GoFundMe – Reconnecting Cambodia Project

I turned 50 years old this March (according to my sketchy exit papers). Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge coming to power – the genocidal regime under Pol Pot that left nearly 2 million of its people (¼ of the population) dead and forced Cambodia back to the stone age. About a million refugees were resettled abroad during three decades of civil war – families like mine were torn apart and relatives simply went missing, with no surviving records to help reconnect or trace them. Today, the social impact on mental health, and poverty (with their associated issues), remains a challenge on a national scale.

The RECONNECTING CAMBODIA (RC) PROJECT is ambitious, unique and never done before. It was conceived to give new hope to countless people like me across three generations to be reunited with lost family members. The aim is not only to test every family that lost someone, but in doing so, restitch the social fabric of a country that the Khmer Rouge purposefully destroyed. The science of DNA can not only restore the past, but it is also the future.


Although we are an exciting partnership between DNACambodia (Netherlands) and Khmer Family Charity Organization (KFCO) in Cambodia, we are a small team of 3 internationally-based volunteers. Our Cambodian Director is part time.

But in just two years the Project has a total of 350 members in our DNA database. We have tested 114 participants – 46 in Cambodia and 64 internationally. Out of those actively searching, the closest match is a Cambodian auntie with her nephew whose family ended up in France. The more Cambodians who test, the closer the relative matches will be. Imagine what we could do for Cambodians globally with a wider reach, a higher profile and a vehicle to do more test days!


To date all funds are focused on Cambodian operations – office running costs are about $30 per day/$11,000 per year, to find participants, introduce DNA and organise test days. Moving forward, extra funds raised will really help turbocharge development and expansion of the RC Project’s core activities, founded on five pillars: Science, Test, Educate, Assist and Restore (STEAR).


    • SCIENCE – Be A Volunteer Genealogy Assistant – To regularly check the RC Project’s international DNA database accounts for new matches and liaise with them on the meaning of their results or any updates.

    • TEST – Sponsor A Test Day in Cambodia – The DNA tests are free thanks to our kind sponsor MyHeritage. Typically one test day costs around $500 (overnight included). We’ve carried out 4 test days in 2 years. We want to increase this to once every 2 months, so 6 test days per year. Owning a vehicle would save $195 per trip, $4000 per year.

    • EDUCATE – Sponsor An Outreach Trip or Activity in Cambodia – Most urgently we need people to know we exist! To promote and communicate a better understanding of how DNA can help reverse the negative social impact of the Khmer Rouge. Only recently has it been introduced into history lessons. Cambodia’s recovery continues, particularly regarding mental health and poverty. We look forward to partnering with SeeBeyondBorders and others. One overnight trip typically costs around $500.

    • ASSIST – Sponsor An Administrative Assistant – To find and identify potential Project participants in Cambodia where our main target audience is; coordinate test days; assist members with research; and manage membership information. A salary would cost around $300 per month.

    • RESTORE – Sponsor Research Trips to Cambodia’s Killing Fields – So not to forget the victims of the Khmer Rouge and to identify families whose relatives are missing in villages located close to identified 390 Killing Fields across Cambodia – some of which contain around 19,000 mass graves. We are exploring a collaboration with Cambodian mental health and trauma specialists, TPO. An overnight trip costs typically $500. Ideally we want to do one a month, $6000 per year. 


All monies raised will go directly to the bank account of our international operations in the Netherlands and then forwarded to Cambodia:-


    • Khmer Family Charity Organization (KFCO) www.kfco-dna.org – If you are a resident of Cambodia donate here


It all came about when I met Mrs Soth, whose baby she thought dead had in fact been adopted overseas at the same time as me and without her permission. She could have been my birth mother, but our DNA tests said differently. The RC Project is the extension of my promise to help her and my own search. Watch our story here in the UK documentary: Prue Leith: Journey With My Daughter (password PLJWMD), where I met Khin Po-Thai with whom we set up KFCO in Cambodia.

THANK YOU for your time! We look forward to welcoming you on board to support us in any way you can.


Founder, Reconnecting Cambodia Project | Co-founder, DNACambodia (Netherlands) | Patron, Khmer Family Charity Organization (Cambodia) | li-da@dnacambodia.com

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