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Origins & Becoming 

There is an urgent need for mental health care democratization in Cambodian modern society. Cambodian people suffered much psychological trauma during their contemporary history.  Auto-genocide, wars, famines, physical and psychological tortures, displacement, the culture of “omerta”, lack of proper education, poor vocabulary, a chronic absence of parenthood impacted not only the minds but person’s behaviors.

The generation who endure those sufferings are passing, unconsciously their traumas (PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression…) to the next generation. That trauma affects the abilities of a caregiver to offer a child proper psychological construction and mental development. Name as intergenerational trauma, these psychological symptoms are usually passed from one generation to the next via parenthood education and epigenetic. It is time for our country and people to take off social and cultural pressures on the subject of mental health and give space for individuals to express their psychological needs without being treated as crazy–“ឆ្កួត”.

Cambodian society should initiate changes and be more permissive to creative minds for open resilience as a means of cure allowing to transcend disability into strength.

Generation C Cambodia also has a role to voice out the inspiring story and people. Kyle Kao, author of ‘’Black’’ to join the event as guest speaker. Together with Adana Mam-Legros, they tackle the topics such as intergenerational trauma, mental illness, parenthood, and resilience. 

Kyle Kao


Black is a, coming of age, 240 pages memoir about a boy who grew up from childhood trauma in Post-Civil War Cambodia. It tackles the topics such as intergenerational trauma, mental illness, addiction, sexuality, and redemption. Black might be the first book written by a Cambodian author about the social stigma by using a memoir approach to shade the light and raise awareness among Cambodian Youth and Society about trauma and mental illness. 

The memoir separated into three-component that narrating toward the resolution of Black’s several mental breakdowns. The prologue portrays Black leaving the therapy session, while physically and emotionally drained. He then proceeds to walk toward what he sees as the end of his life. He has been living a double life, one that infinitely remains 6 years old, and the other that has never experienced it. The moment in the middle trail the landscape of his childhood trauma. It connects the boy he once was with a man who seeks redemption by trying to be someone else. 

About Kyle Kao:

Kyle was born in 1994 in Ratanakiri Province. He was passionate about art, especially writing. He came to Phnom Penh in 2011 to pursuit his University degree, which he later graduated with a Bachelor of Business and Enterprise Management from The Cambodian Mekong University in 2014. While he remains passionate about Art, his circumstances allowed him to try many different aspects of academia as well as the profession. In 2014 he was selected to be the environmental ambassador by The States Department to join the course in environmental studies at the University of Montana in The United States. In that same year his short story which was inspired by the Mekong River called, Water, was nominated and won the best fiction award from the Mekong Literature Awards.

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