Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Newsletter June 2010 1
Dear Friends of Karuna,

There are so many things to relate to you about the progress of the Karuna Children's Center in Cambodia.

So starting now we will be producing a regular quarterly newsletter to keep you abreast of the amazing developments at our project in the remote fields of Varin. We will highlight for you the progress being made with the children in terms of their education, independence, self esteem and the role models they have become for their community.

Our sponsorship program is starting to take hold which gives the children greater confidence that they will continue to be supported through the years to the end of their schooling. Please take time to read the newsletter and we welcome your feedback.

Five years of the Karuna Children's Centre
2010 marks five full years since the inception of Karuna Children’s project in the remote northern district of Varin in Cambodia. We can now look back and review the goals we set at the beginning of this project and reflect on what has been achieved during this time.

At the heart of the project are the lives of 55 children who came to us in July 2005 through the monks at the Chankiri Temple desperately seeking a home and a chance to build a future for themselves. These kids had never been to school, were under nourished, had severe medical challenges, wore putrid clothes, knew nothing about basic sanitation and were the most vulnerable children in the poorest region in Cambodia. Some were orphans, others abandoned, others surplus to their families ability to feed and care for them , others neglected or abused.

The district chief and the chief monk readily agreed to provide land for us upon which to build a shelter and begin the healing process to help these kids achieve some of life’s potential. They came as young as 4 years old up to 15 years.

We were told the challenges lay in establishing a centre to care for, feed and educate these children in the oppressive heat of this rural setting with no running water, no power, limited resources, difficulty of attracting teachers and staff and a community who saw temptation to traffic these children or work them to the bone in the fields under a blazing sun.
The Karuna Foundation was born to tackle these challenges. The Karuna family of sponsors and the local carers & teachers at the Centre have indeed every reason to be proud of the efforts they have collectively achieved in just these short 5 years.

The Karuna Children’s Center is now more than a home to these children who care for each other like brothers and sisters.

Here are some of the results achieved to date:

*5 Children have won scholarships to attend the Light & Hope foundations secondary school program
*4 children have progressed into vocational education programs learning mechanical and textile skills
* 2 children have returned to their village to be married
*5 children have rejoined their community as farm hands
* 38 children continue to thrive at the centre with 10 currently aspiring to attend high school next year and go on to University
* Dormitories for the boys and girls continue to be improved, basic kitchen and bathroom facilities installed, classrooms updated with new learning tools
*All children have transitioned into the government school system which has now opened its doors to over 300 of the community’s children as a direct result of Karuna’s teachers coming to the area.
*All the Karuna children have been trained in English, Computer skills, Craftwork, Sports (volleyball & football) and traditional Khmer dancing
* Nutrition and health levels continue to be monitored for improvement
* A rice bank has been established thanks to feed the children for a whole year
*Water treatment and irrigation tanks have been installed
* A fruit and vegetable farm has been constructed to teach basic agribusiness skills
*Clothing drives and contributions of health packs and literacy packs from schools in Australia has connected the Cambodian children with our own local kids
* Confidence and self esteem has skyrocketed


The owners of PostBox Cafe at Yowie Bay, Joel & Margo, played host to a wonderful evening of trivia and fun on the eve before Australia Day at Cafe 12 to raise funds for a badly needed rice bank and water filters. The staff were absolutely marvellous in preparing a gourmet feast and the Erlin family's co ordination of the evening ensured that everything went along without a hitch including Conner's now famous Chongo Bars. The funds raised produced a rice bank of over 10,000 kilograms of rice and a number of new terracotta water filters for healthy drinking. Many thanks to all involved.


The teaching of English language skills is currently a primary focus of our activities. As other programs in Cambodia have shown our children will find job opportunities easier to qualify for with a good command of English. Cathy has spearheaded a program at the Karuna Center to teach conversational English which is really beginning to take effect. She has been ably supported by several volunteers , including Catherine Lumley, and Janis & Jeff Kennedy who have supported the program with on the ground instruction to the children during the hottest time of the year. ..Thanks so much to these wonderful people for your support..


In October 2010 we are excited to be announcing the next stage of the children’s development plan. We are launching a scholarship program to help 10 children (yrs 16-17) transition to a higher quality of education in the town of Siem Reap. These scholarships will pay for their full board , tuition fees, books, uniforms , food, excursions , and trips back to their community. The annual cost of each child’s scholarship is $1,000 and will run for 2 years. The children likely to qualify have been exceeding all our expectations at the local schools, topping their classes in most subjects . They have interests to pursue tertiary courses in medicine, nursing, teaching, engineering, public works and other disciplines and all have a strong desire to bring these skills back to their rural communities.

We at the Karuna Foundation believe that we need to continue to support these young role models in their community to achieve their goals even though we originally were planning to return them to the communities at age 15. Several have condensed all their education into the last 5 years and are excelling to the point that to deprive them now of further education is depriving their community of skills that they would never be able to attract from outside the community.

We ask you to continue to support this incredible program if you are in a position to do so. $1000 per year for 2 years will see one of these children enter high school in the town of Siem Reap . Alternatively $50 per month will continue to sponsor a younger child at the remote Karuna Center in the lead up to their senior education.

Whatever contribution you can afford will be gratefully accepted and will be put to good use (without administration fees) as we continue to help these kids strive for a more decent life. All contributions are tax deductible.

We would like to thank the many supporters and sponsors who have helped shape these kids lives with a purpose until now and hope you will continue to do so.

Cathy & Phil Kiely

How can I contribute?

We have so many friends to thank for their contributions in so many different ways.

Grandmothers are knitting blankets, school mums are baking cakes, schools are organising clothes drives & trivia nights, volunteers are active on the ground., cafe's are organising dinner appeals.

Your financial contribution however goes a long , long way and is guaranteed to get to the kids without the middlemen or high admin costs.

You can forward credit card details or cheques for one off donations to to Karuna/AFAP 21 Cremorne Rd Cremorne 2090
Monthly sponsorships for the scholarships at $85 per month or sponsorships for the younger children at the Centre at $50 per month can be made via Direct debits or credit card transfers to AFAP Overseas Aid Fund
BSB: 082 348 A/c No. 509412614 Reference Karuna

Alternatively go to the donations page on our site :

All donations are tax deductible

Other news

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our Karuna Family & Friends
Karuna Foundation Greetings December 2014
Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Crabhouse, a Bloody Musical
Crabhouse, A Bloody Musical is being showcased on 9th May 2013
Thursday, 21 March 2013

Karuna visits Mt Kulen
The children of Karuna paid a special visit to Mt Kulen to light incense at the sacred site of the lying Buddah as a mark of respect for the recently deceased King Siannouk
Friday, 15 March 2013

Solar Power for Varin
Solar power has finally come to the Children's Centre in Varin
Tuesday, 4 December 2012

July 2012 Report
Here is the report sent to all our members and friends
Monday, 29 October 2012

Karuna Gala Concert
A wonderful evening of music featuring Simon Tedeschi and Kevin Hunt in the Stunning surrounds of Government House was held on May 14 2011
Monday, 11 July 2011

Scholarship Program commences
The scholarship program provides funds for the older children to live in Siem Reap in our new home.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010

English lessons for all!
During the hottest months of February, March and early April 2010, Cathy ventured up to Varin to establish a program of English lessons for the different age groups at the centre and spent time in the local schools as well teaching English to over 200 children.
Friday, 23 April 2010

Children learn Khmer dancing skills
Karuna children are learning how to dance traditional Cambodian movements
Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Rice Bank
A Rice Bank has been established for the Karuna Children's Centre thanks to the generous donations of the people of Gymea.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010