Spanning 90 hectares in central north Phnom Penh, Boeung Kak Lake is one of the only large open spaces left in Cambodia’s capital city. Prior to the recent evictions, approximately 4,000 families lived on and around the lake, with many depending on the lake for their livelihood. Families have been living around the lake since the early 1980s, when they returned to the city following the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. Most of these families have legal rights to their land under Cambodia’s 2001 Land Law.
The law means little to those with power in Cambodia and people are being offered way under the market value of their property to move knowing that if they do not accept they may get nothing and have the house demolished around them. Most have been given little choice but to accept knowing the recent violent history of forced evictions in Cambodia they are fearful for their family’s safety.
It is very sad to see this once vibrant and busy community being destroyed in the guise of progress, when everyone really knows it is about the rich getting even richer on the shoulders of the poor and powerless.
Being a ” Barang ” I have certain different expectations of government. Government is given power to work for the people and to protect the interests and rights of all its citizens, not just its rich and powerful ones as seems to be the case generally in Cambodia. The powerful protecting and helping the poor and needy seems not to have reached Cambodia where it seems if you have no resources you are less that nothing.
I wonder how many of the people responsible for this atrocity would like to find themselves in the same position, with few or no rights, and even those they do have being ignored because the ” rich ” know that they do not have the resources to fight for justice.
The people of Boeung Kak made a life for themselves, building on the strengths of the Khmer people ability to survive and come through by building a service industry for travellers, before the thought of fancy hotels was even a twinkle in the eye of the rich and famous. The community was rough and ready but exciting and cheap for those who visited it, they, sadly, would no longer recognised it now.
Vina Projects Saigon Geko’s Rugby Team were in Phnom Penh yesterday. The team is now sponsored by Vina Project Management, Saigon.
The Vina Projects project portfolio is growing rapidly and we have a number of large scale new developments and other ongoing commissions. Our highly experienced team has a consistent track record of successful project delivery across Vietnam.
Really the first time the team got (at the end of a hard day) to look around the village they had been working in. Lily was born in this village and gave the KIDS team a guided personal tour.
The team seemed to enjoy the walkabout and took lots of pictures and spoke with the locals. It was tremendously hot but a good time.
I met up with the Team and the end of the day on Tuesday having missed a couple of days of their work in the villages, but unfortunately the clock cannot be turned back so lets move on.
Kampong Cham, a sleepy river-crossing town renowned for its bamboo bridge built each year when the Mekong is low to give access to the Island where tobacco is grown.
Lily is the Khmer lady whose travel agency made all the arrangements for transport and accommodation for the team, she was born the this area and the team was to visit her village the next day (for a second time).
Lily’s village is about 40Km from Kampong Cham on the road back to Phnom Penh, but maybe 5Km of the road way out in the countryside. The team found themselves with much work to be done and led by Dr. Rich (Viper as named by the team) they went on to produce the goods.
Many children needed to be treated and had turned up to see the dentist. There is little or no provision in rural areas for proper dentistry as was seen in the children treated by KIDS team. Many extractions were needed and a number of severe infections identified and treated accordingly. The team is also seen as a provider of other services, first aid etc, as Khmer generally have little knowledge of self-care in these circumstances.
Fortunately a trauma nurse in the form of AIDA was available to give advice and simple treatments. Nice one HOTLIPS
This amazing lack of basic knowledge is not unfamiliar to me, I was a registered Nurse of 30+ years, as I give advice to locals in Phnom Penh all the time on things that a child would know in the west.
Everyone was working so hard but they still had time to smile.
Steve also known as HAWKEYE, is Bobs friend from Dental School over 40 years ago and they have not seen each other since graduation, although they did keep in touch. Steve was practicing in Sydney, Australia and Bob invited him to come on the mission. What an asset and I’m sure the student learned a lot from his experience. Thanks for coming STEVE !!
Steve also brought along one of the teams MASCOTS, Skippy called Kevin all the way from AUS’ to keep STORM company…
and STORM, how the kids loved him..