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Archive for May 4th, 2007

A week is gone, so it’s time for another update of news out of Cambodia.

For starters, I posted two blogs on Kari Grady Grossman’s book, “Bones that Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia” on the International Adoption Blog. They can be found here and here.

Following on from Kari’s story that has its roots in the adoption of her son from Cambodia, here’s a heartbreaker about a child that may not ever come home. Amanda Bready, a refugee who escaped the Khmer Rouge and eventually came to America after three years in a refugee camp, and her husband Ben adopted their daughter Holly in 2002. Sadly, the suspension has trapped the family in hell and the child in Cambodia. Eighteen-months old at the time of the adoption, Holly is now five, and no one knows if she will ever be allowed to join her family. The parents visit her when they can, but can’t afford to take the two years living abroad required by the US.

As I said … heartbreaking.

And being all bookish, as I am today, I’ll mention another Cam-themed work. The very first textbook written by a Cambodian has been published by the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

The book begins:

Many Cambodians have tried to put their memories of the regime behind them and move on. But we cannot progress—much less reconcile with ourselves and others—until we have confronted the past and understand both what happened and why it happened. Only with this understanding can we truly begin to heal.

The History of Democratic Kanpuchea is available on line in English and Khmer, and the author, Khamboly Dy, says the aim of the work is to, ” … present the plain facts, as opposed to trying to interpret them.”

If you’re interested in how the first lot of Peace Corps volunteers are fairing, here’s a link to more than I wanted to hear about them. Complaining about barking dogs, crowing roosters and squat toilets, they’ve nonetheless survived their 8-week orientation.

Seems the drop in the value of the dollar has boosted Cam tourism by making it even cheaper for Europeans and others to visit. With the dollar the de facto currency in the country, people showing up with Pounds and Euros are getting a lot of bang for their buck.

Qatar has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Reach Out To Asia, a branch of the Qatar Foundation, to build schools and establish a vocational center near Phnom Penh.

And speaking of building, in an effort to boost investor confidence, Cambodian lawmakers have passed a bill that is touted as, “an important legal instrument and foundation for thwarting and cracking down on any attempts of money laundering and terrorist financing in Cambodia.”

The opposition is unimpressed, saying that one year in jail and a fine of $1,250 isn’t nearly harsh enough to have much impact.

According to the US, the country “remains vulnerable to a terrorist presence due to its weak law enforcement and rampant corruption.”

“There were no indications that specific terrorist groups operated in Cambodia (last year), but porous borders and endemic corruption could make the country vulnerable to a terrorist presence,” the report said.

On an it’s-looking-up sort of note, the flap over the fee for lawyers in the KR trials has been settled, so things are just that little bit closer to maybe moving forward … or not.

I’m not holding my breath. Here’s another link to the topic.

Anyone who’s visited the zoo in Siem Reap will probably not be sorry to hear that it’s closed. Seems animals were dying and disappearing in numbers, so the Forestry Administration shut it down.

And just because I can, I’ll end on an up note about how the hip and cool in Cambodia are joining the world by the thousands through the wonders of the Internet.

Later this month, on May 19 & 20, 5000 people are expected at the Le Royal for an exhibition called the “Internet Party”.

In many Phnom Penh Internet cafés one can find foreign tourists behind flat screen monitors and sitting next to them are Cambodian university students spending half a dollar for an hour for the net access. The next big thing for many Phnom Penhers is probably accessing internet at home.

Maybe some will link to me and give us first-hand news from the country. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

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