KhodeUp: Coding Without Borders

Remember KhodeUp? A non-profit startup cooked up by 16 year old Ming Horn that aimed to teach computing techniques to orphaned teens at Future Light Orphanage (FLOW) in Cham Chao, Cambodia. Ming’s entire knowledge of computers (with the exception of eight weeks at Twitter’s immersion camp Girls Who Code) came self-taught. She started coding in kindergarten and did website designs by age 11.

When we last featured them, they were in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign, with a goal of $15,000. That would then used to cover equipment, software, Internet upgrades, web hosting, airfare, room and board.

Fast forward six months, they have:

- Had a successful Indiegogo campaign (with a total of  $21,175 raised)

- Taught HTML, CSS, Javascript, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator over the course of 4 weeks to 24 students at FLOW

- Established a $5,000 seed fund

Geeks In Cambodia caught up with Ming, Founder and Teacher to these orphans, regarding KhodeUp’s recent progress.

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How has KhodeUp progressed since your successful Indiegogo campaign?

I taught for a month at the FLOW orphanage in August. During that time my students learned HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I had 24 students, half boys and half girls between the ages of 15 and 20. I ran two classes a day (12 students) for three hours each.

By the end of the month my students completed and presented fully functional websites for fictional Cambodian businesses. I gave each team of two a profile of the fictional business that included details like what the business did, who worked there, the customers, the user experience etc – things that they would ask during a client interview. Now we’re analyzing the post-program skills assessments and evaluating and changing our curriculum to improve it for the future.

How does the program at FLOW currently operate?

The KhodeUp program itself was only the four weeks that I was there but some of the students are continuing to code in a higher level web development program that is being run.

Currently, how many students are under the coding program?

I taught 24 students.  I know that there are 10 students in the higher level class, and there is a basic HTML class being taught but I’m not sure how many students are in that one.  My students are in the higher level class, however because so many of my students were the older ones, many have left to work before going to University.

How has the response of these students been?

The response that I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive, many want to go into IT as their future career, and if not anything else they have skills to aid their future jobs because almost all jobs require computer skills.

How are you currently corresponding with these students? And what projects are they taking on after your 4-week tutelage?

My students and I correspond mostly through Facebook, some are working on coding, many like to do Photoshop for fun though. I’m not sure what specific projects they’re working on now though as it’s difficult to communicate just because of the language barrier.

What are your future plans for Khode Up?

I’m looking to how KhodeUp can be expanded to other areas and schools in Cambodia, I’m also very interested in taking the program to other countries. We’re trying to figure out how we can scale and fund ourselves and recruit other teachers.

Being such an inspiring figure, do you have any words of advice for young aspiring startup founders in Cambodia?

The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and as long as you learn from that and grow then it’s not really a failure. Two pieces of advice that I’ve held with me is that: You don’t need to be an expert to make a difference, all you need to do is try your best. Second, “If you fail, at least fail spectacularly!”, Rem.

So really all you need to do is put yourself out there and not be afraid, if you doubt yourself too much and wait, whatever you’re trying to do will become obsolete because tech moves so quickly. Playing it safe won’t always be beneficial.

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You can visit KhodeUp.org to learn more or even lend a helping hand.