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Saturday, August 11, 2007

THIRD ANNUAL CYCLING TRIP THROUGH CAMBODIA RAISES MONEY FOR EDUCATION

PEPY, an adventure cycle tour and humanitarian aid organization, announces its third annual bike ride through Cambodia this winter. For three weeks beginning December 23rd 2007, a team of volunteers will cycle through the rural Cambodian countryside, volunteering at schools, teaching English and environmental lessons, and meeting with NGOs to better understand local development projects.

Prior to coming to Cambodia, participants will each fundraise $2,000 which will go towards PEPY’s educational programs in the area. PEPY has several innovative programs which aim to increase education in developing areas. To date, PEPY has funded the construction of two rural schools. They also run an English and Computer program, and a bike-lending program that offers bikes to graduating 6th graders so that they can reach rural secondary schools, often 5-10 kilometers away from their homes. In the past year, PEPY has started a library program aimed at increasing literacy among students, teachers, and community members. These programs are allowing a greater number of children to not only bike to school, but have access to a greater wealth of knowledge.

The PEPY Ride was formed in December 2005, beginning a tradition of bringing cyclists from around the world to Cambodia to visit schools and orphanages and spread the PEPY message, "Protect the Earth. Protect Yourself." Since this first ride, PEPY has led 15 volunteer and cycling tours. While biking across Cambodia, volunteers stop along the way to deliver school supplies, visit orphanages and teach classes on environmental awareness. To date, the PEPY Ride has raised nearly $200,000 for organizations supporting educational projects.

PEPY offers unique trips every year ranging from high intensity multi-week bike trips to week-long volunteer projects that focus on a specific development area. Each volunteer tour is designed to give participants an introduction to development work in Cambodia, with hands on experience, volunteering with the organizations their fundraising efforts support.

The PEPY Ride’s co-founder, Daniela Papi says, “Many people donate in support of development projects they will never visit, but with PEPY, you can go where your money goes. By joining one of our trips, you see firsthand the difference you are making.”

The PEPY Ride III will attempt to spread awareness on the state of Cambodia’s education and environmental condition, while each participant experiences an authentic cultural submersion through hands-on volunteering.

For more information, to make a donation, or to sign up for any of the upcoming volunteer trips, please visit www.pepyride.org .

The PEPY Ride is a New York State registered Non-for-Profit Corporation founded in 2005 to support educational projects in developing countries and disaster relief areas with a focus on the relationship between the environment and our health. PEPY Tours organizes volunteer and adventure travel in developing countries and redevelopment areas suffering from natural disasters. The PEPY Ride emphasizes education through action, where participants both learn from and give back to the communities they visit.


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Cambodia: Court Sentences 6 Cambodian Men Over Terrorist Plot

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: 6 Cambodian men were jailed for up to 12 years for plotting to bomb a crowded festival in the capital last year as part of a broader plan to overthrow the government, a judge said Friday (Aug 10th).

Judge Kim Ravy of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court said the plan to plant bombs among the crowd at the traditional water festival in Phnom Penh last October was foiled when authorities arrested the 6 men.

He said the bombings were part of a plot to remove the government. It was unclear how close the plan came to being realized.

The judge said he sentenced 4 men, who appeared in court Thursday (Aug 9th), to 6 years' jail. 2 other men were convicted in absentia and sentenced to 10 years and 12 years in prison, he said.

Tieng Vuthea, a Cambodian lawyer representing the four men at Thursday's hearing, said the charges against his clients were groundless and that he will appeal the ruling.

Earlier this month, in an apparently unrelated case, a Cambodian court charged two men with terrorism over a failed plot to blow up a controversial monument in the heart of the capital.

Police arrested the two on July 30th, a day after explosive disposal experts defused bombs planted at Phnom Penh's Cambodia-Vietnam friendship monument. Critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government say the monument shows too much closeness to neighboring Vietnam, Cambodia's traditional enemy.

The most violent terrorist incident to shake the Cambodian capital in recent years occurred on Nov 24th, 2000, when attackers with grenades and machine guns mounted pre-dawn assaults on government buildings in Phnom Penh. The rebels were easily overwhelmed by government forces, and 6 attackers and a civilian bystander were killed.

The attack was allegedly organized by a California-based group called the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, who are opposed to Hun Sen's regime. Dozens of its followers were tried and convicted over the incident, receiving sentences ranging from 3 years to life in prison. (AP.
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Police group presents $11,000 check to family of slain San Jose woman

By Jessie Mangaliman and Sean Webby

One note on an index card said, "I wish I can afford to give more." Another card in the giant stack said, "My deepest sorrow for your loss." Sokhim Sann, standing outside her East San Jose home, clutched them all to her chest and fought back the tears.

In the weeks since Sann's niece Sany San, 46, was slain in what police say is one of San Jose's most horrific attacks in recent years, kind wishes and checks had been flooding the San Jose Police Officers Association. Friday morning, association officials presented Sann with the cards and, in a flooring gesture, a check for $11,000.

"I'm moved and happy that people care," Sann said, accepting the donation on behalf of her sister, Muykeh Him, 64, San's mother, who lives in western Cambodia.

Bobby Lopez, president of the police association, said his organization received hundreds of donations, from $5 to $100, many of them accompanied by handwritten notes. The San Jose woman's shocking death touched a nerve throughout the community. In addition to the outpouring of generosity, hundreds of people also turned out for San's memorial service late last month.

"Cops don't just leave the scene of a crime," Lopez said. "We have compassion. We have to be able as human beings to provide and give something back to the city."

Sann's 26-year-old son, Dararith Kim, said the money will be wired to San's ailing mother, and two siblings in Cambodia - a sister, Sochiata Him, 30, and a brother, Chancoma Him, 28

who live in a decrepit farmhouse in Battambang, in western Cambodia. The siblings are seasonal farm workers. The money will pay for health care for San's mother, and improvements to the farmhouse, Kim said.

San, a seamstress, emigrated from Cambodia four years ago to earn a better living for her impoverished family. Her dream, Kim said, was to save enough to help her family pay for home improvements.

San had survived the genocidal rampage of the Khmer Rouge - a regime that killed 3 million people in the 1970s. But her family, like many in Cambodia, endured great hardships, including starvation and death in forced-labor camps. San's father and four of her siblings died during the Khmer Rouge rule, which ended in 1979.

Early July 22, a Sunday, San was walking from her aunt's house in East San Jose, on her way to catch a bus to her job at a doughnut shop near Palo Alto. Police say two homeless men approached her, looking to rob her. The men then beat and dragged her behind bushes, raped her, then stabbed her repeatedly, leaving her to die, police said.

Two men are in custody, awaiting a hearing on charges of kidnapping, murder and rape.

"This is one of the most violent and senseless crimes we've seen in years," Lopez said. "People care very much about what happened."

For that reason, Lopez said, the association, which represents San Jose's police officers and has raised more than $100,000 on behalf of victims since 2006, chose to collect money for San's family. The Santa Clara County Victim Witness Assistance Center also pitched in $7,500, to help with funeral expenses.

"We don't know where we would be if people had not helped us," Kim said. "It's just overwhelming for me and my mother, and we can't say enough thank yous to everyone who helped."
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