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Sunday, May 25, 2008

They're going to Cambodia with a camera

But many children around the world are being exploited for sex, according to Nicole Severson, who started a nonprofit organization to bring attention to the atrocity.

“We want to learn more about these children who have been sold into the sex trade — children as young as 3, some say — because we’ve been horrified by the research,” said Severson, president and founder of Saving Hope International.

The recent St. Cloud State University graduate will fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, today with a Web designer and a videographer to capture what they see and can learn about the sex trade there.

As of last year, the United Nations estimates 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh were younger than 18.

“Our goal is to go into Cambodia not with the mentality of ‘We know what you need’ but to assess what they need, to talk to other nonprofits that are already there and just kind of figure out what we can do and what our role will be,” she said.

Saving Hope International became recognized as a tax-exempt charitable organization in November. Its goal is focus attention on child sex workers and victims “to carry their story through imagery to the world.”

Sarah Stroschein, a St. Cloud State junior majoring in graphic design, and Laura Senko, a 28-year-old documentarian from Toronto, will accompany Severson on the monthlong trip.

“The research I’ve done is that the average age of a young girl being exploited is somewhere between 11 and 14 years old,” Severson said.

The 28-year-old from St. Cloud graduated with a major in nonprofit management and minor in photojournalism. She will be putting both knowledge areas to use in Cambodia, a country the group has not visited. The trip to Cambodia is the volunteer organization’s first major project.

“I lived in Mozambique, Africa, for three months in 1999, where there was a girl — one of many — whose home had been invaded by rebels and she was raped continuously over a period of time,” Severson said.

The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked globally. The highest concentration — 225,000 people — is estimated to come from Southeast Asia.

“I’ve gone overseas and seen the poverty and deprivation, so my heart has always been to bring hope to these children, which is why I called my organization Saving Hope International,” Severson said.

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Great Aussie barbeque may soon be made in Cambodia

Phnom Penh - They are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and a great talking point for guests - Australians may soon be throwing a shrimp on a traditional Cambodian clay barbeque.

That's the hope of Tom Drury of Thomas Imports in Sydney's Mosman.

Drury is currently advertising the handmade clay barbeques on internet trading site, but says he will approach large chains that show interest in going carbon-friendly such as Bunnings.

The barbeques are the brainchild of French environmental aid agency Geres, manufactured by mostly small and previously poor family businesses in the central province of Kampong Chhnang.

'I'm interested in Geres because they are involved with carbon reduction projects in Cambodia. I want to give a few dollars from every barbeque I sell to Geres in the hope of becoming a carbon neutral company,' Drury said by email.

Kimberley Buss, Australian carbon offset analyst with Geres, says the great Aussie barbie going green from Cambodia is exciting.

'I think a certain percentage, especially men, will always want their big, shiny barbeques,' she said in an interview. 'But they make a great talking point - every barbeque has a story.'

By redesigning the traditional Cambodian model so the grill sits closer to the fire, adjusting the number and size of the ventilation holes and keeping heat in with a metal jacket, Buss said the barbeques used 25-per-cent less fuel than conventional barbeques.

'It's a moral thing with a lot of buyers,' Buss said. 'And it helps people. There are two sisters making them at the moment who may not have had work before but now every time I visit they have something more - a new motorbike, new staff. It's great.'

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The Cambodian government has announced plans to re-launch.........

The Cambodian government has announced plans to re-launch the national airline, which was scrapped with massive losses on 2000. This time however the airline is being launched with the backing of massive Indonesian conglomerate Rajawali, and will be able to tap into the massively growing number of tourists to Cambodia.

Visitor numbers to Cambodia grew to 2 million in 2006, 60% of whom flew into the country. And with Cambodia being hailed as the new Thailand, because of its virgin white sandy beaches, and undiscovered tropical locations prompting a further 20% rise in tourism for 2007, it is hoped the new airline will be an added boost to the clearly flourishing Cambodia tourism market.

Liam Bailey head of international research for David Stanley Redfern Ltd gave his view on the possible effect the airline will have on the Cambodia property market: "New air routes are always good news for property markets, but the new Cambodia airline, and the likely increase in flights it will generate will be of special significance in Cambodia. The massively successful property markets of Malaysia, Thailand, and Thai islands like Koh Samui, have largely been fuelled by tourism, well in Thailand almost completely fuelled by tourism.

"But in Cambodia, property market growth has been largely limited to Phnom Penh, and fuelled by growth in commercial, business, financial and services sectors. The recent massive increases in visitor numbers, which will be helped by the new airline, will spread property market growth to other areas, and new Cambodian property hotspots will be emerging very soon - perfect timing given that the Phnom Penh property market is showing signs of levelling out."

Even though Cambodia property has been among the hottest for the past two years, it seems the surface has barely been scratched on the country's property investment profitability.

Find out more about Cambodia property at
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