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Human Statue Bodyart

Poverty Campaign

Krousar Thmey’s first activities began in 1991 in the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand through the initiative of a young Frenchman, Benoît DUCHATEAU-ARMINJON. Cost controller for the Accor group in Bangkok at the time, he was shocked by the children’s situation which he witnessed during a visit to the Site II camp on the Thai border. He then decided to take a sabbatical year to help these child refugees.

With the help of Cambodian teams, Benoît created two small structures to protect orphaned or abandoned children in the camp. Then, very soon after the signing of peace agreements, arose the question of the repatriation of refugees to Cambodia. His commitment continued beyond the year’s sabbatical to allow the reintegration of young people in good conditions through the creation of welcoming protection centres. Other programmes were born in response to new problems, particularly that of street children. Temporary street children centres accommodate them in a safe and warm environment so that they can rebuild their lives and acquire skills for the future. Family houses are another option for reintegration into a family.
Meeting young Wanna in the refugee camp Site II was the catalyst for what would become Krousar Thmey’s main programme: the education of blind children firstly, and secondly the education of deaf children. With these aims in mind, Krousar Thmey first of all created a range of adapted tools: Khmer Braille and sign language. The teaching staff also developed a programme of special education in order to make the teaching of national Cambodian curriculum accessible to children with special needs. Little by little, all this would form a complete programme for the education of deaf and blind children, with teacher training, the manufacture of teaching tools, printing of textbooks in Braille or sign language…Thanks to a collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, this programme is now recognised by the authorities who are gradually integrating it on a national level.

The desire to offer children education in culture and traditional arts also began in the refugee camps, and through this education they are able to find their roots in their own culture and build their self-confidence. Travelling exhibitions were set up in the camps as an invitation to rediscover Cambodian culture. After repatriation, singing and traditional dance lessons took place in all the centres and schools and in 1996, a Khmer art and culture school opened its doors in Serey Sophon.