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.
Dear Peter, by Eva Rinaldi - 1947 - 2010
Now that you have gone over to the other side, I've had more time to reflect and think about what you a great friend you became over the time we got to know each other, and how you enriched my life and that of so many of my friends and associates.
You were a one in a million.
Since your passing over one week ago, I have continued to hear wonderful stories about you, even including some of how fondly you felt about working and collaborating with my team and I, usually in your front yard at Bondi Beach.
Our friend had been telling me for years to spend more time and Bondi Beach, and he kept telling me about how great you were, both as a photographer, and as a wonderful human being.
When we met I immediately realised that all of the wonderful things I heard about your were true. You're wonderful energy and smile, pride in your craft, and last but not least, your generosity of heart and spirit, where you frequently donated time and money to your favorite orphanage in Cambodia. We all just loved the idea of when we got to work with us, sometimes on a commercial basis, that a great deal of those funds would eventually make they way to the orphanage.
All of the projects we did together.... Let's Paint Oprah and a whole lot more. I guess I could tell it was more than just another gig for you. Bondi Beach and the Sydney Oprah House was always a very special day when we were blessed with your presence. Getting the great photos from you just a couple of days later was a bonus but you just added to the experiences in ways hard to describe.
One of the most special days was to be the last time I ever saw you.
It was Friday at Bondi Beach once again for the artistic component of Sea Shepherd's Bondi 'No Compromise'. We were all down at the beach, 'King Neptune', 'Son Of Neptune', Greg chasing you up on the mobile while I was painting. Then all of a sudden we spotted you. In the amazing Tony Abbott beach art costume. It was so funny, as you always were. You had on your colourful shoes as always. The way you directed my artistic creations was outstanding, and the results showed. The highlight was when you gave us the hand made gifts from Cambodia. It was so special to have been hand delivered these by you, knowing that all of us had been supporting the orphanage in our own special way for what must have been almost bean up to a year. I just loved the guardian angel book you gave me. It is one of my most treasured possessions.
When we finished the beach photo shoot we all walked up to the High Tide Room together for the official event, little did we know this would be the last time we would ever see you alive in person.
The weather was turning, blowing up a storm, and it appeared that some of your photography equipment was starting to play up, but like a trooper and true professional, you soldiered on regardless. Thank god that when it was suggested to you to be in a photo with us, taking from photographer and friend, Marek, you agreed.
We did the rounds with you at the event, then I decided to get some fresh air with 5 year old Lui and Greg, Lui wanted to see the beach again. The beach was beautiful, as so many of your photographs demonstrate. We then returned to the event to see you hard at work up front on the stage, where we couldn't reach you. We decided to call it a night.
I often think about you, and of course, your beautiful photographs and spirit surround me. You played a significant part of my time spent at Bondi Beach.
Fortunately, I still get to share stories of your legend with many of my friends. Not to any surprise your remembered service at Bondi Beach was filled with hundreds of your friends and colleagues, a number of which I am happy to be able to call friends also. You were a great friend to many, I think Australia's friendliness photographer, and just a wonderful person.
One day we shall meet again in heaven, for there will be so much to discuss.
I feel I might have been one of your biggest fans. You surrounded yourself with stars, but the more I learn, I think you may have been the biggest star of all. Thank you from my heart.
Love you always Eva xox