Sophia had also planned to travel to Cambodia again for the Sambour Project earlier this year, but this was thwarted by her illness. Also her absence at BTP events, particularly over the last year, made them poorer for it.

Vale and farewell Sophia Saly, in our thoughts and forever in our hearts. We love you.

Sophia Saly our beloved superstar!

Important notice…

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Due to an illness in the BabyTree family, we have had to postpone the trivia night for July and any further fundraising activities. Our projects in Cambodia will continue uninterrupted. Thank you to all for your amazing support, we’ll keep you posted.