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America—the strong force of the West—introduced hope and freedom to Southeast Asia. In 1970, the Khmer Republic, which overthrew the absolutist government that was led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, wholeheartedly believed in the United States and its message. A life of destitution, conformity, and autocracy—from government to society—made Timothy Chhim hunger for change. America’s message resonated with him; it stoked him. Freedom became his burning desire. Thus, he joined the Republic force as a police officer, to help drive out the bad elements from Cambodia: absolutism, oppression, and communism. Tragically, the United States could not see it through, as the communist forces proved more organized, focused, and powerful. It ended its involvement with Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and retreated in humiliation on April 15, 1973. When the last American staff members evacuated the United States Embassy in Cambodia, Timothy continued trying to defend his war-torn country against the communist force backed by Vietnam and China. Disheartened, he wondered whether hope and freedom also had abandoned him for good.

On April 17, 1975, the Cambodian communists known as the Khmer Rouge emerged as victors of the five-year Cambodian civil war. They made their way to Tuol Kok, where the twenty-year-old Timothy Chhim was living and taking refuge with his Uncle Say’s family. They told the residents to pack up their belongings, to bring only what they needed and leave the city right away. Some people who had lived there all their lives refused to leave. The communist cadres shot a few people dead to show they meant business.

Timothy, wearing shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops, trudged with his Uncle’s family along the highway, hauling their belongings with the help of bicycles and motorcycles. Like the rest of the population they drifted many days with little food or clean water, in fear and poor health, until the Khmer Rouge took census and background information from them. Not knowing the true intention of the communists, most people, including Tim, honestly told them what they had done under the Khmer Republic regime. Tim was a student and a police officer. Some people told the truth while other boosted their rank. With this information, the communists divided people up based on their background information. They gathered about seventy students and soldiers of the Khmer Republic at a time, telling them they would be returned to Phnom Penh to help rebuild the country. The news gave them pride and jubilation.

Three people, a young man, a middle-aged woman, and elderly man, had given Timothy clues that his group was being taken to Ghost Mountain to be killed. However, he did not believe them—not until it was almost too late. Sitting outside in a drizzling rain with over seventy other people in front of an abandoned pagoda to listen to the communist cadres making their speeches, his hopes, dreams, and desire to live kicked him so hard that he got up from the ground and jumped as high as he could over the heads of two women sitting in front of him. He spun his feet as if they had never touched the earth. As he headed for the forest on the east side of the abandoned pagoda, multiple rounds of gunshots echoed through the pagoda. Tim’s burning desire to stay alive grew as he heard the loud popping explosions and saw the impacts of flying bullets striking the trees and wet ground to the sides and in front of his path. He zigzagged to dodge the bullets; tripped and fell a few times. Discarding the plastic sheet he had used to cover his head, he finally reached some thick bushes, which seemed to stretch across many kilometers away.

Tim drifted to many places and was sent to death rows two more times, all the while guided by the voice of his deceased father, before he reached Preah Vihear and ultimately the Cambodian–Thai border. There, he promised he would return to rescue his fellow Khmers who remained behind.

At the border, Thai soldiers captured him and imprisoned him until a rich woman picked him out and bought him as her domestic slave. He went through many obstacles, trials and tribulations before he escaped to a refugee camp and received sponsorship to the United States of America in 1976. In New York, he found work washing dishes during the nighttime at a restaurant to put himself through school . He graduated and later on opened up his own business.

When other refugees made their way to New York, Tim made sure they had clothes, blankets, shelter, and food. He even helped found several nonprofit organizations including the World Cambodian Congress, and became a leader and organizer at Wat Samakki in Brooklyn. He tried to steer people to work hard and do good for themselves and their community. As if that were not enough, he ventured into politics, hoping he could make a difference for the people in the country he left behind. He had promised to return to help, but he faced multiple challenges in Cambodia’s corrupted society; thus, he found this other avenue to help his fellow countrymen whose lives seem to deteriorate every day.

In the 2000s, Timothy Chhim set on a path to do something different—something that had made America grand and powerful. He discovered Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich.” He started to study hard and went through a rigorous process to be a student and finally an instructor of Dr. Hill’s teachings. He formed a bond and friendship with people he met at The Napoleon Hill Foundation Leader Certification trip to Ireland and elsewhere. They kept in touch. He also formed a mastermind alliance with Khmer–American and Khmer citizens in Cambodia under a partnership called PMA Science of Success Cambodia, also known as Cambodia Science of Success. Timothy gave his students at the InterEd a taste of the teaching and principles of Dr. Napoleon Hill and they hungered for more. The classes became so popular that Tim arranged for the Napoleon Hill Foundation to bring Napoleon Hill’s Science of Success program to Cambodia to give people there a chance to find their “Definiteness of Purpose” and to unleash their full potential.

On April 7 through April 17, 2016, Tim led his fellow Napoleon Hill instructors, whom he had befriended and met in Ireland, the U.S and Thailand, in introducing Dr. Hill’s Science of Success to Cambodia. It was a great success!

After so many years of trying to find himself and finding a way to help his people in Cambodia, he finally got it right.

With the approval of the Cambodian government, Tim hopes to teach all of the principles of Napoleon Hill so that the students can in turn help other students after them. And he will teach these principles to the 85 percent of Cambodians, young and old, who live mostly in rural areas that are extremely destitute. In his hometown of Spoke Reach, most students lack school supplies and clean water.

Therefore, to help the momentum of Timothy Chhim’s successes in Cambodia and in the spirit of doing good for others and upholding a positive mental attitude, please donate toward a water tower for the people and students in Spoke Reach, Prey Khmer, Kampong Chhnang.

If you would like to donate, please contact Mr. Timothy S. Chhim at [email protected]. Or you can donate via GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/25jzyphc.

PMA Science of Success Cambodia (One of the Partners)


International Conference on “Cambodia Science of Success”


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 Children in Spoke Reach, Kampong Chhnang

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