About Khmer Cultural Development Institute (KCDI) - The Kampot Traditional Music School
The Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children – Khmer Cultural Development Institute was the first cultural centre of it’s kind to be built outside the Royal University of Fine Arts. Our core commitment is the restoration and preservation of traditional Cambodian culture and fine arts, after the terrible destruction of the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-1979) and civil war (1970 – 2004). Our school also focuses on the care and development of orphaned, disabled and vulnerable children.
The Khmer Cultural Development Institute was ratified as a Cambodian non-governmental organisation in 1993 by the Supreme National Council of Cambodia under King Norodom Sihanouk and later ratified under the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.
Built in 1994 during the civil war, our school initially faced great difficulties, due to kidnap threats and heavy shelling, especially in the Phnom Vor area.Throughout this period there was a 3pm curfew from the main route from Kampot to Phnom Penh, due to Khmer Rouge incursions. The Khmer Rouge also occupied the adjacent seaside town of Kep, including the main bridge leading to Kampot.
Where our school is located, Official Partnerships and Awards
Our school works in coordination with the Ministries of Culture, Education and Social Affairs and our teachers come from the National Theatre/Royal Ballet and Royal University of Fine Arts. We also partner with other cultural organisations both national and international. The school grounds are situated in the heart of Kampot town in a large garden filled with trees, flowers and little fish-ponds. There are four main buildings :
- The great hall for music and dance study/performance, designed by the late You Sam El, royal architect, the construction of which was sponsored by the Government of Japan
- The Mohori music and library wing, sponsored by the Canada Fund
- The dormitory and dining room building, sponsored by the Government of Japan and the office and medical room, sponsored by the British Embassy.
Legislation and Child Protection Policy
We take our work very seriously. Beside the commitment to the preservation of traditional Cambodian culture, we also prioritise the care of orphaned and disabled children. Our school holds special policy guidelines for the protection of children, staff conduct, public performances and volunteering. We do not accept volunteers, with the exception of a qualified accountant who comes to our school once yearly from a certified UK based NGO for annual auditing and training. We do not accept tourism volunteering of any kind and we adhere to a strict policy originally laid down by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which does not allow strangers to come and work with our children.
As with Western and developed countries where complete strangers would not be allowed to interact with students at a school or in a family, so it is so with our school. We have special Cultural Exchange Programs with certified international schools, well-known scholars and artists who have been vetted before being allowed to come to our school.
We would like to emphasise that it is only qualified Cambodian artists themselves who can truly teach and pass down their marvellous cultural heritage to the next generation of young Cambodians.
Today the town of Kampot is well known as a beautiful centre with old colonial buildings and is situated near the river and the splendid Bokor national mountain park. However rural Kampot suffers from great poverty and lack of development. Many remote areas are without clean drinking water or electricity. Parents abandon children to seek work in Thailand and disease such as Tuberculosis, Malaria and AIDS are rife.
During the Khmer Rouge regime and then afterwards during the civil war when the Khmer Rouge held sway over rural areas in Kampot, local people suffered terribly. Today there are many instances of post-traumatic stress, psychological problems, substance dependency and difficulties with affectivity. In these conditions, orphaned children are often neglected and even abused. Many attempts at fostering in local families have not been successful, because the very fabric of society is emotionally damaged and not sufficiently developed towards such high level responsibilities.
Mission, Vision, Values
Vision: A society that respects, values and supports traditional Khmer arts and culture and provides opportunities for vulnerable children.
Mission: The mission of KCDI is to protect, preserve and develop Cambodian traditional arts and culture for future generations through education, training and awareness raising and to care for and heal vulnerable children.
Values: Empowerment, Collaboration, Learning, Solidarity, Integrity & Responsibility.
Cambodian Registered Charity Number 1473.
The Khmer Cultural Development Institute, also known as the Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children, is a non-governmental and non-profit humanitarian organisation to care for orphaned, abandoned and disabled children and the preservation of Cambodian traditional arts.