Karuna - meaning Compassion
Karuna Foundation was set up in 2004 by Phil & Cathy Kiely. Its principal mission is to provide nutrition, care, education & development to the poorest of the poor in remote areas of Cambodia. Working alongside the local commune chief, village chiefs, pagoda monks and local carers Karuna embarked on the construction of the Karuna Children's Centre and became custodians to 60 of Varin's most needy. It built 2 dormitories, wash room facilities, classrooms, kitchen and dining areas, sports fields, vegetable gardens, a rice bank, employed Khmer (local) teachers to help the kids make a solid start in life in a community with no access to education. The children quickly became role models for their desperate community.
Within 2 years Karuna's teachers were asked to teach at the newly opened government school and before long over 500 children were enrolled.
Today the Varin Centre has been handed over to the monks to be used as a community centre and the original children are now completing their high school studies in Karuna's Siem Reap Centre or conducting vocational training courses.
The Karuna Story so far (2004-2015)
Discussions commenced with Village and Commune chief, Karuna founders and local monks to build a Children’s shelter at the Pagoda for 60 Cambodian children ( aged 5-15). These children were abandoned, orphaned or the most vulnerably poor in the Varin district, the poorest part of Cambodia where 1200 children have no access to schools.
Construction commenced for a dormitory, classroom and kitchen /toilet facilities using local labor and materials from dilapidated huts from the village.
Opening of the Karuna Children’s Centre. 2 teachers were hired from the town of Siem Reap, 4 local carers, and a supervisor. Nutrition levels are monitored and medical disabilities addressed. Education begins.
Added separate dormitory, volleyball court, solar path lighting, water tank.
Commenced agribusiness project to grow vegetables and fruit. Approached by district education chief to request our teachers to teach at local school which had been built 7 years earlier but had never opened.
All Karuna children now attend the local school under our teachers direction and now 500 children from local commune being educated by them. Karuna teaching facilities used at night for English teaching.
Held celebration concert with Simon Tedeschi and 1400 villagers turned out . Generator installed.
5 Children offered scholarships to attend senior school at Light & Hope foundation. 5 Children go onto apprenticeships trades jobs and 8 farming.
Craft and dancing skills added to the Karuna curriculum. A new dance shaded area constructed . PC and laptops are donated and training facilities established. The children take remarkably to the new technologies offered to them.
Rice Bank established to counter rapidly rising prices and for community , construction of water transport system from sacred pond.
Children perform Khmer dancing at local religious festival. Volunteer English teaching program established. One girl receives scholarship for dancing
High School Scholarship program launched for oldest children to attend high school at Karuna's new Centre in Siem Reap. Monsoon ruins agricrops. Solar Panels installed in Varin.
New Centre in Siem Reap commenced with 7 children transferring . New Carer hired, and bicycles donated. New Computer and English speaking facility in Siem Reap. New washroom facilities in Varin. Agribusiness rebuilt.
5 New Students going into Seam Reap Centre, 3 girls from Varin training to be beauticians, seamstresses. Larger facilty in SR now required. Need to continue funding of children at both centres. $50 per month per child at Varin; $90 per month in Siem Reap.
Solar Panels installed at Varin Centre. New extensions completed in Siem Reap to house additional senior students from Varin.
June 2013 Partnerships established with SOS, Life & Hope Foundation, Sal Bai, and apprenticeships commenced with local business in Srei Nuoy and Siem Reap. IT courses and English courses continue with success in SiemReap
June 2014 Remaining children in Varin transferred into high school at Siem Reap Centre, Varin Centre handed over to monks. 2 Pole houses reconstructed in Kokandal for a mechanics workshop and Srei Samot for tailor/seamstress venue.
Jan 2015 Tertiary scholarships offered to graduating kids to pursue management/business IT courses