KhodeUp aims to empower Cambodian teens by providing computer science education, laptops, and improving the Internet connection.
Ming Horn
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Berkeley, California
United States
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What Is This Anyway?

Does KhodeUp sound far-fetched? Let me change your mind.

My half-brother and five cousins grew up in an orphanage outside Phnom Penh. The youngest two are still there. Except for Rith, who works on a farm, the older kids all work in the ‘hospitality’ industry where they feel lucky to earn $80/month.

I’ve traveled to visit them five times, spending a total of 23 weeks in Cambodia. My brother and I have always loved hanging out at the orphanage. The kids are just like us -- funny, smart, and curious about the world. When I was there last November I talked to Srey Art, a girl who won the education lottery. She's coming to the US for college. I asked what she wants to study, then I practically punched the wall when I heard her answer. She really really wants to study computers, but she has no experience. So she'll study business instead.


To understand why that answer so offends me, you've got to know that I’m a tech addict. I started simple coding in kindergarten, moving on to website design when I was 11. Last summer I spent eight weeks at Twitter with Girls Who Code, and I’ll study computer science when I go to college next year. Until the immersion program at Twitter, I was completely self-taught. Like most coders, all I needed to get started was a computer and an Internet connection.

Within a couple hours of the conversation with Srey Art, I started researching Internet/computer science opportunities in Phnom Penh. Two things stood out: the exponential growth of smart phones in Cambodia, and the dearth of websites designed by and for Khmer users. The conclusion: huge opportunity for Khmer web developers.

Entering this field has a low bar in terms of assets and infrastructure: a laptop, a good Internet connection, and a basic introduction to coding. These are all things that we can provide through KhodeUp.The idea gains real urgency when you compare what my cousins make waiting on tables ($80/month) to the going rate for building a website in Phnom Penh ($200/site).

Will all KhodeUp students become web developers? Probably not. But a few will, and the rest will get language practice and tech skills that will be huge assets in other fields. We've talked with a lot of people about this class, and I'm confident the model is solid. If KhodeUp is successful this summer we can recruit more instructors and scale it.

This class is going to change lives. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Help me get these teens started. I’ll keep in touch with you so you can see what they accomplish. They can’t wait. Neither can I.

What We Need & What You Get

The 2014 pilot program is a four-week immersion class for 20-30 older teens at Future Light Orphanage outside of Phnom Penh. Students will learn HTML, CSS, and the basics of JavaScript and design. Our $15,000 goal will cover equipment, software, an Internet upgrade, web hosting, airfare, and room and board.

If  tax-deductible contributions outpace our expenses, we can provide  incentives for the kids to start their own tech businesses or to teach others, as well as a year-round part-time instructor to help continue the learning.

We are affiliated with eGlobal Family and FLOW Orphanage. Through the emotional and financial support of eGlobal Family foster parents, sponsored children are afforded the opportunity to develop into more confident and self-reliant individuals. For 10 years the organization has supported hundreds of children at Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia and has recently formed new partnerships with orphanages throughout Southeast Asia. These are not religiously affiliated organizations.

Ah!  Here's the fun stuff you can get with a tax-deductible contribution!  For just $25 you can get some snazzy stickers. I know I love stickers.  A mere $100 gets you a personal thank you note from a KhodeUp student.  For $250 you get a personal invite to participate in Demo Day at the end of the program, where you'll be able to watch our students present their final projects via Internet. (Pray to the Wifi Gods and don't worry, if you can't make it we will record the whole event and post it on our Vimeo later!) Those in the MoonMoon category at $1,000 can Skype with some of our students about their projects.

Kramas, traditional Khmer scarves, are  a fun perk for the Ermagherd ($500) and MoonMoon ($1,000) donor levels. These uniquely Cambodian scarves can adorn your neck, wrap around your waist, keep out the sun, and hoist a live chicken.


What's up with the .kh? People ask this a lot. Kh is Cambodia's web-extension. More importantly, "kh" is my way of signifying Khmer, which means Cambodian.  So that "kh" means this program belongs to Khmer teens. KhodeUp will give them the skills, gear, and continuing troubleshooting they need to start building websites for Khmer clients. 

What the heck is up with your donor level names?  Okay I'm an Internet meme weirdo, so sue me.  Yes, they're the names of viral Internet memes.

Internet explosion in Cambodia

The number of Internet users is rising steadily, however the vast majority are mobile users, which means less coding, more consuming!

Whaddup Facebook?

  • 1,200,000 Cambodian Facebook users in 2013
  • 840,000 of which log in on a smartphone
  • Every two minutes a new Cambodian user joins Facebook!

Fun Facts!  

Cambodia was the first country in the world to have more mobile phones than landlines. Each person in Cambodia on average owns 1.3 active cell phones, which means cell phones outnumber people. In 2013, 1M smartphones were sold in Cambodia. That means one fifteenth of the entire population got a smartphone last year. A whopping 98 percent of Khmer Internet users get on the net through mobiles.

Where will KhodeUp be located?

Glad you asked!  FLOW orphanage is located just outside of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

Other Ways You Can Help

Feel free to contact us at with any suggestions.  If you'd like to get involved we'd be happy to try to incorporate you in any way!  

Please share this on your various social media and remember:

"Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved."
Mattie Stepanek

Find This Campaign On
raised by 124 people in 1 month
141% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$15,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on June 22, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    Honey Boo Boo

    Thanks so much for supporting us! You'll get virtual hugs and thanks from all of the kids!

    2 claimed
  • $25USD
    Ryan Gosling: Hey Girl

    Yay! You get some cool KhodeUp stickers!

    10 claimed
  • $50USD
    Grumpy Cat

    You get all of the below perks as well as extra stickers!

    10 claimed
  • $100USD

    You get all of the below plus you get a note from a KhodeUp participant and recognition at the Honeybadger level on the KhodeUp website!

    17 claimed
  • $150USD
    LOL Cats

    Yay you get all of the below plus recognition at the LOL Cats level!

    2 claimed
  • $250USD

    Everything below plus recognition at the Doge level! WOW. So amaze. Much happy. You get a personal invite to Demo Day to view the final project presentations. (BTW I'm sad too that you can't donate in Dogecoin).

    4 claimed
  • $500USD

    Ermagherd! You get all the below perks as well as a krama -- a traditional Cambodian scarf, as well as recognition at the Ermagherd level.

    5 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Moon Moon

    You shot the MoonMoon! You get a private Google hangout or Skype with the class at some point during the program in addition to all of the perks below! You also get recognition at the Moon Moon level!

    1 claimed
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