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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Danish support to Cambodian flood victims

Life With Dignity (LWD), supported by Denmark, recently distributed more food, water purifiers and mosquito nets worth US$55,000 to 1,424 families affected by flood in Battambang and Kampong Chhnang provinces.

This is the second time that LWD pooled resources locally and internationally in order to help Cambodian flood victims.

The humanitarian aid was donated by the Royal Danish Embassy, Danida upon an appeal for emergency relief made by ACT Allinace’s members in Cambodia namely LWD, Church World Service (CWS), DanChurchAid/Christian Aid (DCA/CA) and FinnChurchAid (FCA), all of which formed ACT Cambodia Forum.

The aid, which was administered by LWD in cooperation with DCA/CA and under the strong support of the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM), aimed to release sufferings of the flood-affected people.

As the aid was limited, families who were mostly affected by flood and received less donations to date were selected as the recipients. They included 743 families from 3 communes in Kampong Laeng and 2 communes in Chulkiri districts of Kampong Chhnang and 681 families from 3 communes of 3 districts of Thmarkoul, Ek Phnom, and Sangkae in Battambang.

Speaking at the distribution ceremony at Tapon commune of Sangkae district, Dr. Sam Inn, LWD Executive Director, expressed his sympathy for the flood victims and advised them to take care of their health during the flood, especially taking care of small children who are the most vulnerable.

"Despite losing houses, properties, and animals, please don’t lose hope. We have to overcome any difficulty caused by flood," he said.

"We will try our best to raise more funds in order to restore flood damage. We will cooperate with local authorities at all levels to explore top priorities in order to improve the livelihood of the affected people," he added.

Tom Barthel Hansen, Head of Representation of the Royal Danish Embassy, Danida, in Cambodia, said today’s donation was from the Danish government as well as the people of Denmark. “The huge part of today donation is the international solidarity of Denmark and Cambodia,” he said, adding that Cambodia faced a lot of poverty and political challenges, but Khmer people are strong to overcome these challenges.

He also deeply thanked LWD for channeling the donation of the Danish government to help the flood-affected people in Kampong Chhnang and Battambang.

H.E. Uy Ry, Battambang Deputy Governor, expressed his deep thanks to the Danish government for their generous support to help Cambodian flood victims. He also thanked LWD and DanChurchAid/CA for their efforts in managing the distributions.

At the distribution ceremony in Peam Chhkaok commune of Kampong Chhnang’s Chulkiri district, H.E Hy Nat, Kampong Chhnang Deputy Governor, deeply thanked and requested LWD to provide more emergency aid for the remaining victims and continue its support to recover the damaged rice farms.

Mr. Chhuon Vuthy, LWD Human Resource Manager, expressed his sincere thanks to the Royal Danish Embassy and the Danish people for their generous support to help the Cambodian flood victims in a timely manner. “Though the donation is small, this is the culture of sharing sufferings and helping each other,” he said.

Each family received a kit of 25kg of husked rice, 1 liter of cooking oil, 1kg of ionic salts, 400g of detergent, 1 set of 13-liter water purifier, 1 mosquito net for those who live in malaria-prone areas, and 1packet of Diarrhea Treatment (Orasel) for those who didn’t receive it before.

The floods hitting Cambodia since August have affected 1.2 million people, killed 247 people, and destroyed 230,000 hectares of paddy fields, according to National Committee for Disaster Management.
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Forget the Gold Coast: Schools leavers focus on charity in Cambodia

New breed ... Mosman High School students skipping the schoolies scene in favour of charity work in Cambodia include Ben Cope, Morgan Forbes, Claudia Snell, Chloe de Ville and Astrid Milne. Photo: Janie Barrett

Louise Schwartzkoff, Andrew Stevenson

AS THEIR classmates flock to the coast for a schoolies week of sunshine and mayhem, Claudia Snell and her friends will celebrate the end of school by helping the less fortunate.

With the ink barely dry on their Higher School Certificate exam papers, 19 graduates from Mosman High School will fly to Cambodia to help build houses for impoverished families in a village outside Phnom Penh.

They are part of a growing group of HSC graduates eschewing the traditional Gold Coast knees-up in favour of alternative options.

''We wanted to end our school lives on a good note with something we'd remember, rather than getting trashed,'' said Claudia, 17.

The Gold Coast remains the leading destination for school leavers. Up to 40,000 students are expected to visit from next weekend.

But overseas destinations, notably Fiji, are also growing in popularity. Unleashed Travel will send 2500 students to Fiji on seven-night packages costing more than $2000. Bali and Vanuatu are other popular destinations for some of the 60,000 students on the move.

''It's just schoolies. We only sell to 17 or 18-year-olds so there's no older people or 'toolies' on the island whatsoever,'' the managing director, Jot Lynas, said.

''You can party with people your own age on your own private island for the week and it's the same price as going to the Gold Coast where you can scrap it out with 40,000 other people, fights and drugs.

''We're international so it's very hard to take drugs with you. As soon as they leave the airport we sort them onto buses which take them to the marina where they're put onto boats and out to the islands. There's no opportunities to get hold of drugs.''

While they prepared for their exams this year, Mosman High students spent time raising $55,000 for building materials. Working with the Tabitha Foundation, a non-profit organisation which promotes community development in Cambodia, they hope to donate a community well and build 30 houses. They will help Cambodian builders hammer walls and floors for houses sturdy enough to withstand the annual monsoon season.

''At the moment, these families live in houses made from bamboo and palm fronds, so when it rains, they flood,'' Claudia said. ''Hopefully we can improve that.''

They settled on Cambodia because some of the students had learned about the atrocities of Pol Pot's regime in modern history classes. Initially, about 50 students were interested in the trip, but enthusiasm waned when the student co-ordinators announced it would replace schoolies week - and that two parents and a teacher would accompany the group.

''Most people don't believe we'd do this instead of schoolies,'' Claudia said. ''They were a bit shocked, but they also gave us a bit of respect. Everyone thinks it's pretty cool.

''We can go out and party any time. This will be something we'll remember forever.''
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