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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Friends Without A Border's Gala Honors Cambodian Genocide Refugee and Peace Activist

By Friends Without A Border
Friends Without A Border

NEW YORK, April 4, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Friends Without A Border (Friends) announces that its 10th Annual Gala will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2012 (6 to 9:30 p.m.) at Espace, 635 West 42nd St., New York City. The recipient of this year's Healing Cambodia Award is child of war turned man of peace, Arn Chorn-Pond.

Based in New York, with chapters in Canada, Japan, and France, Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization which raises awareness and funds to support Angkor Hospital for Children, a leading pediatric hospital in post-genocide Cambodia. Founded in 1996 by photographer Kenro Izu, Friends raised the funds to construct AHC in February 1999 and continues to raise millions each year for pediatric healthcare in Cambodia. AHC is internationally respected for quality, compassionate care provided to more than 125,000 sick, malnourished, and impoverished children annually. Since 1999, AHC has treated more than 1,000,000 children.

When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, nine-year-old Arn and hundreds of other children were sent to Wat Ek, a Buddhist temple converted into a prison camp, where he survived by playing the flute to entertain the soldiers. In five days, a master trained Arn and four other children to play the flute and the khim, a Cambodian dulcimer. At the end of that time, Arn and another boy were chosen to play propaganda songs for the camp guards; the other three children and the master were led away and killed. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1978, Arn was handed a gun and forced to fight: "The Khmer Rouge gave us guns and pushed us into the front line. Children who refused were shot in the head."

Arn Chorn-Pond has helped to restore artistic traditions to a brutalized nation. As founder of Cambodian Living Arts, he sparked a renewal of the country's artistic expressions and revitalized its dying art forms. Against the grim backdrop of a nearly extinguished Khmer identity, his unique leadership through art and music continues to bring healing to millions. Arn Chorn-Pond is also co-founder of Children of War, and of the Southeast Asian Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association of Providence RI. He later served as director of Youth Programs for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell, Massachusetts, and as special advisor on Cambodian affairs for Clear Path International. Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development, which he founded in 1993, organizes community rebuilding projects and has enrolled more than 100,000 young members in community service. He is the recipient of the Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Citizen Award, Amnesty International Human Rights Award, and the Reebok Human Rights Award, among others. A biographical novel about Arn Chorn-Pond, Never Fall Down, will be published in May 2012 by HarperCollins.

"It is a true pleasure for Abbott and Abbott Fund to join Friends Without A Border and many others in honoring Arn Chorn-Pond for his incomparable contribution to Cambodia and Cambodians overseas," said Katherine Pickus, Divisional Vice President, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott. "We're also proud to share a broader commitment to advancing the health of children in Cambodia and countries around the world."

As 1 of only 5 teaching hospitals in Cambodia, AHC has trained thousands of Khmer nurses and doctors as part of its mission to help rebuild the nation's healthcare infrastructure. Outreach programs instill preventive health, nutrition, and hygiene practices among rural residents and upgrade health centers. Its Homecare program is the largest hospital-based pediatric HIV antiretroviral therapy program outside the nation's capital, Phnom Penh.


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