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Monday, March 03, 2008

CNVLD Announces Annual National Disability Awards

The Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) (CNVLD) has caught the spirit of the Recommendations of the Second International Conference on Accessible Tourism with its new National Disability Awards program.

As part of its ongoing commitment to promoting the Rights of Persons with a Disability, the CNVLD is proud to announce the inaugural CNVLD Annual National Disability Awards recognising commitment to accessibility and support in the Cambodian corporate sector.

After signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability in October 2007, the Cambodian Government recently passed its domestic disability law.

Rising investment in Cambodia has also led to rapid urban development in the capital Phnom Penh. In response to Cambodia’s changing landscape, the CNVLD National Disability Awards aim to encourage local corporate sector social responsibility in Disability Rights and Access.

The 2008 CNVLD National Disability Awards will be presented for:

• Best Access: Hotel /Hospitality
• Best Access: Retail
• Best Access: Educational Institute
• Best Access: Restaurant
• Best Employer
• Best Corporate Support for Disability Rights

The CNVLD will assess the disability friendliness of some of Cambodia’s leading businesses based on a number of criteria including accessibility (entrances, steps, ramps, lifts, helpfulness / understanding of staff, use of facilities), positive employment and support for disability issues.

The inaugural 2008 CNVLD National Disability Awards winners will be announced on 1st September 2008. Category winners will be presented their awards along with the year’s best athletes by H.E Ith Sam Heng Minister of Social Affairs, Youth and Veteran’s Rehabilitation at the 2008 National Volleyball League Finals at the Olympic Stadium at the end of September 2008.

Award winners will receive unique a Cambodian trophy produced from destroyed AK-47s by Armed Art and a framed certificate. Award winners will also be provided stickers to promote their Accessibility Friendly’ status in their premises. Each winner will also be specially profiled on the CNVLD website.

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Small loans make a BIG difference

South Medford freshmen use idea from Nobel Prize winner to make Third World entrepreneurial dreams a reality

By Paris Achen

Lim Um, 55, wanted to buy a motorbike to help her and four of her seven children transport cookies and vegetables from their home 10 miles outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to sell at the market in the capital city.

Some students at South Medford High School recently loaned her about $25 to help her do so as part of a freshman world studies activity making microloans, small loans to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries with no collateral.

"It's awesome to be able to donate what is spare money to us, and to people there it makes a huge difference in their life," said freshman Kimberly Brown.

For the past month, the students in teacher Dave Lefkowitz's social studies classes have been making the loans online through Kiva, a nonprofit group in San Francisco.

Kiva participants loan some or all of the requested amount, and the borrower makes payments like any traditional loan.

Lefkowitz thought the concept devised by Bangladesh Professor Muhammad Yunus would be a good learning tool to connect students to other parts of the world, some of which they already study. Yunus won the Noble Peace Prize in 2006 for the role microfinance has played in helping to lift people out of poverty and provide their children with a better future.

"I'm a believer that teaching people facts is boring," Lefkowitz said. "For most of us, if we're not getting involved in society, we are only going halfway. I think you've got to get involved, and if we haven't taught students how to get involved we haven't done our job as teachers."

Lefkowitz's five world studies classes have loaned a total of about $425 to 17 people in Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. Another $170 raised by two students at a dance two weeks ago is waiting for distribution.

The students collect no interest on the loans. Instead, Kiva's field partners, usually small banks in the 41 countries, collect the interest on the loans in exchange for their services.

Kiva has facilitated more than 35,300 loans equaling more than $23.6 million in the past two years since its Web site was launched two years ago.

The average loan request is about $550.

As students scrolled through loan candidates on the Kiva Web site on a Thursday morning, the excitement was palpable.

The class selected Lim Um based on the number of children she has.

"Pay it," one student shouted, as if he were urging on his home football team to score a touchdown.

The class cheered as Lefkowitz clicked on Lim Um's name and typed in a credit card number to make the loan.

He also took the opportunity to review the characteristics of Cambodia, as the class has recently been studying the monsoon weather phenomenon in Asia. He quickly quizzed them on their knowledge of Buddhism, a dominant religion in the country, before moving on.

"I think doing this helps us learn where people are coming from and what other countries are like and teaches us to be more grateful for what we have," said freshman Kris Leitz.

About one-third to one-half of the world's population earns $2 day. That equals the price of a large cup of soda, noted freshman Jed Hamilton.

Teacher Joshua Wallace's Spanish class also has joined in after two of his students who are in Lefkowitz's class made a presentation about microloans. Wallace's class will translate letters between some of the Central and South American loan recipients and Lefkowitz's classes.

"That will take us one step further to see how the money is being used," Lefkowitz said.

Students said they were amazed to learn that poor people in developing countries have a better rate of loan repayment than middle-class Americans. Kiva loan recipients have a repayment rate of more than 99 percent.

"It kind of blows my mind because people in Third World countries have to struggle to pay these loans back," said freshman Corie Davis. "Those who don't have to struggle aren't as likely to pay it back. I don't know why that is, but maybe it's because people in Third World countries know what it's like to live without things."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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Thai PM visits Cambodia to strengthen bilateral relations

BANGKOK, March 3 (TNA) – Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej began his second official trip abroad, leaving for Cambodia on Monday morning.

The prime minister and his delegation left for Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, Monday morning on a two-day visit, after having made his first visit abroad since assuming the premiership in an official visit to Laos last weekend.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said the Thai premier's visit to Cambodia was aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries

Gen. Anupong Paochinda, Thailand's Army chief, who also accompanied the prime minister, said the main issue to be discussed with Cambodian authorities is border demarcation, which has not achieved much progress in the past.

Among the agenda items is the Cambodian request for a loan from Thailand to build a road with the budget of Bt1.4 billion (currently US$43.75 million).

Land development, oil and gas exploration in disputed, overlapping Thai-Cambodian geographic areas, are expected to be dealt with on the agenda, said Mr. Noppadon.

Speaking about the ancient Preah Vihear Khmer temple ruins, which Cambodia has proposed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for designation as a World Heritage site, Mr. Noppadon said Thailand can discuss the issue to reach a solution with the neighbouring country. However, Cambodia said the issue won't be considered.

"The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled (in 1962) that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but the move by Cambodia to push the temple on the UNESCO World Heritage list should neither affect Thailand's rights in the overlapping zone nor at the border," the Thai foreign minister said. (TNA)-E004

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Cambodia launches second post-war census

PHNOM PENH, March 3 (Xinhua) -- With a budget of over six million U.S. dollars and a staff of almost 40,000 officials, Cambodia's second post-war population census began on Monday, local media reported.

The 10-day census is a major undertaking, the Mekong Times newspaper said, citing San Sy Than, director general of the Planning Ministry's National Institute of Statistics (NIS).

Each interviewer will gather data on 120 families, he added.

Census officials have been trained and notified families that a census would be taking place, San Sy Than said, explaining that basic demographic, economic, cultural and social information will be gathered.

"We will also gather family-related information about residential situations and household equipment," he was quoted as saying.

This work will help identify the number and characteristics of the people and to estimate population growth from the village level to the Kingdom as a whole, he added.

The Planning Ministry will announce the preliminary results of the census in August and the complete data by 2009, San Sy Than said.

Cambodia held the first post-war census in 1998, which showed the kingdom had a population of 11.4 million people.
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