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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Austin Nonprofit Bridges Digital and Education Divide in Cambodia

Non-profit organization, WOWi, seeks to help end the cycle of poverty in Cambodia and build and connect communities around the world with a digital media project.

Austin, TX, October 02, 2011 --( In Cambodia today, three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, its legacy remains: over 30 percent of Cambodia’s population is under age 14 and uneducated. Nearly all of these post genocidal-era children work or beg in the streets rather than attend school. Without proper education this cycle of poverty cannot be broken and the suffering merely gets passed from generation to generation.

That’s something that Austin’s Windows of Wonder Institute, or WOWi, wants to end. With its first international project in Siem Reap, Cambodia, WOWi aims to bring American audiences together with students of the Tchey school, to provide technical training to these students and help raise money for the education of Cambodian children.

The Tchey school has a new computer lab and students eager to learn. A WOWi team, skilled in digital media creation and management, will go to Siem Reap for two weeks in February 2012 to begin training these students. The team will take along equipment, much of which will remain behind with the students.

During this visit, Cambodian students will be exposed to different types of digital media creation. One type involves making high definition digital recordings, some in 3-D, of selected architectural monuments in the Angkor Wat temple area. This is both a form of cultural preservation and a means to celebrate that culture in large-scale, interactive displays elsewhere in the world.

Another type of digital media creation involves the spontaneous use of social media to capture a complementary form of cultural record, one focused upon daily life as seen and experienced through the eyes of Cambodian youth. During WOWi’s two-week stay, this spontaneously produced content will be made available daily to a worldwide audience over the Internet. It will also be made available in special format at selected view sites in Austin, TX. These sites will include retirement communities and other locations with underserved audiences.

“The key to the project is the Tchey school’s new computer lab, and students eager to learn computer-related skills and digital media,” says Kim Smith, co-founder of WOWi.

WOWi is funding the project through Crowdrise using a donor technology so new and unique that it’s been trademarked. Investors of $25 or more into the project will receive MYtilesTM: virtual tiles that the donors can fill in with content of their choosing — photos, a graphic, or company logo that can also link to any internet site they wish. MYtilesTM can also be created by a graphic designer, or a Tchey school student.

The two-week team training will mark the start of an ongoing program that will eventually produce a self- sustaining, sophisticated digital media training school. Through the sharing of these two cultures - the horrific and beautiful aspects alike—the WOWi project is poised to accomplish something amazing: a total reversal of what the Khmer Rouge stood for. “It represents a true step towards returning Cambodia to its ancient glory, now through open global exposure and education rather than through isolation and brutal suppression,” says Duane Conder, WOWi’s Director of Communications.

About WOWi
The Windows of Wonder Institute (WOWi), a 501(c)(3) organization which comes under the umbrella of the Austin Community Foundation, uniquely combines ART + WEB + LEARNING to build and connect communities locally, regionally, and globally. WOWi project teams and the WOWi community create new types of interactive digital media environments that are designed to evoke wonder, insight, and a sense of connection for improving the lives of targeted WOWi audiences. To serve its project teams, its content contributors, and its subscriber audiences, WOWi supplies training and support, an Internet accessible library of thematic media, and the means to generate custom interactive displays.

Media Contact:
Duane Conder, Director of Communications, WOWi
(877) 992-6636

Additional Resources:
• downloadable version of this document:
• Media Kit & b’cast quality promotional video:
• shortcut to selection of native still images used in video:
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Boat capsizes, killing 4 in Northwest Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- A man and three children were killed in a boat sinking on Saturday evening in Battambang province's Ek Phnom district, some 291 kilometers Northwestern Cambodia, police said Sunday.

Yeam Bunlerb, police chief of Ek Phnom district, said that the boat carried more than 10 people to make sightseeing tour in a flood over-flown large lake in the district and when the boat was on the way home, it met torrential rain and wind, causing the boat to capsize.

He said that at the time, other boat operators had tried to help the victims, but four of them were missing.

The dead victims included a father Roeum Virak, 38, and his two daughters Roeum Raksa, 6, and Roeum Charya, 4, as well as his nephew Thy Bunthim, 8.

Cambodia has been hard-hit by the Mekong River and flash floods since Aug. 13.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday at least 148 people were reported dead in the Mekong River and flash floods hitting Cambodia from August 13 to Sept. 30. Of the dead, 52 were children.
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