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Oct 24, 2017

Playing In The Wings

Waiting in the Wings Before a Concert
Waiting in the Wings Before a Concert

Dear friends and supporters of our school,

Before I begin this report I would like to thank you on behalf of us all at our school, for your most generous and vital support.

Those of you who have supported this particular project know that the children who live outside our school and come here for lessons, have quite challenging lives and greatly benefit from being able to come to our school.

Today this report will be about the lives of our students who are musicians. All of those who come for music lessons, whether Mahori or Pin Peat are very talented. They come to study with our masters, not only because of love of music, but because they are so gifted that they will almost certainly become professional musicians.

Whenever we do an official performance say for His Majesty the King, or at the National Theatre or for a special event at our school, such as when both the U.S. and British Ambassadors came to our school together with the Secretary of State for Culture. Then you will find our outreach students performing in the wings. They perform together with our residential students and they form an orchestra. If there is a dance performance or a shadow puppet performance, they will sit to the side unoticed by the audience and create beautiful music. As the dancers perform or the puppeteers make theatre, the musicians watch closely, so that their music is in exact time with the dancer's feet or the intricate story lines of the puppetry. The Roneat Ek player (Alto xylophone made out of bamboo) is the leader and on his or her shoulders lies the responsibility to set the pace and start at the right time, with everyone following in harmony. Often the Pin Peat master Sambo takes this role, but gradually in time one of his students will take over.

Musicians all over the world know the experience of perfoming in the wings, sometimes out of sight, but with a role so important that if someone were to play wrong, it would send everything in tilt. 

Some of our Mohori students are from a previous course, a partnership we did with Epic Arts, where we gave free tuition to their disabled students in traditional Cambodian music. Even after the course had finished, some were so enthusiastic they stayed on of their own accord. One is a youth who lost both arms in an accident when he worked in an ice-crushing factory. He has the most beautiful voice and has learned and is learning a large range of Mohori and Plein Ka (wedding music). Another young woman is blind in one eye and losing the sight in her other and is a wonderful Roneat player.

These our students who have come out of very difficult backgrounds, but yet come with good humour and self-discipline even when it's raining, show what is possible and help make our school a better place. We wish for them every success and we will go on teaching them until such time as they feel able to start their professional lives, solo. Thank you so much for supporting them!

Just a quick note (and that is not a pun)........for those of you who are interested in supporting our micro- project # 29610 "Saving Lives Through Providing Transport" for those of our special needs children who need urgent medical care in hospital 137km away from Kampot in Phnom Penh. We still have a few days left, if you want to help.

 Thank You!

(Photographs kind courtesy of Steve Porte: Permission was granted before taking photographs).

The Pin Peat masters son waiting for his dad!
The Pin Peat masters son waiting for his dad!


Oct 5, 2017

Transport to Hospital Saves Lives

Living a full life despite illness
Living a full life despite illness

Dear Friends,

Before I begin I would like to thank all of you who have been so generously donating to our school.

Our school stays open and running thanks to individual donors. You are amazing people and have done so much for us. Thank you.

This report is about a hidden problem that we are facing and we would like to tell you all about it.

As we care for children who have very complicated and life-threatening illnesses, we have to provide them with proper medical care. These include correct drugs, Magnetic Resonancing (MR) and Cat scans for severe epilepsy for one young girl Srey Ka* and psychologial support and MR for her older sister who was sold into slavery by their father as a little girl and severely physically and emotionally abused. She was also kicked in the head by a cow leaving her in a coma without proper medical care while living in her former village before coming to our school.

We have some children who were born with HIV and their parents died of AIDS. They did not receive retroviral treatment until coming to our school, this means that their HIV levels became border-line with AIDS. People who have HIV although they can prolong their life and live relatively normally, can sometimes suffer from complications such as specific tumours, almost unique to HIV patients.

As you all probably remember, we have our little deaf and blind boy 'Da* who was put in an orphange at three months old and there neglected and abused until he came to our school and began a new life. He receives treatment for his hearing disability from the wonderful NGO "All Ears" in Phnom Penh. Gradually his life is being re-built, but he needs constant care and assistance to help him heal and also realise his full-potential.

Then we have our children who are blind. Mostly we can do eye-tests and give assistance locally, but one of them a young girl was so severely abused by her uncle that after being hit accross the face by a bamboo cane, she lost the sight of one eye. This eye must be constantly monitored in a proper eye hospital. Eventually her eye will have to be removed and a prosthesis put in place.

We live in Kampot Province. There is no Magnetic Resonancing, Cat scan, Pet or Tac. There is no medical assistance or expertise for severe epilepsy, no proper specialists in psychology or psychotherapy. There are no specialists for the deaf and no equipment as such. The nearest eye hospital is in Takeo Province. There are not even anti-rabic injections (Rabies is a problem in Kampot). For each child who becomes severely ill, or who has a life-threatening condition which needs regular treatment, for those who are deaf or have health or sight complications, we must take them to the capital city Phnom Penh 137 km away.

We do not own our own car. We must hire a taxi and share it with other passengers and then hire a motorbike taxi in Phnom Penh. Even if we did own our own car, the cost of petrol for a total of 274 km each time we take a child to the capital for treatment, is very high. 

We are very happy to take our children to receive proper treatment and we would not consider anything less for them, however this necessity requires extra budget support and it has now become really urgent.

If you would like to help or think someone you know would like to give support, then the 5th October is the perfect time to do so. We have set up a micro-project especially to deal with this urgent requirement: You can find it on "Save Lives Through Providing Transport" Project Number 29610. It is affiliated to this - our main project.  GlobalGiving will be matching funds on the 5th October, starting from Washington DC time and lasting until 11.59pm

If you can't find our micro-project, then it's fine to help our transport project and other needs on this project page (Education/Arts Orphan, Disabled Children #16371). If you didn't make it for the 5th October, no problem, our micro-project is running until the end of October.

Thank you all for your wonderful support!

(* With thanks to the photographer Steve Porte for all his lovely photos.

*To protect their privacy the names given are not our children's full names)

Art creates happiness and is healing
Art creates happiness and is healing


Jul 26, 2017

Celebrate our 23rd Birthday and Join us!

Monkey dance
Monkey dance

In August 1994, despite civil war in Kampot Province, our school was finally completed and opened.

I will never forget opening our doors to children who had lost their parents in remote rural areas to the war. The District Chief of Chumkiri whith whom I had been working, had just been killed by the Khmer Rouge and the ground shook from missiles being fired nearby. Those children who were disabled, had lost their legs to anti-personnel mines or to Polio.

Today those children have grown up and have their own children. Some have become professional musicans, others economists, resort managers, some have jobs in government ministries and some are farmers. Following on from them, came other children who also grew up and moved on.

Today we have twenty-one children resident at our school, including children who are orphaned and children who are blind. We also have around one hundred children from local villages studying traditional music at our school as well.

Where once we taught only Pin Peat music with the last great Pin Peat music master left alive after the genocide we now teach Pin Peat and Mohori music, classical Cambodian ballet, folk dance, ancient Yike theatre and dance and we have revived the art of traditional shadow puppet theatre...once completely lost to Kampot Province. Our resident children have scholastic lessons and are supported through university if needed or to a vocation. We have also developed programs for Peace and inter-relgious and inter-cultural harmony with students from Qatar, Finland and Vietnam. This program also includes helping Cambodian people come to terms with their past and finding truth and healing after the Khmer Rouge genocide.

This August we celebrate our 23rd Birthday. We are so happy at this event and we would like to invite you to join us. If you live in Cambodia, you are welcome to our school to our Gala Event on Saturday 5th August from 3pm. You can participate in workshops where our students and staff will teach you the art of making shadow puppets, how to perform them, how to play a Pin Peat instrument and essential dance moves. We will have videos of our school and explanations on the origin and history of our school and traditional Cambodian arts. Watch out on our Facebook page for updates.

If you can't make it to our school, you are welcome to join us by participating in the GlobalGiving International Youth Week. From 7th August to 12 August 2017, starting at 9am Washington DC time and ending 11.59.59pm. GlobalGiving will match donations 100%. What a wonderful way for us to celebrate our birthday.

Thank you all for your wonderful support and good-will towards our school.

Repairing Pin Peat instrument
Repairing Pin Peat instrument
Our little blind & deaf boy getting ready for bath
Our little blind & deaf boy getting ready for bath


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