Sunday, 15 March 2009

Bio-sand water filters save lives in Cambodia

By agency reporter
15 Mar 2009

For Cambodians in rural Svay Rieng province, a little sand goes a long way in helping make water safe for consumption.

According to a report by humanitarian agency Church World Service, residents in 19 villages of Svay Rieng have been significantly reducing incidences of typhoid and diarrhoea by drinking water filtered through affordable, user-friendly bio-sand water filter devices small enough to place in a home or office space.

CWS has provided 1,216 of the filters to date in 56 Svay Rieng villages for use by people in some 1,900 households, schools, pagodas and commune halls. The effort is part of a multiple-solution Water and Sanitation Cooperation Project by Church World Service Cambodia that has benefited thousands of the poorest and most vulnerable people in remote rural areas.

The simple bio-sand water filters are a lifeline in a country where it's estimated that 74 percent of all deaths comes from water borne diseases. Despite advances in recent years made by Cambodia's public water utility in converting Phnom Penh's war-degraded water supply system into a model safe-water utility serving the capital city, rural areas of Cambodia still suffer from lack of clean water resources, sanitation, and related hygiene awareness and education.

Given the region's soaring inflation and the toll of the global financial meltdown on funding to aid agencies-- bio-sand water filters are proving a more affordable option for rural water problems than are larger, community well constructions.

Church World Service staff in Cambodia had initially planned to provide a certain number of wells and latrines in the Svay Rieng communities they serve, but couldn't justify suppliers' escalating higher prices for materials. Instead, they reduced the number of wells and latrines on their list and increased the number of much cheaper bio-sand water filters.

The cost for a typical bio-sand filter can range from US$15 to $20, depending on regional costs for materials. In the CWS programme, those who receive the filters are encouraged and given training to build their own filter devices.

Bio-sand filters are compact, household-sized box devices, usually built on a concrete base, containing a layer of gravel topped by a layer of sand. When water is poured through the top of the device, it's filtered by the sand and gravel. But it's the shallow layer of water remaining on top of the sand which forms a biologically dynamic wet film, or Schmutzdecke, that makes the critical difference-by trapping and consuming the microorganisms and contaminants in the water. The filtered water flows out through a pipe at the base of the device into a clean container for safe consumption.

Developed in 1990, bio-sand filters are increasingly being used by humanitarian agencies in developing countries. Research indicates that under optimal operating conditions and maintenance, bio-sand filters can remove most E. coli, worms and parasites, iron and manganese, and other toxicants from contaminated water.

Non-governmental organization Church World Service, with relief and development offices in Cambodia since 1979, was one of the first aid agencies permitted to work there after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. In 2005 CWS launched its comprehensive water, sanitation, health and hygiene cooperation project for vulnerable, under-served residents in two Svay Rieng districts near the Cambodia-Vietnam border, in partnership with Cambodia's Provincial Departments of Rural Development (PDRD). The effort is part of the CWS international Water for All initiative.

Bio-sand water filters are fast becoming star offerings. In Thmei Village, about 400 villagers- including women, teachers and 1,384 students at Kokir Primary School- attended trainings on bio-sand filter use and maintenance and clean water and sanitation practices.

Church World Service staff subsequently monitored 156 households and found that those drinking water from the filters experienced a significant decrease in diarrhoea and typhoid, according to CWS Cambodia Country Representative Josephine Barbour.

In village commune halls, the water filters are available to everyone. Reports one commune hall clerk, "Now our commune stop [sic] buying pure drinking water from the market. When we organize meetings or other events, we can use filtered water. So we can save some money for other purposes."

Villagers who had bio-sand filters now have spread the word about the dangers of drinking unclean and un-boiled water and other poor hygiene practices-and, at requests from their neighbours, are sharing their water filter like a fountain of life.

CWS, which also conducts agriculture, education and livelihoods development programs throughout Cambodia in concert with local partners, is now planning to expand its water and sanitation program in 20 more villages.

Church World Service is an international relief, development, refugee protection and advocacy agency funded by public donations, grants and through the support of 35 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations and communions in the USA.

Contributions to help bring clean water and other self-help assistance to families and communities around the world can be made online at:

Cambodia Expects Tourism Business to Increase 3 pct in 2009

Web Editor: Cao Jie

Cambodia still expects a top line of three percent increase of tourism business in 2009, even in face of the global financial crisis, national media said on Sunday.

Cambodia still expects a top line of three percent increase of tourism business in 2009, even in face of the global financial crisis, national media said on Sunday.

If the government takes adequate measures to counter the crisis, a three percent rise can be expected in 2009, Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News on Sunday quoted Tourism Ministry officials as saying.

However, if estimated in a conservative or even pessimistic way, the industry might hit its bottom this year, with a minus three percent rise, according to the officials at a seminar.

After all, the financial downturn has led to mass unemployment, especially in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, and much fewer people can afford overseas trips now, they added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Tourism Minister Thong Khon told a press conference that foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia dropped by 2. 19 percent in January, compared with the same month in 2008.

Cambodia received around two million foreign tourist arrivals in 2008, a 5.5 percent rise over 2007, but slightly lower than the government's expectation, according to official figures

Curing sick children is a complex business in Cambodia

by Ben Bland
Posted By: The Asia File
Mar 15, 2009

At the end of last year, I spent some time shadowing Beat Richner, the controversial Swiss doctor who has transformed children's healthcare in Cambodia while managing to alienate almost the entire NGO/international health community.

Playing cello concerts to raise money, he has funded and built five international-standard paediatric hospitals in Cambodia, that provide treatment free-of-charge. But his idiosyncratic approach has made him many enemies in the fractious world of international health (NGOs and inter-governmental organisations protect their patches just as aggressively as businesses).

You can read my full profile of Richner here.

He is a fascinating individual, who has demonstrated that one committed man can do more than many top-heavy NGOs. But his never-ending struggle to raise the $25m a year that his hpa foundation needs to survive shows there are limits to what one maverick humanitarian can do alone.

If you are in Siem Reap, I would strongly recommend attending one of his concerts and making up your own mind about him. If you are not entertained by his Bach cello suites, you can at least enjoy his fiery polemics.

A High Ranking Official of the Government Criticizes that Foreign Officials Interrupt the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal - Thursday, 12.3.2009

Posted on 15 March 2009

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

“A high-ranking official of the Cambodian government stated on Tuesday that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is at present being interrupted and hindered by some foreign officials. The Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, criticized that some foreign officials are making money rather than coming to seek justice for Khmer citizens. The government spokesperson reprimanded them, saying, ‘One case has not yet been finished, and they raise another case. This group wants to extend the time of the court proceedings for their salaries… Many of them try to oppose some of the court actions, so that it cannot proceed. Therefore, we think carefully about all elements of our Article 46, and nobody can block this court.’

“Moreover, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith warned that the Cambodian side might move ahead alone, if foreign officials continue to interrupt the process of seeking justice. He said, ‘We have many elements to consider. If no one does it, we do it. The government has money to do it, but we may do it alone, because the government cannot afford tens of thousands of dollars for the salaries for foreign officials. According to Article 46, as a last resort, the Cambodian government can do it alone, but first, we need to work with the United Nations and then with countries that are members of the United Nations. Then we work with partner countries, and if the third way cannot work, the forth way is that Cambodia will proceed alone.’


Further information about the history and some arrangements for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal:

Cambodia’s Position on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Presentation by His Excellency Sok An, Senior Minister, Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, President of the Task Force for Cooperation with Foreign Legal Experts and Preparation of the Proceedings for the Trial of Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders, to the Stockholm International Forum Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, 23-24 April 2002

Your Excellencies, Diplomatic Representatives and Participants in this third Stockholm International Forum .

Firstly, I would like to thank the Swedish government for making it possible for the Cambodian delegation to participate in this Forum, giving us the valuable chance to meet and exchange views with scholars, diplomats and legal experts from around the world. Learning from others’ experiences and sharing our own is a precious opportunity for us…

The Paris Peace Agreements of 1991 accorded political legitimacy to the Khmer Rouge and, when UNTAC left Cambodia in 1993, the new coalition government had to cope with the Khmer Rouge continuing policy of civil war and destabilization. We then launched a multifaceted strategy involving political, legal, economic and military campaigns, including the 1994 Legislation to Outlaw the Khmer Rouge, and efforts to encourage its members to defect and split. What Prime Minister Hun Sen has described as a “win-win” policy that has formed the bedrock of the political platform of the Royal Government of Cambodia involves five facets: “divide, isolate, finish, integrate, and develop” in which the Khmer Rouge political and military structure was ended, but those Khmer Rouge who defected were assured of their physical safety and survival, the right to work and to carry out their professions, and the security of their property…

The fifth compromise arose because the United Nations wanted the Law explicitly to exclude the possibility of any amnesty or pardon for those who may be indicted or convicted. According to our 1993 Constitution, the King has the right to give amnesty and pardon and we did not wish this law to contradict our Constitution. As a compromise we agreed to state in the law that the Royal Government of Cambodia will not request the King to grant any amnesty or pardon. Our Prime Minister and I have repeatedly stated that no one is above the law, and it will be entirely up to the Extraordinary Chambers to decide who shall be indicted or convicted…

But we cannot wait forever. Article 46 of our Law makes perfectly clear that, while primacy is given to United Nations participation in the process, if it pulls out, Cambodia is entitled to go ahead to establish the Extraordinary Chambers without the United Nations, hopefully with the participation and support of individual member states and foreign legal personalities, or in the last resort to carry out the trial entirely on its own.

[Bold face highlighting added during editing]

“It should be noted that recently, the foreign co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Robert Petit, had asked to open investigations on more former Khmer Rouge leaders, besides the five former Khmer Rouge leaders already detained in the special detention facility of the tribunal, waiting for hearings. However, the above request of Mr. Robert Petit was strongly opposed by the Cambodian co-prosecutor, Ms. Chea Leang, by strongly raising different reasons . [The US based organization] Human Rights Watch criticized the disagreement between Ms. Chea Leang and Mr. Robert Petit on his request, saying that this is political interference, raising the accusation that there is intervention by the Cambodian government.

“The investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not yet made a decision after the request of Mr. Robert Petit to investigate additional former Khmer Rouge leaders. In the meantime, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country requested the investigation of more former Khmer Rouge leaders, in order to seek justice for the victims of the Killing Fields regime. It is regretted that high ranking officials of the Cambodian government accused foreign officials of the Khmer Rouge tribunal of interrupting the process by requesting to hear more former Khmer Rouge leaders, to be detained at the special detention facility of the tribunal.

“On the other hand, last week, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal amended 27 points of its internal regulations, but did not consider any request by non-government organizations. This results in further criticism of the hybrid tribunal by non-government organizations, for trying to conceal information, related to the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Moreover, the fact that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal did not consider the requests by non-government organizations shows that the special tribunal is under strong political influence.

“It should be noted that in late 2008, many organizations submitted detailed requests for changes in the internal regulations of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Those organizations had said that their requests will lead to more openness: like allowing the public to attend, when those who are arrested are presented for the first time, and like the request to publish information about decisions how differences of opinion between prosecutors and investigating judges in the tribunal were solved. But during the plenary session of the investigating judges of the tribunal last week, these requests by non-government organizations were not raised for discussions.

“In a joint request by five non-government organizations, including the Center for Social Development - CSD, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, and the Cambodian Open Society Justice Initiative, they ask for solutions for apparent problems of interpretation between the Agreement to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, with the United Nations signed in 2003 with the Cambodian government, and the internal regulations of the tribunal. This request was not taken up for discussion during the plenary session of the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while an official hearing of Kaing Gek Iev, called Duch, will be held in late March. This problem creates distrust among national and international observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while corruption allegations at the tribunal are not yet clarified.

“A former US ambassador in charge of war crimes, and an important negotiator to establish the tribunal, Mr. David Scheffer [as ambassador, he participated in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia], said Tuesday that it was not sure whether policy makers of this tribunal consider to publish such decisions or not. Mr. David Scheffer wrote in an email that it is important that they should not conclude and express views in writing about such sensitive points controversial among prosecutors. He added that the 2003 Agreement should be consulted.

“Some of those who observe the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since its beginning said that this tribunal cannot help Khmer citizens, who have been waiting for justice for more than 30 years, to see the real light of justice, because since it was created, the hybrid tribunal, established together with the United Nations, had to encounter various obstacles, especially corruption allegations, which almost makes this tribunal to lose its value. In addition, attacks between Cambodian government officials and foreign officials in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal lead to further postponement the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Some analysts criticized that both the United Nations and the Cambodian government seem not to have the will to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders soon, and to provide justice to the victims who lost their lives during the Killing Fields regime. That is why the recent hearing of Duch on 17-18 February proceeded in a way which was useless [no explanation given why this newspaper comes to this opinion], and then the Cambodian side announced that it will completely run out of money in March. This announcement from the Cambodian side is a shame, since so far, not any Khmer leader has been prosecuted, while millions of dollars were already spent wastefully.

“Anyway, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country want the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders to be conducted soon, to find out who created the Khmer Rouge, and to reveal the reasons that led to the crimes where more than 1.7 million Khmer citizens were killed during the Killing Fields regime.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3709, 12.3.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cambodia loosen entry rules for Vietnamese

MCOT English News

HANOI, March 14 (VNA) - Vietnamese, Lao and Thai nationals holding travel warrants will now be allowed to stay in Cambodia for one week and travel within its three provinces.

The decision, made by the Cambodian government, is aimed at luring more foreign visitors and investors to the Indochina country, Minister of Tourism Chan Thon said on Mar. 11.

Accordingly, Vietnamese, Thai and Lao people holding passports are permitted to stay in Cambodia for one month and take legal means of transportation along with them.

Cambodia also plans to open new international border gates with Vietnam , Laos and Thailand to draw more tourists from these neighbouring countries, Minister Chan Thon said.

In 2008, Cambodia welcomed 210,000 Vietnamese visitors, 109,000 Thai visitors and nearly 61,000 Lao tourists, according to its Tourism Ministry. (VNA)

Family unearths clues to missing Texas soldier's fate in Cambodia

Mary Nolan, with son Rodger, believes the government should compensate her for the loss of her husband, McKinley, who disappeared in November 1967 while serving in Vietnam. “I should have been given a good explanation as to what happened, when, why,” she said.

Dallas Morning News

Saturday, March 14, 2009
By GREGG JONES / The Dallas Morning News

McKinley Nolan's letters from South Vietnam to his wife in Texas hinted at his anguish. He wrote of playing dead to survive on the battlefield and the suffering of Vietnamese civilians.

"He was just telling me how bad it was over there, all the fighting, all the killing," said Mary Nolan.

There was no clue of what was to come.

On Nov. 9, 1967, weeks from completing a two-year hitch in the Army, McKinley Nolan disappeared from his First Infantry Division unit. Communist Viet Cong propaganda broadcasts and leaflets later featured Nolan urging fellow black soldiers to lay down their weapons. The Army branded the missing Texan as one of the war's two confirmed defectors, but offered no explanation as to why Nolan deserted or what happened to him.

Now, McKinley's younger brother, Michael, has joined forces with a New Jersey journalist, a Vietnam War veteran, a New York City filmmaker, a Hollywood star and a Houston congresswoman in hopes of finally unraveling the mystery.

Their combined efforts last month pushed the Pentagon's MIA search unit, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, to act on an eyewitness account and dig for McKinley Nolan's remains in a Cambodian village.

Michael Nolan, an Austin wood pallet manufacturer, flew to Cambodia to watch the U.S. team chip away at the hard Cambodian clay. It was the latest stop in a long journey to find his missing brother and understand who he was: a deserter who turned his back on his country and his family, or a hero who stood up to the Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge and paid with his life.

The Nolan case has long fascinated POW-MIA aficionados. It has spawned such varied tales as Nolan quietly slipping back home to the Brazos River bottomlands of Washington County, Texas, to him living the high life in Cuba as a guest of Fidel Castro.

"In the world of the conspiratorial POW-MIA guys, McKinley Nolan is like Bigfoot," said journalist Richard Linnett, who has spent years tracking missing Americans in Cambodia. "He's spotted everywhere."

As a rifleman in the Army's 16th Infantry Regiment, Nolan was based in Tay Ninh province, near the border with Cambodia. His veiled references to haunting battlefield experiences are supported by a Pentagon document that shows Nolan earned a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge. Linnett made the document available to The Dallas Morning News.

The Army didn't respond to questions submitted by The News.

By November 1967, Nolan was one of about 500,000 U.S. military personnel in Vietnam. A poll that autumn found that 46 percent of Americans believed U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was a mistake. Black GIs openly questioned why they should die for South Vietnamese freedom when they were denied equal rights at home.

If McKinley Nolan shared those sentiments, he didn't tell his wife.

"If he had a job, he did it," she said.

But Nolan's commitment to the Army was flagging. He was AWOL – absent without leave – from Sept. 7 to Nov. 6, 1967, according to the Pentagon document.

He was jailed for two days. And then, on Nov. 9, the 22-year-old disappeared.

Mary Nolan said the Army revealed little about her husband's disappearance. Months passed before she received a letter stating that Nolan had defected to communist Viet Cong forces, she said. In January 1975, three months before the war ended, the Army notified her that her husband had been seen alive in Cambodia.

In 1992, a U.S. military team thought they had found McKinley Nolan's remains in Cambodia. DNA tests, however, proved negative.

Eight years later, Linnett, a journalist in Newark, N.J., stumbled onto Nolan's trail. Linnett was working on a book about a 1970 mutiny carried out by two crew members of an American freighter transporting napalm to U.S. forces in Thailand. One of the mutineers, Clyde McKay, sought refuge with Khmer Rouge guerrillas and was later executed by the communist group.

Linnett was searching for McKay's grave site in eastern Cambodia when a local resident pulled him aside. "Are you talking about the black man?" the villager asked. He told Linnett an intriguing story about an American GI who supposedly lived in the area during the time of the Khmer Rouge.

Back in the United States, a Pentagon investigator revealed to Linnett that the Cambodian man was talking about a missing soldier named McKinley Nolan.

"I thought this story was truly amazing," Linnett said. "This guy had lived with the Viet Cong and the Khmer Rouge."

Working sources in the U.S. and Cambodia, Linnett pried loose U.S. military intelligence documents and began sharing information with Michael and Mary Nolan.

In 2006, Michael Nolan phoned Linnett with incredible news.

"He said, 'Richard, someone saw McKinley in Vietnam,' " Linnett recalled.

That someone was a Vietnam veteran named Dan Smith, and he had contacted the Washington County sheriff in search of Nolan's family.

Linnett was skeptical. He phoned Smith.

A retired 911 operator in the Pacific Northwest, Smith said he had lost a leg serving with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. In 2005, he made one of his periodic trips to Vietnam to deliver medical supplies.

In the city of Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border, Smith encountered a black man, about 60 years of age, with rotted teeth and jaundiced eyes. The man told Smith that he had served with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967.

When Smith mentioned that he was going home soon, the stranger sighed.

"Man, I wish I could go home," he said.

"Where's home?" Smith asked.

"Washington, Texas," the man replied.

Smith reported the encounter to U.S. officials in Vietnam. After he returned home, the Pentagon MIA search unit sent an investigator to his home. Smith said he picked two photographs of McKinley Nolan out of a mugshot book.

Afterward, Smith said the investigator refused to take his calls. So did the MIA unit.

But Linnett heard him out, and he arranged for Smith to tell his story in person to the Nolans.

In the meantime, Linnett had piqued the curiosity of New York City documentary filmmaker Henry Corra. When Smith arrived in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas, to meet the Nolans, Corra's camera was rolling.

After a tearful meeting with the Nolan family, Smith vowed to return to Southeast Asia to find the missing GI.

A series of trips to Cambodia followed, first Smith alone, and then together with Michael Nolan, Linnett and Corra. What they learned convinced Smith that the man he encountered in Tay Ninh was another U.S. deserter who had assumed Nolan's identity.

But the search continued, financed in part by actor Danny Glover, who agreed to produce Corra's documentary on the search for McKinley Nolan after seeing footage from Texas and Cambodia.

The group tracked the missing GI to a village outside the town of Memot, in eastern Cambodia, where a man named Cham Son recalled Nolan's life during the tumult of war and Khmer Rouge genocide.

McKinley Nolan's missing years emerged from the mists.

When he arrived in Vietnam in 1966, Nolan was happily married, the proud father of a 2-year-old son. He was a friendly, muscular guy who loved baseball and horses.

By the time he disappeared in 1967, he had grown disillusioned with the war, said Linnett, citing interviews with Nolan's friends in Vietnam and Cambodia.

A Vietnamese girlfriend "convinced him to go with her," said Linnett.

It's unclear whether Nolan willingly worked with the Viet Cong, Linnett said. In any event, Nolan grew disenchanted with the group and in 1973 slipped into Cambodia with his Vietnamese wife and their baby, Linnett said.

In eastern Cambodia, Nolan drove a truck and farmed, local residents told Linnett and Smith. When the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975 and emptied cities to return Cambodia to "Year Zero," Nolan was forced to move to a village deeper in the jungle.

"Because of his size and strength, they made him pull an oxcart loaded with people being taken to an interrogation center," Smith said. "Villagers said he would beg for their forgiveness."

Nolan told jokes and sang songs in pidgin Cambodian to lift people's spirits.

"He would literally step in front of guards to keep them from beating people," Smith said. "McKinley was a hero. Everybody there loved him."

In 1977, the villager Cham Son recounted, Khmer Rouge soldiers took Nolan away.

"He saw McKinley being marched off," said Linnett, "and knew when the soldiers came back without him that he had been killed."

In April 2008, after hearing Cham Son's account, Linnett and his comrades gave the Pentagon's MIA search unit precise information on the suspected grave site. The agency still didn't seem interested, Linnett said.

Last month, after the Nolans enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, a JPAC team began excavating the site identified by Cham Son.

The team completed two weeks of digging in late February without finding any remains, said Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Perry, JPAC spokesman. Cham Son told the team as it was wrapping up that the terrain had changed, and he wasn't sure of the precise burial spot, Perry said.

The Nolan family and Linnett, with Lee's help, are trying to force the Pentagon to release McKinley Nolan's personnel file and classified documents on the case. Linnett and Corra are tracking leads that they believe will lead to Nolan's remains in eastern Cambodia.

Mary Nolan, now 62, has never remarried. She believes the government should compensate her for her husband's loss, regardless of the circumstances.

"I should have been given a good explanation as to what happened, when, why," she said.

After years of anger at "the system" for taking his brother away, Michael Nolan said he found peace retracing McKinley's footsteps and seeing him through the eyes of Cambodian villagers who revered him.

"Whether he's dead or alive," said Nolan, "I feel he would be happy that we're bringing the truth to light."

Moriarty’s medical missionary team made a difference in Cambodia

Buffalo Reflex

By Michelle Bell
Friday, March 13, 2009

“There is no single person’s soul that is more important than anyone else’s,” said Donna Moriarty, speaking to the First Baptist Church congregation on Feb. 15 about what inspired her to take a medical-missionary trip to Cambodia in January. Moriarty has been a women’s health nurse practitioner at the Dallas County Health Department for 20 years, and she also works in Lebanon in an ob-gyn’s office.

Moriarty, Buffalo, traveled to the southeast Asian country on her first international mission trip from Jan. 8-18, and her team helped treat more than 500 people in the process. The team — made up of Moriarty; Neila Kraft, registered nurse in Lebanon; Christi Wilson, family nurse practitioner in Lebanon; and Rick Howerton, associate pastor at First Christian Church in Phillipsburg as well as Christ in Youth, an organization in Joplin — worked together to help the “very patient and grateful” Cambodians.

American Rehabilitated Ministries was the host and helped coordinate interpreters.

Cambodia, known for its tight visa regulations, requires missionaries to follow a 50-50 law: 50 percent of the missionaries’ time must be used for humanitarian in nature efforts and 50 percent can be used for evangelism.

The team set up clinics in three different areas, and Moriarty used her expertise in women’s health to educate Cambodians about hygiene and ways to prevent disease. Although team members brought their supplies from the States, they bought most of the medications in Cambodia.

“Customs could have been tricky with a lot of prescription drugs,” she said.

Health concerns encountered in Cambodia were “mostly related to dehydration and malnutrition,” according to Moriarty, as well as the environment. The Cambodians’ drinking water is to blame for many of the ailments.

“The water was nothing I would put near my mouth,” she said.

The team also “wormed every patient we saw,” said Moriarty; however, they couldn’t do anything about some of the chronic conditions.

Moriarty said the team helped educate their patients about the warning signs and dangers of human trafficking, a growing problem in the area, and spent time at Rapha House, a rescue home for girls who are at risk of being taken into human trafficking.

Rapha House also teaches the girls various trades, including salon services.

“On our last day we needed to support Rapha House, so we got pedicures and manicures,” she said.

At each clinic the members ministered to the people.

“So many times you plant a seed, but you never know if there was a harvest,” said Moriarty. “However, we were able to hear that 17 people said they wanted to become baptized and follow Jesus.”

Moriarty feels Christianity could grow in Cambodia if more missionaries were allowed in.

“One of the main things I received from this trip is that their Buddhist religion takes and takes and takes and gives them nothing, not even hope.” she said. “Christianity gives them something back.”

Day in pictures

A general view of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, a world heritage site, during sunrise in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh March 13, 2009.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA RELIGION TRAVEL POLITICS)

A Cambodian vendor waits for her costumers while selling her deep-fried spiders at the town of Skun, about 75 kilometers (46 miles) northeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March 14, 2009. The town is well-known for selling deep-fried spiders to travelers who stop by on their way to and from the country's northern and northeastern provinces.( AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian girl demonstrates to travelers how to touch a live spider at the town of Skun, about 75 kilometers (46 miles) northeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March 14, 2009. The town is well-known for selling deep-fried spiders to travelers who stop by on their way to and from the country's northern and northeastern provinces.( AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Grim economy hits RI Southeast Asian youth group

Danbury News Times
By HILARY RUSS Associated Press Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Sophea Pheap felt ignored, alone and always one step behind in her old GED class.
She thought the teachers went too fast without making the difficult material any fun. And the 26-year-old daughter of Cambodian refugees said she just never fit in with the other students.

Then Pheap found the Providence Youth Student Movement, where Southeast Asian-American teenagers and young adults get paid $100 a month to attend classes every weekday for two hours.

"Here, I'm not shy," said Pheap who wants a better job than the one she used to have at a sandwich shop. "I'm a single mom, and that's what I need. A GED."

The state's fiscal crisis and national recession have stretched social service and noprofit groups thin, with a double-digit unemployment rate that has pushed already stressed families closer to the financial brink. But this group is helping give struggling Southeast Asian youngsters—whose families are often from war-torn countries—education, job skills and tools for staying off the streets. Some supporters say it's the one place they feel safe and welcome.

But the weakening economy is taking its toll on the group's funding.

Kids who participate in the group's leadership and community organizing program get a stipend of up to $400 a month. But those stipends, as well as money others get for taking GED classes, are getting cut by 10 percent because the recession has stretched resources thin. Staff salaries

and the overall budget will also shrink, said executive director Kohei Ishihara.
The cuts leave the group's new headquarters, where they moved in December, unfinished for now. While they have chairs, couches, tables and computers, they still need lighting, additional construction and other furnishings—small items that add up, Ishihara said.

"What's difficult right now is the anxiety of not knowing what's going to happen in the future," he said, adding that they've been getting letters from funders who are reducing and suspending grants because foundations' portfolios have taken such a hit in the stock market.

"A lot of kids who normally hang out in different places, they come to hang out in (the group) where they have self-comfort and they have each other," said Molly Soum, a counselor at The Genesis Center, which helps Southeast Asian refugees in the city.

Some members are young men affiliated in varying degrees with different gangs. But here, they get along, Pheap and others said.

The group's agenda is diverse. Operating out of a converted warehouse in Providence, it offers GED classes, a youth leadership and community organizing program, and a support group for gay and lesbian teenagers.

The group was founded in 2001 after several Cambodian-gang related clashes and killings in the city. Makna Men, chair of the mayor's Southeast Asian Advisory Council, called the younger generation "the missing link" to solving a host of problems in the community.

In the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Southeast Asia to escape the violent Khmer Rouge regime and civil unrest. U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2007 show about 11,000 people of mainland Southeast Asian descent living in Rhode Island. Advocates say the number is closer to 20,000.

Many struggled to adapt and couldn't relate to their increasingly Americanized children, who sometimes found themselves the targets of discrimination.

Ishihara and Sarath Suong, the program's founders, were roommates and students at Brown University in 2001.

Ishihara, 29, grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. as the son of a Japanese father and white mother. His mixed heritage made him feel isolated when classmates and teachers at his Episcopal high school couldn't figure out whether to think of him as white or Asian.

He disclosed he was gay when no one else at his school had come out.

Suong, of Revere, Mass., who has 10 brothers and sisters, was born in a Thai refugee camp after his parents fled Cambodia. He's the only sibling to go to college, though he had to drop out in part because of financial difficulties.

"My brothers and sisters should be able to get an education, should be able to hold police accountable, should be able to communicate with their elders, should be able to think there was a better way to treat each other," Suong said.

At first, the group tried to fight the deportations of several Cambodians, including some "original gangsters" in Providence, back to a country they barely knew.

"We created something too big to manage," Ishihara said of that campaign. "It was all idealism and all passion, and very little practicality."

Organizers decided to get serious, and the group became a nonprofit in 2004. They're urging schools to translate codes of conduct and put out guides that will help parents understand how to read report cards.

And they've criticized Gov. Don Carcieri for cutting interpreters from the Department of Human Resources staff. One group member called that decision "racist," prompting Carcieri's wife last year to compare the teenagers to suicide bombers and their mentors at the group to terrorist leaders.

The group demanded, but never got, an apology.

At a recent meeting, the two-dozen attendees were as diverse as the group's mission.

Some older, unsmiling men sat on a worn couch. One, arms crossed, never removed his sunglasses.

But there were also squeaky-voiced girls, teenage boys, parents and the adults who run the group's programs. Six members described their goals for community organizing.

Pheap, whose daughter, brother and nephew were also there, said she wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

"They really want this," she said of her fellow group members and classmates. "They really want to change their lives."