In 2016, the Beamer ‘ohana brought ukuleles and hands-on music and dance instruction to impoverished children in rural Cambodia.  In cooperation with Mohala Hou Foundation in Hawaii and The Ponheary Ly Foundation in Cambodia, and with quality ‘ukulele generously donated by Kanile’a ‘Ukulele, this outreach program provided musical instruments, instructional materials, and presented a series of music and dance lessons for 41 Cambodian children.   

In Cambodia, children in rural villages face an uphill battle against poverty and limited access to education when compared to children in urban areas.  Many impoverished children in rural Cambodia don’t have access to money to buy uniforms and their school supplies in order to attend primary school.   The Ponheary Ly Foundation (PLF) provides children who would not otherwise be attending school with these essentials.

Once all the children from a village are present at their school and properly equipped, the PLF supports the school sufficiently to provide a quality of education that is equal to that which is accessible in the urban communities. Mohala Hou Foundation (MHF) is a non-profit organization that presents Aloha Music Camp (AMC) and other educational and cultural programs to foster understanding and perpetuation of Hawaiian culture. 

Through Aloha Music Camp, the Beamer ‘ohana and other Hawaiian Kumu (teachers) have provided teaching and cultural context in ukulele, guitar hula, olelo (language), oli (chant), and traditional Hawaiian crafts to thousands of participants of all ages over the years.  The expertise of MHF in developing and presenting cultural enrichment programs ensures the Cambodian children will receive the highest quality of instruction that is responsive to their needs and interests.

Our goal was to provide Cambodian kids with a way to enrich their lives and communities through the power of music and dance. Children will learn to better understand the essential connection of music and dance in other cultures, then begin to assimilate these ideas and instruments into their own culture.

To begin this process, our instructors taught the children Cambodian songs in their own language. By learning to play their own songs on their own instruments, then taking these instruments home to their villages, the warmth, joy and “aloha” of music began to spread and uplift the lives and hearts of their extended families.

It’s important to realize that many communities in Cambodia are without any modern conveniences and are often comprised of downtrodden and disadvantaged people. Our outreach program was conceived to make a big difference in the happiness and fulfillment of the lives of these Cambodian families.

In addition to the instruction and educational materials we delivered to the children, the educational experience we provided was intended to foster cross-cultural understanding and deeper bonds between our countries, teachers and students.


 

August 29, 2016 

Aloha Kakou! It has been almost five months since we brought the gift of music to Cambodian children.  We provided ‘ukuleles and instruction to 41 kids.  We were all so impressed with their enthusiasm for learning ‘ukulele–and yet we wondered, would they stick with it after we left?

That question was answered today with a Youtube video sent to us by one of the Cambodian teachers we worked with on this wonderful program.  The video shows our students at a recent performance, playing the instruments we provided and singing and playing a Cambodian song.  They have progressed so much in such a short period of time!  

On behalf of Mohala Hou Foundation, the Beamer ‘Ohana, and our group of volunteer instructors, I would like to once again thank you for your support of our program.  -Tom

 


Our Instructors

While learning to play the ukulele need not be difficult, it certainly helps to have world-class instructors. While several of our instructors are best known as guitar players, they are also accomplished ukulele players–in fact, for some it was the ukulele that first introduced them to playing music during their childhood, long before they even picked up a guitar!

Keola Beamer is one of Hawai’i’s premier singer/songwriters, arrangers, composers and Master Of The Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. His well of talent springs from five generations of Hawai’s most illustrious and beloved musical families. Keola’s mother was revered Hawaiian Cultural Treasure, Aunty Nona Beamer. His great-grandmother was one of Hawai’i’s most illustrious composers, Helen Desha Beamer. The Beamers trace their roots to the 14th century and have been cultural practitioners through generations.

Moanalani Beamer is a Kumu Hula (Hula Master)who began her hula training in 1960 at the age four with Kumu Hula, Johnny Hokoana. In her early years, she continued training extensively with several different Kumu in Hawaii. Through the years Moana has accumulated valuable teaching experience in the art of the Hula. Her sensitive nature combines her understanding of the technique with the spiritual and philosophical currents expressed in the Hula. Moana remains firmly committed to sharing her cultural knowledge worldwide.

Jeff Peterson is recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians. His passion for the guitar has allowed him to shine as a solo artist and has given him the opportunity to collaborate with a wide variety of artists from Hawaii, across the US, and abroad. He has contributed to two Grammy Award-winning recordings and has been honored with four Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards in Hawaii.  Born on the Island of Maui, Jeff Peterson grew up on the slopes of Haleakala where he was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, on the Haleakala Ranch.

Cindy Shenk has been playing the ‘ukulele for many years.  She is a member of Walter Kawai’ai’ea’s ukulele group, accenting the Kauhanu Lake style.  She plays at Pukalani Country Club with Honey Bun and the Coconuts on the Island of Maui.  Cindy brings a deep understanding of the instrument with a strong focus on early education.  Cindy has developed a gentle teaching style which will add immeasurably to this project.  In addition to teaching, she will help document workshops and performances in Cambodia as the students progress with their lessons.

Tom Lunneberg has been a student of Keola Beamer for more than ten years, studying slack key guitar and deepening his understand of Hawaiian culture though participation in Aloha Music Camp.  He has released two albums of original instrumental works,and has been an Artist Advocate for Guitars in the Classroom since 2008.  Tom is the current President of Mohala Hou Foundation.  


Sponsors

The Ponheary Ly Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the USA. Their goal is to locate and serve the many children in Cambodia who live in the poorest rural villages and do not have access to equitable educational opportunities.

The Mohala Hou Foundation was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in September 2007 to support and promote the teaching and sharing of Hawaiian music, dance, language, and culture. The name Mohala Hou (meaning “to blossom anew”) conveys what we believe is essential for the Hawaiian culture: renewal, growth, and revitalization. We believe that the perpetuation of “the aloha spirit” and many of Hawaiʻi’s other traditional ideas and areas of knowledge is vital to maintain the cultural diversity so necessary to the world today. We feel it is our kuleana (responsibility) to bring people together, both from Hawaiʻi locally and from the world at large, to allow for cultural enrichment by education in Hawaiian arts and traditional knowledge.

Kanile’a ‘Ukulele  is a Hawaii-based builder and seller of fine ‘ukulele.  Over their 24-year history, they have been recognized as an industry leader combining innovation with craftmanship across their full range of instruments.  Their core values are M.U.S.I.C (Meticulous, Uplifting, Sustainable, Innovative, Character).  Kanile’a aims to inspire joy in every ‘ohana through M.U.S.I.C.

If you would like to contribute to the next World Ukulele Program event in Sikkim and Bhutan please consider making a donation today. We appreciate your kōkua. Mahalo!