Art from the Ashes

The master plays a chapei dang weng

(Andrew) After exploring the breathtaking temples of Angkor Wat, we spent the last week of our Cambodian experience with an inspiring organization called Cambodian Living Arts (CLA).

From 1975 to 1979, Cambodia was ruled by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The impact on Cambodia was huge: 25% of the Cambodian population died during those four years. The Khmer Rouge’s goal was to rip out every single person that was educated in any way. That meant that most of the masters of ancient Cambodian art were murdered.

CLA was started by a man named Arn Chorn-Pond. Arn was a child soldier during the unforgivable reign of the Khmer Rouge. What kept him alive was his ability to play the flute. Arn didn’t play the traditional songs he was taught; he was forced to play Khmer Rouge songs to entertain the leaders. Since then, he has put the past behind him and is trying to revive the arts that were annihilated by Pol Pot and his men. The few masters that survived the terrible times are now passing on their knowledge to aspiring youth. CLA is racing against time to save the last thread of historic Khmer art before the dwindling number of masters pass on. They are rapidly teaching children to become young masters.

Guiding hands for a young dancer

One of the greatest of these young masters is someone we met named Sinat. He visited the USA and we saw him at a fundraiser near our house. That is how we heard of CLA. Sinat is around 25 years old and can play 11 different Khmer instruments. He is planning on building a school where the kids in his village can come and learn music from him. We saw the land he was planning to use and I could just see kids running through it and could just hear music playing.

While traveling the world, we are looking for organizations and groups that we can help. We are really proud to support CLA, young masters like Sinat and his future students. CLA is an amazing organization! You can visit their website which is

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3 Responses to “Art from the Ashes”

  1. Hey Andrew!
    I love your post! You really put everything into a lot of detail, and it sounds awesome!


  2. Hi Andrew,

    I love how you explained how the Ankor Wat was breathtakeing.You had a lot of details in your writeing and that is great! I love your story about Arn Chorn-Pond and how he had to play his flute for Khmer Rouge. I have a question. Did you go to that fundraiser near your house?


  3. Hi Andrew,

    That looked pretty cool and fun. It’s cool how you met a guy at a fundraiser in your home town before. It never happened to me but it seems intresting. Have fun!

    Carly 🙂