Koky Saly was born in a temple, converted to a prison for pregnant women, where they kept his mother.
When the war ended his family escaped Cambodia and sought asylum in Australia. He initially studied at RMIT graduating from the Media Arts Honours program in 2004. He has received multiple awards for his photography and has exhibited his work in Australia and internationally.
Koky has also built five schools in rural Cambodia, which he continues to support through his work with BabyTree Projects – a non-profit organisation he founded in 2007. In 2014, he launched BeeKeeper Parade – a fashion and accessory social business. To date they have up-cycled over 20 tonnes of textile and fashion waste and funded over 3,000 places for children to study English in rural Cambodia.
Koky believes in freedom, in different, in a sense of humour, finding beauty in the smallest things and happiness.
We asked Koky some questions about how he has cultivated kindness in his life and how it has helped him on his mission to help others.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I like to make promises. Then I do everything I can, to keep it.
What does kindness mean to you and how do you apply it to your life and the work that you do?
I am someone who believes that we all have superpowers. Kindness, is just one of our superpowers. And it’s through the use of this superpower, by others, that saved my life. I am not sure I actively apply kindness to my life, like it’s a set of philosophies, or rules to abide by. It is a more unconscious thing that happens through-out every second of my day. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but being kind to me was learning to listen to my heart and putting my voice above the noise of the world, and whatever my heart said to do, I just do it. No matter how scary or illogical. It has always been right. Everything else follows after that. Once I gave myself my voice again.
How has being kind helped you along your journey?
It has allowed me to understand that to be kind to others and the world around me, I needed to be kind to myself first.
What inspires you?
People who throw everything they’ve got at chasing their dreams.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have ever been given is from my sister, who told me on the 10th of August 2012, “Koky, be more you.” 5 days later, no matter how much I held on to her, she left this world.
What is your #1 book recommendation and why?
I love reading. This will change depending on what I am reading. I love fiction and rarely read non-fiction. Anyway, my current recommendation is, ‘The Song for Achilles’ by Madeline Miller. It has nothing to do with being kind or chasing your dreams. It moved me because it was about loss of life and helped me understand that the most precious thing I have in life, is time.