In the fall of 1997, a group of Boston College Cambodian-American students gathered informally with older and more experienced Cambodian-Americans, mostly Lowell residents who were orphans from the Khmer Rouge era. These more experienced guests had great success in the field of community service in Khmet communities in Cambodia and the United States.
To name a few, there were Tooch Van, a scholar from Cambodia; Arn Chorn-Pond, a recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award and co-founder of CANDO and CVCD (Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development); Seng Ty, then the Director of KCI (Khmer Cultural Institute); Vong Ros, a member of Lowell Small Business Association and now Executive Director of the Cambodian Mutal Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc.; Cath pierSath, a PhD candidate in Sociology and member of KCI, CMAA and CVCD; finally but not the least, Bunrith Sath, a songwriter and an excellent Khmer poet who currently works at the Lowell Community Health Center.
The purpose of the gathering was to explore and better understand pertinent issues and challenges facing Khmer women and young girls in today's society. The three hours plus discussion revealed there was a lack of role models, encouragement, education, support, and involvement among Khmet young people (both girls and boys). Inspired by the five Buddist principles of Love, Compassion, Justice, Forgiveness, and Peace, a desire and plan to create an organization that would provide a network of communication and collaboration among Khmer young people in the United States arose.
At the end of March 1998, this group met with other Cambodian-Americans to assist Botumroath LeBun, a Yale scholar, finishing up her study about Cambodian-Americans and Khmew young people in Cambodia. this time other Khmer merican college students in the New England areas, including Mob Chhouk, Thoeun Chan Huy, Mike Khim, Sara Khun, Tilou Kim, Meng Kit, Thnam Net, Chariya Preap, Soden Tek, Sodeth tek, and Sophy Theam, also joined to share their personal experiences. From there, an interest among the attendees to aid handicapped children and young people in general emerged. The participants continuously discussed of ideas of coming up with a plan to express their passion.
At least, in 1998 the group so far mentioned met with other yong people at Roger Williams park in Rhode Island which led to the formation of a non-profit and non-governmental organization Light of Cambodian children, Inc. (LCC).