Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia

by Khmer Cultural Development Institute
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Free Arts Training for 150 Children in Cambodia
Chapey Dong Veng Lesson with KCDI blind students
Chapey Dong Veng Lesson with KCDI blind students

Title:  What Our Blind Students Have Been up to !

Dear Kind Donors, I hope that you are all well and safe? On behalf of our school, I wish for you and your families good-health and for the World, Healing!
Thank You all for so much for so kindly and generously continuing to support our School despite the pandemic. We are immensely Grateful!
In January of 2021, we began our Chapey Dong Veng Program for our Blind Students resident at our school. Their Teacher is himself blind and is a well-known Master of the Chapey Instrument in Kampot Province. 
The Chapey Dong Veng is a Traditional Cambodian Instrument, which looks similar to (but is unrelated) a guitar.  The Chapey Player learns to play chords with a special rhythm and harmony sequence as a base…then they learn to sing over that…but it isn’t  just singing, it is in fact telling a story. Often Chapey players observe what is going on in their communities or in their country and sing humorous but quite pointed stories about the things that they perceive are unjust, funny, or the idiosyncrasies of their fellow human beings . It’s quite an art to first learn how to play the chord sequences and rhythms and then add the story. People love to listen to Chapey players (although there aren’t many left in Cambodia and most are elderly) because they can tell wonderful,relevant stories.
The Chapey instrument is particularly suited to blind people, because it is for a Solo Musician and there are no limits imposed.
Our students began learning with their Master in January and have started to make good progress…and get on very well with their Teacher. Learning this new instrument, is not just great fun and helps boost confidence, it is also a form of vocational training, adding to their skills as Mohori and Yike Musicians and Physiotherapists. Interestingly and fortunately, those students who have done best in Mohori and Yike have done less well in physiotherapy and one student who did less well in both these areas, is excelling in the Chapey, so that there is something for everyone!
With Best Wishes from Everyone at the Kampot Traditional Music School (KCDI)
Report by Catherine Louise Geach : (Founder)
Location: Kampot Town, Cambodia
Photo: Some of KCDI Students having their Chapey Lesson: 
(Photo Taken with permission of our students and teacher/KCDI.)


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Physiotherapy training
Physiotherapy training

Dear Kind Donors,

Thank you so much for your wonderful support through these difficult times.

Actually our school has stayed open and running, because we take care of very vulnerable children full-time, who have nowhere else safe to go. We take every safety precaution and we do not have visitors to our school in order to prevent Covid-19 infections from entering.

Our blind students who are mostly adolescents and youths, do have parents, although in their remote villages they have no access to education or rehabilitation. Some have also experienced unkindness and cruelty on the part of extended family or locals in their village because of their disability.

During lockdown in March, out of concern that our blind students, (some of whom have asthma) might be at risk of Covid 19, we organised that they stay with their parents until such time as was necessary. However by mid-May there were fewer cases of Covid in Cambodia and our students had started telephoning our school director Mr Sothy to say that they were bored and could they please come back to school!

Our blind students therefore all came back to school in mid May of this year. First they returned to their music studies at our school, then when state schools re-opened in September, they returned to their school lessons.Two of our youth who are blind have been accepted at the local university and we are supporting them as they stay at our school and study higher education. During high school and middle school blind students receive assistance from their Braille Teacher to get through their lessons. Our school supports the Braille Teacher. Once they get to university or college, they are autonomous in their skills at rapid Braille transcription and can manage without a guide.

A third student Piseth who is partially blind is also preparing to enter teaching college and we will support him as he does so,

We hire a special motortaxi to take all our blind students from our school to their different state schools and courses.

Until about January of this year, all our older students who are blind have been doing a course on physiotherapy (physical therapy), so that they can have extra skills, beyond music to earn a living. However due to Covid-19 this has been suspended, but will continue once it is safe to do so. Their first course was sponsored by the local Pharmacy Lida.

You can see a performance of Mohori Music  by our students on our Facebook Page.

We also welcomed two new boys who are also blind to our school as well as seven little sighted children who have suffered abandonnment, or death of their parents, or domestic violence.

We have not yet returned to teaching the many children from outside our school from the local community, because of Covid-19. The risk of infection to our resident children, some of whom have HIV and other illness is a major factor in this decision.

If you would like to continue helping us, we are participating in GlobalGiving's #Giving Tuesday campaign on the 1st December. We are inviting everyone to donate to our main project, but funds received will also benefit our blind students too. #Giving Tuesday starts at 09:00 ET and ends at 23.59 ET.


Wishing you all well-being and good health.

From us all at the Kampot Traditional Music School. 

* Photographs of KCDI students by kind courtesy of Steve Porte. These photographs were done with the permission of our students and staff at KCDI. We do not use full names in order to protect their privacy.

Mohori Music Class
Mohori Music Class
Studying at school using Braille
Studying at school using Braille


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Please send out on the 11th July 2020
Project Report: Please Join us on the 15th July!
By: Catherine Louise Geach 
Position: Founder
Project Location: 1, Ousaphea, Pleauv Eikreach, Kampong Bay, Kampot, Kingdom of Cambodia
Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for your most wonderful support and and generous solidarity.
Even though our world is going through a very difficult and seemingly tumultuous time, your marvellous help shines through.
Even though we haven’t been able to teach children who aren't resident at our school on our Outreach Program, we’ve still been able to take care of All our children Resident at our school. Your support has helped us take care of seven new little children together with all our other children already resident at our school. In the last two months, the local authorities and Kampot Childsafe agents, alerted our school to several children from different families who were suffering severe distress and were at risk. Some had been abandoned by their parents and left with an elderly, disabled grandparent in a remote rural area, two little children had been beaten for a prolonged period by their stepfather and one little girl lost both parents to AIDS herself being infected with HIV. These were all emergency cases requiring swift research and intervention.
Our wonderful staff with great care and loving attention have been looking after our little children. They are all settling down well and are integrating remarkably rapidly into our school. Our other children are kind and caring towards them. 
In my last report I wrote that our blind students had gone to stay with their families during lock-down, as some had health problems which put them at risk from Covid-19 complications. Thankfully for now the Cambodian Government has taken stringent measures to control the spread of the virus and there have been no deaths. Our blind students were in touch with our school and finally said to our director Mr Sothy that they were very bored at home and could they please could come back to our school!? Since mid-May they have been living at our school and have continued with their music studies. They cannot yet go to their physical therapy training classes nor to their state school lessons, as state schools are still closed. All our children and students, whether sighted or blind, do some studying and homework in the morning at our school. Our smaller children then do drawing, reading and other creative activities after homework. Our children also made a vegetable garden too!
We are also immensely grateful to GlobalGiving who awarded us a $1,000 emergency Covid-19 Grant. Our school has kept going all this time. Even though we’ve been isolating to prevent infections, we have continued to look after all our resident children and their myriad needs every day. We’ve continued to teach traditional Cambodian music, dance and Yike theatre. We’ve been able to do this because our staff chose to isolate with our children in order to provide continuity, protection and education for them. We must not close because our children don’t have anywhere else safe to go. The GlobalGiving Grant as well as your donations present and future go towards providing nourishing meals for our children, clothing, electricity, water, bedding, mosquito nets, sanitary materials, face masks, hand sanitisers, repairs and also adds to our medical care budget. We also use your donations to continue our arts and childcare programs and provide scholastic and arts materials.
Please may I ask you all to help us by sharing the news of a special and important fundraising day on GlobalGiving, which will benefit our school. This fundraising day will be held on Wednesday 15th July, starting at 09.00 (ET) and ending 23.59.59 (ET) or until matching funds run out. GlobalGiving is encouraging larger donations and will be matching unique donations from $100 to $499 at 15%, then from $500 to $749 at 30% and from $750 to $1,000 at 50%! In order to be sure that matching funds don’t run out, it’s important to give as early as possible (after the official start time of course). Due to the fact that it is a one day campaign, GlobalGiving can only accept credit card, debit card or Apple Pay.
The Matching Funds day on 15th July is very important for us because we want to be sure we can take care of our children, feed, clothe, care, house and provide education and arts for them into 2021, especially as the world’s economic situation is so uncertain and we may not be able to gather any official funding from foundations or organisations.
I would like to thank each and everyone of you as well as the GlobalGiving Team from the bottom of my heart.
May you and your loved ones all stay well and safe,
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One of our blind students studying the Tro
One of our blind students studying the Tro

Dear kind Supporters,

Thank you all so much for your donations and kind help these last few months. We deeply appreciate your care towards our school.

Our school has two main programs. The first is our Residential Program where children who have lost their parents, or who have been abandoned and abused can live at our school full-time in peace and safety. Additionally we also have blind children and youth resident at our school. All our children resident have state school lessons, receive complete care, study traditional Cambodian arts and older children have vocational training. For our blind youth their academic lessons are accompanied by a Braille teacher and they use Braille materials. They also study physiotherapy and have computer lessons as well as music lessons, in order to increase their knowledge and skills to equip them for adulthood.

Our second main program (this very project that you are sponsoring) which is free Traditional Cambodian Arts tuition for impoverished children and youth. Some of our programs are cyclic, so for example we taught 450 children from Di Pok school, we also trained musicians from local pagoda schools before them. We taught disabled children and youth in coordination with Epic Arts and we have helped extremely poor children by providing their basic needs as well as giving scholastic education and arts training. Our new programs to train college students in Cambodian arts, as they prepare to become primary and secondary school teachers and high level training in the arts as vocational training for poor state school students, has had to be postponed due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Our school is now in isolation, with some external staff now staying at their homes and receiving their salaries, whilst other residential staff observe strict rules to avoid contamination. Some of our resident children have serious health issues like HIV, epilepsy, asthma etc; and we must protect them and our staff.

Some of our blind youth with underlying health issues are now with their families in their remote villages and we stay in touch with them by telephone. They will return after the Khmer New Year. The rest of our resident children have nowhere else to go and we are their home and we will always take care of them at our school for as long as they need. In fact most of them come as young children and then graduate as young adults.

Our second program will resume as soon as the Covid-19 crisis has passed. Funds donated for this program will be saved and will be used for this program.

We will inform all donors on GlobalGiving through a new report when our Second Program activities commence again.

Thank you so much for your understanding.

Our school wishes everyone well and we wish you all good health and safety. 

With love from us all


(Photos by kind courtesy of Steve Porte with permission given by our KCDI students)


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Tim Khorn looking at her photo from 1994!
Tim Khorn looking at her photo from 1994!

Dear Kind Donors,

In December 2019, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary since the founding of our school in Autumn 1994.

Our school - The Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children, (Khmer Cultural Development Institute - KCDI), was built during the Cambodian civil war in Southwestern Cambodia, at the time a Khmer Rouge stronghold.

Building our school and working in the remoter districts to coordinate with local authorities for children to come and study at our school, was dangerous. Two of the people I worked with, the District Chief of Chumkiri in Kampot Province and the Chief of Kus Tramkak in neighbouring Takeo Province, were killed by Khmer Rouge forces. There was often no running water and electricity was rationed, there was a curfew at 3pm on the main highway from Kampot to Phnom Penh 137km away. There were anti-personnel mines everywhere and government soldiers would rob people at gun-point.

In these conditions our school was built. After twenty-five years this December 7th 2019 we celebrated and gave thanks for all the marvelleous and enriching experiences we have had and are having. Former students from 1994 onwards came for our Anniversary Concert. We held a special exhibition in our main hall with photos from 1992 onwards, when the Governor of Kampot first donated the land (despite being held a sacred place, it was a wasteland and rubbish dump with scrub and human bones left over from the genocide).

We gave a wonderful concert with our current students and former alumni performing as well. The Secretary of State for Culture came, His Excellency Hab Touch and on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, he presented our school with two beautiful Chapey Dong Veng instruments as part of a new project we have for our blind children and youth. Afterwards we had a lovely buffet under the trees by our fishponds with a big cake to finish!

As we welcome 2020 we expect to give training to teacher-college students as part of a partnership with the Ministry of Education, so that these young teachers may then transmit their knowledge of the arts to future generations of Cambodian children. We will continue assisting vulnerable children who come and study the arts during the day, some receiving nourishing meals and medical care, then going home at nights. Of course we will always care for our children who have no parents and have suffered neglect and abuse, as well as our blind children and youth.

Thank you for making all this possible by generously donating and for being part of our Twenty-Five years and Counting - service to Cambodian children and the Community. We are so grateful.

Happy New Year 2020!

Love from us all at KCDI

Presentation of a Chapey Dong Veng Instrument
Presentation of a Chapey Dong Veng Instrument
Performance with Blind Students
Performance with Blind Students
Picture of Khorn (on the right front) in 1994
Picture of Khorn (on the right front) in 1994


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Organization Information

Khmer Cultural Development Institute

Location: Kampot Town, Kampot Province - Cambodia
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Catherine Geach
Kampot, Cambodia
$13,652 raised of $20,000 goal
371 donations
$6,348 to go
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