July 2012 Report

Monday, 29 October 2012

Karuna Foundation Newsletter
June 2012

Dear Friends of Karuna,

Well what a year of ups and downs it has been for the Karuna project in Cambodia. We commenced the new financial year with 5 of our senior children graduating to attend high school with our other senior students in Siem Reap thanks to the scholarships provided by many of you. We also had a wonderful concert at Government house in Sydney and were entertained by Simon Tedeschi and Kevin Hunt in the presence of the Governor, Marie Bashir.

Not long after the concert one of the worst storms to cross Asia in many years wreaked havoc in Cambodia with devestating typhoons and flooding rains destroying our crops and damaging our buildings including the library and all our books. The children in Varin were fortunately well cared for during the crisis and were evacuated to the nearby temple.
This is just another example of the torrid times these communities have to endure from time to time.

On a brighter note our senior students in Siem Reap have adapted very well to their accomodation in the Wat Bo area and have acclimatised extremely well to their new school.They are delighted to have the additional 5 children from Varin joining them.

All the children are so fortunate to have so many of you supporting them as they continue improving their education and developing opportunities for their future.

We would like to sincerely thank you for your past and continued support as we develop new initiatives to help their community become self sustainable through their children.

Phil & Cathy Kiely

New Cambodian Partnership established

Karuna Foundation has established a new partnership called the Cambodian Education Development Fund (CEDF) which will be our eyes and ears on the ground in managing our two projects. This new NGO will ensure compliance with government regulations, manage the project activities of the Karuna Children's Centre in Varin and the Siem Reap Student Centre and ensure the health and care of all our children is maintained. The director of the New NGO is Sian Sokphen, who has been with us since our inception in Cambodia over 8 years ago.
We are very excited about this new partnership as we can now plan with greater certainty the future of Karuna and its place in the community as it evolves over the next few years.
Sokphen will spread his time at the new NGO betweeen Karuna activities and another allied organisation, Opportunity Cambodia.

Light & Hope introduce new sewing skills
Karuna has established a partnership with the Light & Hope Foundation to teach sewing skills to our girls at the newly estasblished sewing centre at Wat Damnack. Venerable Nol , the resident monk is the co ordinator at the centre and has been working with Cathy who has been instructing in embroidery. One of our girls, has taken up residence there with 27 other girls and is loving the opportunity to learn skills which will translate into paid work. Already one of the graduates of the course has set up a small microbusiness with her sewing machine in a small hut in Varin. She is now indundated with jobs repairing old clothes and creating new sarongs for the local community. A real inspiration to our children.
We are eager to work with several other vocational training organisations to do similar things in developing mechanical & building skills using our facilities at the centre as a base for the entire community to use.

Siem Reap Student Centre now at 11 children
The newly built house in Siem Reap now houses 11 of the children from Varin. They are all enrolled in the Siem Reap High School Collegue near Wat Bo. The pace of tuition and variety of courses challenges the children well beyond what they could possibly have imagined back in Varin. However they have risen to these challenges and it is quite amazing to see how much they have blossomed. 7 boys and 4 girls are now at the college, doing evening tuition and achieving excellent marks their exams and class levels. Most of them want to go complete year 12 and advance to tertiary studies

When our Centre was first established in the poorest and most remote rural area in Cambodia several of the children were aged between 10 and 12 years. Now, 8 years on , 11 of those young adults are living in Siem Reap with our Director and his family and their carer. They attend the local high school and in addition are having private lessons each afternoon in subjects such as English and are also being tutored in subjects they are finding difficult.

They have adapted incredibly well to urban living; prior to the move to Siem Reap they hadn't experienced the basics we take for granted such as running water and electricity. Now they blend in at the school, they look healthy and are confident and happy. One of the boys who only moved there 6 months ago proudly told me in halting but clear English that not only is he studying English but also Chinese! He then produced his books and recited some vocabulary. Each of the children have adapted well to living in Siem Reap, however, they continue to have extremely strong connections with their village and extended families in Varin and often talk about how they will return as teachers or nurses or will help out their families financially.

Children's Center in Varin

TengSoo, our field supervisor in the remote Children's Centre in Varin and his carers have all been through a very tough year with seering heat and drought in the dry season and flooding and destructive typhoons in the wet season. Despite these difficulties they have all maintained great courage and a sense of humour to get them through this challenging year.

We are starting to see great results for the years of hard work and the incredible challenge of keeping these younger children in their home environment of Varin instead of establishing the Centre in the well equipped town of Siem Reap.

When the older and more mature students left for Siem Reap 2 years ago to go to high school their absence was felt at the Varin Centre and also at the local school where they were outstanding students. A gap in the leadership amongst the children who remain at the Centre is starting to be filled by some of the most unlikely candidates who are now rising to the challenge of being leaders in their own right. Several boys and girls who have previously stayed in the background are now starting to shine and fill the spaces left by their older friends.

We now have water pumped up to the water tanks which is such a huge relief for the children who were trapsing down to the river in previous years to fill buckets of water for cooking and boiling for drinking. Now that earthenware filtered tanks are installed, they are assured of clean drinking water.

Several of the carers have departed as there are now alternative jobs to be found in the area planting plantines which is a new crop developed in the area by Korean investors. We are gradually replacing them and calling on the community to continue playing an active role with the centre as they have in the past.

The facility is still awaiting for the solar panels to be installed after a generous donation was made earlier in the year. Floods and red tape have stalled the installation but we are about to commence in July. This will really give everyone at the centre a chance to see at night without the deafening sound of a generator and for the children to study and to power up their laptops.

We have also had several volunteers through this year to enhance their language skills. The two teachers who have lived at the centre contnue to be tremendous role models for the children.

Karuna engages Angkor Children's Hospital
In August Karuna made a trip to Siem Reap to train a team of emergency doctors and nurses at the Angkor Children's Hospital in the use of a life saving new device to measure cardiac output in severly traumatised children. Dr Peaktra is the chief medical director at the hospital and was very excited to have such a sophisticated device on hand to enable his team to provide optimised treatment for children with life threatening illnesses such as sepsis. The relationship with the hospital is now well anchored with Karuna.

How can I contribute?
Please help us continue this important work.....if you can

$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 young 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

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 $50 per month or sponsorships for the young children with credit card transfers to AFAP Overseas Aid Fund
BSB: 062 048 A/c No. 509412614 Reference Karuna

All donations are tax deductible

One off Payments Online are now possible using GoFundraise. Click on the AFAP Donations link and enter the amount of your contribution and select Karuna in the drop down box. LINK=

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

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Friday, 15 March 2013

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

Karuna Gala Concert
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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

The first Newsletter of the Karuna Children's Centre is now online To see it in Graphical format go to or read it in text form below
Wednesday, 16 June 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