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Returning home after working with the UN in Somalia, Soung Santepheap (Sunny) was shocked again by the conditions he found in his home village in Kompong Thom Province in Cambodia. In particular, the plight of the area’s homeless children and the shared hopelessness of their future provided the inspiration that lives today as KaisKids.
As with many journeys, Sunny could not have anticipated the twists and turns ahead, but his sense of mission has guided KaisKids through some remarkable achievements in the ensuing years. Joined in 2002 by Karen Butler, KaisKids full time programme director, initially KaisKids provided support to needy families and orphanages in Kompong Thom, Kep and Mondolkiri.
Seeking a permanent home in which to provide comprehensive care, the Kais Village Community was founded in an old farmhouse that was refurbished for 20 children and staff. Situated in Treng Trayoeung village on 7 hectares of land, today the thriving community houses over 40 children and comprises a school, a nursery for our youngest children, accommodation for the older children, a large kitchen & dining room and a medical centre. It is set on a working farm, which by the end of 2013 will grow enough to contribute half of the community’s food.
At times overwhelmed by the need beyond those helped by the Kais Village Community itself, Sunny and the team have reached out to meet other needs in Cambodia. In 2005 and 2006, KaisKids’ donors and staff in Cambodia refurbished 2 schools; Koh Thmei and Romdoul Thmei – the latter a joint project with the Cambodian Ministry of Education which converted an unused building to a school – supporting the future of another 170 children. In 2007, KaisKids started an outreach program to support over 20 HIV-infected children in Kampot province with foster care, food, medicine, education, transport and emotional support.