Where we work. Kdei Karuna is a local non-governmental organization operating in the Kingdom of Cambodia, a vibrant and diverse country located in Southeast Asia. Cambodia is undergoing rapid economic and cultural development, largely pushed by the country's changing demographics in which youth (or people under the age of 30) make up more than 65% of the population. While many of these youth are hungry for the pace of development to quicken, development itself is still hampered by the country's Khmer Rouge past. In between 1975 and 1979, nearly 2 million Cambodians perished. Not included in these estimates are the number of Cambodians that died during the Civil War prior to the Khmer Rouge regime, the 8 years of American bombings in rural Cambodia, and the conflict that ensued the country post-Khmer Rouge that lasted well into the 1990s.
Cambodia shows the characteristics of a post-conflict country that is in process of overcoming the legacy of the mass atrocities that occurred under previous regimes. These include among many others (i) social fragmentation; (ii) limited culture and structures for non-violent conflict resolution; and (iii) widespread negative psychosocial effects resulting from experiencing mass violence (including a high prevalence of trauma), with long-lasting consequences for social life. These characteristics indicate that the process of consolidating a lasting peace, including coming to terms with the long-term consequences of mass atrocities, and building effective capacities within the country that help to avoid the recurrence of future conflict is not yet completed.
Kdei Karuna’s vision is to contribute to sustainable peace efforts by enabling individuals to live together with dignity, tolerance, and harmony. As such, Kdei Karuna implements a number of projects that emphasize community-level interventions that evolve based on needs voiced by the communities we work with. For over 10 years, Kdei Karuna has developed close working relations with 16 different rural communities in Cambodia, including ethnic minorities such as Khmer Islam, Vietnamese, and Khmer Loeu communities. In addition, Kdei Karuna has a close partnership with Bangkok-based Mahidol University to increase dialogue between Cambodian and Thai university students and build stronger ASEAN relations.
Kdei Karuna implements two programs - the Justice and History Outreach and the Inter-ethnic and Cross-Border Dialogue programs.
The Justice and History Outreach program aims to empower villagers to take ownership over their healing process through strengthening community relationships, increasing communication on issues from the past, building capacities on conflict resolution and dialogue facilitation, and encouraging the development of locally-driven memory initiatives.
The Inter-ethnic and Cross-Border Dialogue program aims to encourage mutual understanding and inclusive citizenship among diverse elements of society in a way that enhances their ability to address difference in a non-violent manner. To meet our objectives, KdK works with both urban and rural citizens, encouraging university students to form relationships with students of other ASEAN countries, and promoting tolerance via research and awareness-building initiatives.
Gender empowerment is an important aspect of all of Kdei Karuna's programs. Working with a consortium of NGOs, the Pka Sla project aims to foster transformation in the understanding of GBV and gender equity through the artistic memorialization of shared experience and intergenerational dialogue regarding forced marriage under the Khmer Rouge.
At Kdei Karuna, we understand the importance of research in developing our capacity to address social issues. KdK has worked with a number of independent researchers to develop more differentiated understandings of Khmer Rouge history and modern-day social issues, including tension between ethnic groups.