Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sacravatoons : " The Jap-Observators "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sacravatoons : " Sacrava word "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Young Cambodians in fear of sexual slavery

8 June 2008
Nicola Kenkenezov

Every day, girls as young as 18 months are being sold into the sex trade in Cambodia.

The shocking news has touched Noosa hairdresser Leanne Naylor and artist Lyne Redfern so deeply they are focusing all their energy, and large portions of their personal money, into the She Rescue Home to help stop the suffering.

The pair are asking residents to support the cause by attending a fundraising garage sale tomorrow.

The She Rescue Home is a Citipointe Church Brisbane initiative started by senior pastor Leigh Ramsey.

Leigh and husband Mark founded Noosa Christian Outreach Centre in 1987, then moved to the US to pioneer the Christian Outreach Centre movement, before returning to Brisbane in 2000.

Two years ago, Leigh visited Cambodia and saw how young girls were trafficked into prostitution.

“Girls as young as five-years-old are working in brothels, servicing as many as 30 men a day,” she said.

“On my last night in Phnom Penh, my final meal was spent with a 12-year-old girl telling me:

‘My friend. She is 10. Two men tonight. Mother, father sell. You come, you help. Please?’
“For this girl, a rescue home may be her only hope.”

Lyne said the She Home project aimed to help children who were victims of a culture that encouraged women to have extra babies to sell off just to make enough money for their families to survive.

To date, four homes have been established, each caring for about eight girls. At the shelters they receive education, counselling, health care and training for a long-term job.

With running costs for each shelter about $4000 a month, Lyne said it was “not okay for us to ignore this worthwhile charity”.

She encouraged people to give generously to collection tins at businesses around town and attend a garage sale tomorrow at 17 Wyandra Street, Noosa Heads, from 7am-12 noon. A raffle will be held outside The Warehouse at Noosaville next Saturday, a Art in Park expo at the Noosa gallery on July 13, and a high tea is planned for July 26.

make a donation or assist with the fundraising and raffle, call Lyne Redfern on 0405 434 655 or email: lovely_ For more information, visit:

Cambodian theatre group stages Ramayana in Bhopal

WORLD CELEBRATES RAMLILA: Playing music on wooden instruments is Cambodian way of paying homage to the gods.

Thaindian News
June 8th, 2008

Bhopal, June 8 (ANI): A Cambodian theatre group enacted ‘Ramayana’, a mythological drama depicting the life of Lord Rama, at International Ramlila fair in Bhopal organised by the State Government.

The nine-day long International Ramlila fair was held at the ancient Ujjain temple in Bhopal for the first time. The fair began on June 6 and will conclude on June 14.

People from different religions, different cultures, countries are staging Ramlila but in a manner that is prevalent in their culture. There are similarities but there are certain differences as well,” said Pawan Shrivastava, Organiser.

Cambodian theatre group named ‘Classical troupe of Kingdom Group’ enacted the Cambodian version of the epic Ramayana known as ‘Reamker.’

In Reamker, Lord Rama is known as ‘Preah Ream’ and Ravana is known as ‘Krong Reap.’ Sita is called ‘Neang Seda’ and Lakshman brother of Ram is called ‘Preah Leak.’ The name of Hanuman is the same but with a slightly different pronunciation.

Cambodian group artists enacted the entire epic in a ballet; there were no dialogues in the play. Mostly women performed all the roles in the epic. A woman played the role of Lord Rama.

“In our country, Ramayana is very popular, even the children know the main characters like Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman,” said Hun Tha, a troupe artiste.

Cambodian culture has references of Hindu epic Ramayana from the 10 th century AD.

It is believed that Ramayana might have reached Cambodia through the contact with the South Indian kingdoms. Ancient Hindu temples there provide the earliest references of Ramayana and the world famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia depicts various episodes from the epic.

The fair will showcase different forms of Ramlila traditions of India and styles of staging the story of Lord Rama in south Asian countries.

Apart from Cambodia, groups from, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, Java, Laos, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh will be performing in the fair. (ANI)

Heaven And Hell In Cambodia

Sitting under the shade of a tree, on a hot day in the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, 15km from central Phnom Penh, I felt horrified thinking of the suffering of the thousands of innocent people who were killed here by the Khmer Rouge regime.

A tiny ant was walking on my arm. Without giving it a second thought, I brushed it away. It rolled over but managed to regain its balance. Immediately I regretted the recklessness of my action.

In ordinary circumstances, I would not have cared about the life of an ant. But I'd just seen more than 8,000 skulls of victims arranged according to sex and age under glass panels in the memorial stupa on the Killing Fields.

My travel partner helped me get the ant off my arm and lowered it to the ground. "There you go," he said to the ant and we watched it walk away.

Before setting off for Cambodia, I'd had visions of touring the magnificent temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, which I eventually did. Cambodia's intense history, however, left a stronger impression than I'd expected.

Phnom Penh Before travelling on to Siem Reap, my partner and I spent two nights in the capital city, Phnom Penh.

There we visited the Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which also bear witness to the horror of the Khmer Rouge regime.

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge overthrew the US-supported Lon Nol government, seizing Phnom Penh. In the name of its 'peasant revolution', the Khmer Rouge ordered the mass exodus of two million Phnom Penh residents to the countryside, where they were forced to carry out hard labor. From 1975 to 1979, more than two million of the country's seven million people lost their lives.

The Tuol Sleng Museum, formerly Tuol Svay Prey High School, was transformed into a prison by the Khmer Rouge. It was renamed S-21. A number of prisons, such as the S-21, were scattered across Cambodia. In S-21, some 17,000 former government officials and intellectuals were tortured. The prisoners were later transported to Choeung Ek and killed - most bludgeoned to death in order to save bullets.

We took a guided tour around the museum. A Cambodian woman guided us from room to room, showing us the metal bed on which the prisoners died. We saw the claustrophobic chambers made of red bricks inside the rooms, in which prisoners were kept.

Hundreds of pictures of former prisoners and guards were displayed in the museum. The Khmer Rouge was very detailed in their documentation, taking pictures of prisoners when they first arrived at S-21.

It was inevitable that visiting the two historical sites would be emotionally draining. It was important though for us to visit them to grasp the intensity of the tragedy.

The remarkable thing about Phnom Penh is that, apart from the two historical sites, the city has a fun atmosphere. Almost 30 years after the end of the holocaust, Phnom Penh is thriving. Old French colonial houses stand alongside the traditional Royal Palace.

Big land cruisers, as well as scooters ridden by youngsters, fill the streets. At night, as the air cools down, Phnom Penh residents flock to the parks in front of the royal palace and near the National Museum (this park boasts a dancing fountain, with dangdut tracks included).

After a bittersweet journey through Phnom Penh, we committed ourselves to a six-hour bus ride through the flatlands of Cambodia heading to Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor.

The construction of new buildings and new roads shows that the once still backwater is facing rapid development. Near the Tonle Sap riverfront, guesthouses and cool restaurants and bars flourish, giving tourists a place to relax after a long day of temple traipsing.

It would take more than a day to explore the 100 or so temples of Angkor, built between the ninth and 14th centuries, the time when Khmer civilisation experienced the height of its extraordinary creativity.

Staying in Siem Reap for five days, we chose the US$60 seven-day pass over the one or three day passes.

On our first day, we hit Angkor's star temple, the 12th century Angkor Wat, the biggest and one of the most preserved temples in Angkor.

The tips of the towers of Angkor Wat slowly emerged in sight as we neared them on a motorcycle-powered cart (tuktuk). I felt like I was in the mythical land of a children's storybook.

The wide moat surrounding the temple is breathtakingly beautiful.

Constructed by Suryavarman II, the Hindu temple oddly faces the west, believed to be the direction of death. The temple is thought to be a tribute to Vishnu, the Hindu deity the king identifies with, as well as his tomb.

Read counter-clockwise, the bas-relief tells various stories, the most intriguing of which is a depiction of heaven and hell where doomed souls are dragged along by devils.

Other temples in the complex are equally impressive. One of the Angkor kings, Jayavarman VII, reigned from the late 12th century to the 13th century. A Buddhist god-king, he constructed the fortified city of Angkor Thom, which is home to the Bayon temple and other structures.

The Bayon consists of 56 towers carved with 216 giant faces of Avalokiteshvara looking down.
Some scholars suggest that the faces may also be a representation of the king himself.

Some of the temple ruins in Angkor have been abandoned for hundreds of years and thus swallowed up by the forest. Tall trees grow on temple rooftops with their gigantic roots covering the buildings.

Angkor in the end does not only hold evidence of the extraordinary creativity of the ancient Khmer empire but also bears witness to the powerful forces of nature.

(By PRODITA SABARINI/ The Jakarta Post/ ANN)

Cambodian Girl Scout troop is at home in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Article Last Updated: 06/07/2008

PHILADELPHIA—At the corner of Sixth and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia is a construction site. You have to walk around a chain-link fence to reach the front yard, which is filled with rubble and a couple of hulking Asian dragon statues, giving you the distinct impression that whatever is going to happen here won't happen for quite a while.

But then, you enter the building at the south end of the lot. This is the Bra Buddha Ransi temple. And inside, you witness a subtle but profound transformation in the city's character, the neighborhood's identity, and the lives of seven girls.

Gathered in a circle on Oriental rugs in the sanctuary is Girl Scout Troop 971, the first, and so far only, troop in the United States organized exclusively for girls of Cambodian heritage.

Part of the troop's mission is to help the girls integrate their dual cultures "so that they're not too Americanized and not too Asianized," says Sophea Siv, whose two daughters, Emily, 15, and Sara, 13, were among the first to join.

Siv grew up pinched in the seam between two cultures.

Her family fled to Thailand from Cambodia in 1975 during the brutal Pol Pot regime and eventually settled in South Jersey. Because they were sponsored by local churches, Siv and her six siblings attended Christian services. But at home, they were Buddhist.

At school, Siv spoke English; at home, her native Khmer. Although she seemed like a regular teenager when out with her friends, at home she never dared challenge her mother.

"Girls must be very obedient," she says. "Very obedient. My mother doesn't give you dinner if you wear shoes or speak English."

Siv has ricocheted between both cultures most of her life. She studied mechanical engineering at the College of New Jersey and became a teacher in New Jersey public schools. But at 21, while her friends were all dating, she agreed to an arranged marriage to a Cambodian man she barely knew.

"I had one wish in life. Whoever I marry, I want him to be Cambodian, like my father." Her father was "eliminated" by the Khmer Rouge.

Now 38, Siv says she is still conflicted about her identity. With the help of the Girl Scouts, she hopes her daughters will not face the same struggle.

"It gives them a chance to learn about their culture and get to know other Cambodian kids," she says.

The Cambodian population is now estimated at 20,000 in Philadelphia and its suburbs, says Robert Koch, vice president of the Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association.

Koch, Siv's brother-in-law, helped form the Girl Scout troop last fall at a neighborhood peace march.

It was there that he met Ann Meredith.

Meredith, 45, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, didn't come to recruit, but after talking with Koch, she realized there was a need and an interest.

A month later, they founded Troop 971. By January, they had held their first meeting, and by the end of their first cookie sale had raised $1,600.

"The girls who need us most are middle school girls who are at risk in many ways. Self-esteem. Unhealthy eating. Risky behavior," says Meredith. "I see us as a lifeline." The need, she says, is particularly acute in immigrant populations where teenagers often feel they don't fit in.

The Girl Scouts has long been seen as the s'mores and good-deed-badges preserve of suburban white girls. At its inception in 1912, however, it was intended to serve diverse populations.

In the last few years, Meredith says, the organization has been trying to re-embrace that original intent.

Scouts meet with women prisoners at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Leaders have organized activities for girls in Philadelphia homeless shelters.

"We've been working hard," she says, "So that Girl Scouts reach everywhere, urban, rural."
And now, a Cambodian Buddhist temple.

Before their meeting starts, the girls of Troop 971 bow to the saffron-robed monk seated against the wall behind a long, low table. Then, armed with markers, they begin passing around a poster board, adding to lists of activities they were planning for the annual citywide Safe Night Philadelphia on June 6.

Under the heading "Community Service," they have: "1. Clean temple. Clean park. 2. Encourage recycling by making posters. 3. Food drive."

Their fundraising activities include "Writing name in Khmer." For a small fee, Emily Siv explains, the girls will translate your name into letters from the Khmer alphabet.

The monk begins chanting. He dips a white chrysanthemum into a silver urn, then flicks water from the petals at a woman kneeling before him.

"He's giving her a blessing. One of her children behaves badly all the time," explains Koch.

Part of the reason he organized the troop, he says, is to help keep his own twin 13-year-old daughters, Jasmine and Monique, on the right track.

At the moment, they are trying to arrange a summer camping trip.

"The 26th?" Jasmine proposes.

"I'm taking the SAT program," says Emily.

"How about the first week in July?"

Sara checks the calendar on her cell phone. "July 5?" "I guess July 5 is good," says Emily. "But won't everyone be tired after July 4?"

Her mother watches from the front door. "These kids," she says, "have got it made."

Cambodian kids enjoy last free breakfast as U.N. food aid ends

The China Post
Sunday, June 8, 2008

By Ker Munthit, AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Students at a rural elementary school in Cambodia enjoyed their last free breakfasts in class after the United Nations World Food Program stopped supplying rice and other food because of soaring global prices.

Besides directly providing nutrition for children, the WFP breakfasts have provided an incentive for parents to send their children to school rather than sending them to work in the fields or stay home to look after younger siblings.

WFP said Wednesday that the program will be resumed later, probably around October, as the agency provides US$1.2 billion (euro763 million) in new assistance to help tens of millions of people in 62 nations hardest hit by the food crisis.

Meanwhile, though, Cambodia educators must convince parents to keep their children in the classroom.

The principal of Choumpou Proek school, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) west of the capital Phnom Penh, said he has been meeting with village leaders and families to encourage children to keep going to school, even without the benefit of extra nourishment.

The free breakfast program in Cambodia began in 2000 and has recently been benefiting about 450,000 rural students. The World Food Program feeds almost 89 million people worldwide, including 58.8 million children.

Choumpou Proek principal Nheng Vorn -- who did not know the program is supposed to be restarted -- said his 612 students enjoyed a final free breakfast of steamed yellow split peas with salt -- but no rice.

The school's rice supply ran out May 27, so staff cooked the last 64 pounds (29 kilograms) of peas for the students, Nheng Vorn said by telephone from the school in a village in Kampong Speu province. The WFP also provided soybeans and cooking oil.

Even though the school is in a rice-growing area, the farms cannot produce enough of the staple to feed the entire community. WFP selected schools in poorest communities for the breakfast program.

The U.N.'s food agency said three months ago that breakfast stocks at the 1,344 rural schools under its program would run out before mid June, and stopped sending rice supplies in March.

The cutoff began after five local suppliers defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they could get a higher price elsewhere, program officials said.

The price of rice tripled in the first four months of the year as the world food crisis deepened.

Soaring fuel prices have driven up the costs of fertilizers, farm vehicle use and transporting food to markets. Speculation and increased consumption of meat and dairy goods in China, India and other booming developing nations are also considered major factors in the food price hikes.

About six miles (10 kilometers) from Nheng Vorn's school, Sangkum Seksa school principal Tan Sak said his students have been eating breakfasts of steamed peas with salt since their WFP rice ran out two weeks ago.

The school's kitchen will shut down next week when the peas run out, he said.

Similar situations were occurring around the country and all over the developing world.

In Burundi, Kenya and Zambia, hundreds of thousands of people face cuts in food rations after June. In Iraq, 500,000 recipients will likely lose food aid. In Yemen, it's 320,000 households, including children and the sick.

Most, if not all, will now benefit from WFP's newly announced commitment to renew aid.

Coco Ushiyama, WFP's acting director for Cambodia, said in an interview last month that it was "really a tough decision" to end school food aid in favor of continuing programs benefiting orphans of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, who are in "more desperate need" of food aid.

She expressed concern that the end of free breakfasts could reverse gains already made in trying to improve education for rural children.

Cambodia's economic growth set to slow down

Radio Australia

The International Monetary Fund predicts Cambodia's economic growth will slow by more than three percentage points this year, while inflation rises sharply.

With inflation at 18.7 percent in January, the IMF is urging the Cambodian government to build up its central bank deposits to curb inflationary pressures.

The IMF says growth will drop from 10.3 percent last year to 7 percent because of the downturn in garment exports.

While acknowledging the continuing robust economic activity from growth in tourism and higher prices for rice exports, the IMF warns the country's poor still remain vulnerable.

Under employment and low wages mean that some 35 percent of the country's 14 million people still live on under 50 US cents a day.

Cambodia sends off third batch of UN peacekeeping deminers to Sudan

June 08, 2008

Cambodia sent off its third batch of deminers Sunday at the Bochentong Air Base to take part in the UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan.

"Today's send-off is evidence of the willingness of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian people to provide essential security and support to those in conflict," said Douglas Broderick, UN resident coordinator in the kingdom.

The third batch consists of 139 staff members, 15 of whom had left on June 2 for camping work, said a military press release.

Ke Kim Yan, Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), told the send-off ceremony that Cambodia has participated in "the UN peacekeeping operation on humanitarian mine clearance in Sudan for the third consecutive year."

So far, Cambodian deminers have cleared 57,542,488 square meters of areas in Sudan, he added.

RCAF Lt. Gen. Sem Sovanny said that the third batch of deminers will replace the second one, who will return from Sudan to Cambodia Tuesday.

Along with consistent economic growth, Cambodia has also been seeking to enlarge its international military presence. It has joined two multinational military exercises respectively in Mongolia and Bangladesh, since peace was established in the kingdom in 1997.


German Government Offers Scholarships to Young Cambodian Entrepreneurs to Bridge Digital Divide

Posted on 8 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 563

“With the aim to support developing countries in their efforts not to be excluded from important global processes and not to be hampered in the use of new and resource-saving technologies and products the German Government has decided to offer scholarships to bridge this digital divide.

“One of the possible negative results of the lack of information technology related knowledge is that productivity in developing countries is by international standards declining and the achievements of the UN Millennium Development Goals may be jeopardized.

“The programme is intended to enable young entrepreneurs from developing countries to successfully start up an information and communications technology (ICT) business in their home countries.

“Konrad Zuse [the inventor of the world's first functional program-controlled computer in 1941] scholarships are worth Euro 1.200 per month and granted for up to one year. This sum is intended to cover all expenses incurred in Germany for medical insurance, accommodation, food etc. In addition the German Government meets the cost of air travel for one return trip to Germany per beneficiary.

“For all beneficiaries individual training plans are drawn up tailored to their specific requirements as well as the sector in which they intend to start up their business.

“The training includes an academic component as well as internships in German companies active in the same sector as the prospective start-up.

“Further information is to be obtained on the website of the German Embassy Phnom Penh.

“Deadline for applications is 25 July 2008.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6365, 7-8.6.2008

Cambodian parents' group to honor grads


LONG BEACH - Long Beach high school graduates of Cambodian heritage are invited to a Class of 2008 Graduation Celebration tonight at St. Mary Medical Center.

The Khmer Parents Association in conjunction with the Cambodian Association of America, the United Cambodian Community and St. Mary Medical Center will hand out more than $2,000 in scholarships to about 10 local graduates and expect about 200 local residents to attend.

Any 2008 high school graduate with at least one Cambodian parent is invited to the free dinner.
Appropriate business attire is requested.

The celebration, the brainchild of KPA president and activist Chan Hopson, returns after a three-year hiatus.

A French-school educated teacher in Cambodia before the rise of the Khmer Rouge, Hopson also sponsors Cambodian health forums in Long Beach. Education, however, remains her passion.

"We want to support them and motivate them to go higher in education," Hopson said of Cambodian students, noting that many high school graduates are the children of uneducated parents and have lacked to the direction of their peers.

"We want people to see in this country if you don't have a higher education, you're not going anywhere," Hopson said.

Today's dinner is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Parr Enhancement Center Building at St. Mary Medical Center, 1055 Linden Ave. For information call Chan Hopson 562-276-5888.

- Greg Mellen