In 1991, 26-year-old Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon left France and his career in finance behind to spend a year helping Cambodian refugee children living in Thailand. However, after meeting Wanna – a young blind boy who was neglected because of his disability – Benoît knew that his life would never be the same, and he was inspired to do more. He and a Cambodian team began to develop Khmer Braille and sign language in order to help disabled children get a proper education for the first time in the country’s history. His efforts led him to found Krousar Thmey (meaning “New Family”), a national network of temporary and protection centers, schools and training centers that provide educational, social, emotional and material support to Cambodia’s disadvantaged children, most often children who are deaf or blind. In 1994, Krousar Thmey opened the first school for blind children in Cambodia. Now, with the support of the Cambodian Ministry of Education, their educational program for deaf and blind children is being integrated into the national curriculum for special needs classes and schools.
Today, Krousar Thmey is one of the largest Cambodian foundations for disadvantaged children. Run by Cambodians and for Cambodians, Krousar Thmey has grown to support over 4,000 children annually.