Community reaction to the Koh Pich Bridge disaster

Hundreds of traditional Khmer offerings of fruit and rice were laid out with candles around Battambang in reaction to the almost 350 deaths at Koh Pich Bridge in Phnom Penh on Tuesday night. St. 1.5, where the Kinyei Cafe and HQ are situated, saw vigils kept throughout the night. Yesterday was the national day of morning and a moment of silence was observed at the Soksabike launch event.

By some accounts it was an avoidable tragedy. Crowds at the Water Festival have been increasing over recent years. As @chrisincambo wrote on 21 November, “I was there last night and it was insane. It gets bigger every year, to the point where now it’s starting to look dangerous.”

Kinyei Cafe to open soon

Renovations and training for the new Kinyei Cafe are almost complete. Housed in a two storey French colonial era townhouse, the Kinyei Cafe will provide essential hospitality training and work for young people at risk, as well as forming a space for open learning initiatives and social enterprise.

It all sounds a bit vague until you consider the projects that have already grown out of Kinyei’s activities and are set to utilise the space. Soksabike tours exposes tourists to traditional, rural Khmer culture and aims to benefit the communities whose concerns and realities it communicates. Seavyi’s Khmer-language social media workshops kick off this weekend with classes on Gmail, Twitter and Facebook.

Auxiliary projects aside, the Kinyei Cafe addresses keenly felt needs in the Battambang community, where poverty, drug abuse and trafficking combine to form vicious cycles of dependance. Many at risk young people have already benefitted from six months or more of NGO-provided hospitality training, usually without any pay, and are only waiting for viable work opportunities such as the Kinyei Cafe.

Based on the Melbourne Model (of first-rate cafes, not Higher Education), the Kinyei Cafe sports a pared-back, airy interior design, a blank space in which anything can happen.

Building the bar became a particular challenge after it fell off the back of a wagon and had to be repaired.

Getting the service space ready.

The kind staff at Gypsy Hideout in Melbourne helped to make a video tutorial on cafe setting, service, and barista skills.

K. from Gypsy Hideout demonstrates the perfect milk pouring wrist action.