The start of a new chapter in 2013: Champey Academy of Arts ( CAA)
January 2013 marks the start of a new chapter in our efforts to bring the joys, discipline and pride of culture of traditional Cambodian arts and dance to underprivileged children. Expanding upon our previous project of Summer Arts Camp , several of the teachers and staff formerly with our old Apsara program are continuing to work with us on our new project the Champey Academy of Arts ( CAA). CAA started dance classes at our new location this month in Phnom Penh. Champey is the Cambodia name for the tropical plumeria flower. Our new location is centrally located and is just a short walk of one block to the Royal Palace, the National Museum and Royal University of Fine Arts.
Our inaugural class includes a group of approximately 20 young girls age 9 to 16 from a shelter for abused and formerly trafficked children in Phnom Penh. They are attending classes twice a week. We are receiving a strong expression of interest from other groups who serve disadvantaged children and we are looking forward to building a robust and diverse year round roster of activities for our students as our funding permits.
Activities which our program hopes to include, is to offer year round enrichment programs in traditional Cambodian dance, music instruction on traditional Cambodian musical instruments and instruction in a variety of Khmer arts and in Khmer culture and history for children who might otherwise grow up with little or no knowledge of their nation’s rich cultural history.
We are looking forward to bringing you more updates as our new program unfolds.
Update on Summer Arts Camp 2012 and planning for 2013
Summer Arts Camp took an unexpected turn in 2012 as unusual conditions converged. Reports of an unspecified serious illness sickening children in Cambodia prompted us to place our usual gathering of dozens of children for Summer Camp from across the city on hold. Instead we organized other activities for groups of children and brought dance and arts activities to disadvantaged children, such as weekend dance lessons for the children on site at the Phnom Penh Municipal Orphanage.
Our history continues
For the past 14 years we have sponsored youth arts programs to encourage pride of culture through knowledge of traditional Cambodian drawing, dance and music and our Summer Arts Camp has been a part of this effort for the past several years.
Arts for youth programs will continue
Yes, it has been a challenging summer. And now, due to a variety of other factors beyond our control, including the city’s plan to build a drainage canal through our former school site as part of an ongoing flood control construction project, we are starting a new school on December 1,2012 , in a new location in central Phnom Penh.
Our new school will be staffed by faculty and graduates of our former program. Now accomplished dancers, our newly graduated students from our original program will bring the joy and discipline of traditional Cambodian dance to disadvantaged children in our new arts for youth programs and also serve as great peer mentors to new students.
We are grateful for your continued support of our efforts as we open our new school and begin plans to continue our Summer Arts Camp program .
Now as we approach the time when Summer Arts Camp should be starting, we have run into some unexpected challenges and concerns. Over the past several months there have been intermittent news reports about an unspecified illness that has sickened dozens of children and which has a high mortality rate. Please see the excerpts from the articles below.
As a result of this, parents and others are significantly reducing voluntary public activities for children until more is known. Parents in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program and other custodians have voiced concerns about public gatherings. Consequently, for the time being, we have suspended our Summer Arts Program in its traditional form. Instead we will work to create small outings and other activities for these children and where feasible, bring dance and art activities to the children such as weekend dance lessons for the children at the Municipal Orphanage.
We are grateful for your continued support of our efforts as we work through this challenging time.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Wall Street Journal, K. Barta, July 27, 2012--"Cambodian and international health officials are investigating an unexplained disease that has killed more than 60 children since early April"...The article goes on to describe the illness as an " unknown respiratory disease involving neurological symptoms".
CNN, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012 -- Health officials continued on Monday to investigate the causes behind the mysterious deaths of 64 children in Cambodia after saying they had made an important discovery over the weekend......
The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia tested samples taken from 24 patients and found 15 had tested positive for Enterovirus Type 71 - a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease that can also cause severe neurological complications, mainly in children.
The World Health Organization also noted that a " significant proportion of the sanples" had tested positive for EV71, but it cautioned that the outbreak had not been fully solved and more analysis was needed......
Changing young lives !
One of the goals of Kasumisou Foundation is to bring positive change to young lives. We do this in a variety of ways: education, social support and exposure to the rich artistic heritage of Cambodia. The Summer Arts Camp is one way that we help disadvantaged children to see the world from a different view.
Our annual Summer Arts Camp was originally conceived as just a fun summer activity to benefit disadvantaged children from the municipal orphanage and an AIDS hospice that is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. However, for some participants, it has proven to be more than just a way to keep busy during the annual summer holiday from school. Instead, it has provided not only an exciting introduction into the world of traditional dance and music, but it has also provided an opportunity to break free from the motonony of institutional life. It offers an opportunity for students to challenge themselves daily as they master the physical skills and intense concentration required by Cambodian traditional dance.
Following the conclusion of our Summer Arts Camp 2011 in late September of last year, three boys from the municipal orphanage requested permission to continue to attend daily classes at the Apsara Arts school.
In order to do so, these three boys, sharing two borrowed bicycles, rode more than 5 km ( about 2 miles) each way to attend the classes each day, 6 days per week. Now as we prepare for the start of Summer Arts Camp 2012, these boys continue to attend daily classes at the Apsara Arts Association and their skill levels have improved to such a degree that the boys are often invited to take part in the weekly public performances given by the students at the Apsara Arts school.
This is a great example that shows how a small investment in a young person can bloom and perhaps transform a life. As we approach preparation and planning for the Summer Arts Camp 2012, we hope that you will continue to support our efforts to enrich the lives of these and other children.
Thank you again for your generous support.
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
On February 20, 2012, I was able to visit the Kasumisou Foundation's project for Apsara Arts Program where youth and orphans, whether poor or rich, can learn traditional Cambodian dance, drawing, and music while not in school and during summers (instead of being on the streets).
There I was able to meet Sithen, the local Kasumisou foundation staff for this project. He welcomed me and sat me down to discuss his background, how he came to Kasumisou, and its current support for the Apsara Arts Program. His background was in accounting and management and had applied for the position, and now he has become an advocate of the efforts.
Additionally, I met the Apsara Arts Program director's wife who told me that before Kasumisou, the program ran in a small house. Kasumisou donated the training center where now many youth can learn traditional Cambodian arts and the culture can be passed down for generations to come. What kept her going? It was because it was preserving the culture, and although she sometimes felt discouraged when kids did not show up.. in the end "she kept going to preserve the culture for future generations". She was very happy and very grateful. I also learned that she was a former dancer for the Royal Palace back in her performing days - you can still see the grace and pride in her when she shares with visitors he meaning of the dance movements.
Every movement had a meaning - each signifying something in nature. The ages of the children (both boys and girls) ranged from age 3 to 20. 9 children were orphaned and were able to live at the center, and the most talented went on to become teaching assistants - a way to make a living and to break their cycles of poverty. Earlier in the day, I met 3 children that had attended the Apsara Arts Summer Program and benefitted from this project. They shared with me the song and dance they learned, and how they loved going.
The laughs of the kids were contagious (all had on traditional uniforms), and their focus was admirable. See HERE for a short clip of the training. Several of the youth who were part of the Kasumisou foundation support were present at the time (3 to be exact).
The funding is based on donor-support and highly dependent on it. Only 1 person managed this funding locally (Sithen), discussed increases or decreases with the Apsara director and staff, and provided accounting for the 2 main founders that visit every few months. Everyone were extremely welcoming to me, eager to share their experience with Kasumisou, and answer any questions I had. The common sentiment throughout the day was that all were so grateful for Kasumisou.
In the end, I was even was able to participate. I was dragged on stage even though I repeatedly oh-kooned (thank-you'd ) and declined, but to no avail.. up on stage I went and was guided with clear English 1,2,3’s throughout the entire dance (you can see me in one of the photos in the back with a green sweater)…
For more details and pictures about my visit please visit: JacquelineInTheField
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