Phnom Penh’s AEON Mall for a dreamer city

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Aeon Mall at the river side on July 9, 2014. Photo A. Rodas.

I visited AEON Mall today in Phnom Penh. Fortunately there was not too much rain in the city, so it was possible to move in my favorite urban transport: tuk-tuk (still I have to check the urban bus.) Entering the 205 million dollars mall, I remembered October 1999 when I arrived for the first time to Phnom Penh from Bangkok and then I could made a lot comparisons between two of the Southeast Asian capitals. Phnom Penh was a dusty town full of  thieves, beggars, electricity service was limited, Internet was dominated by a single poor service company, unpaved roads, odors from a nonexistent sewage system… Then, before this huge mall between Diamond Island (Koh Pich) and Sothearos Boulevard, one friend pointed to it and said “A big mall for a poor country.” In fact it is, but I don’t share the same intention of the announcement. It is similar to the comment of one visitor to my social communication section: “But these boys don’t see coming from poverty… they have laptops!” Sure, they have, because I have been promoting that they give value to education even in the middle of their poverty to be able to break their poverty circle.  Continue reading

Somaly Mam, a lesson for the media, NGOs and donors

The Cambodia Daily reported this Thursday that “After Somaly Mam Resigns, Trafficking NGOs Anxious.” I think that such anxiety should not correspond to transparent and professional organizations, because a honest NGO does not relay in fantastic stories like the ones of Somaly Mam Foundation, but in processes. Donors relaying their funds in processes should not be affected also, because they are already trained to receive objective results from the transparent organizations they use to reach the victims of social evils and poverty for years. Those donors that have been attracted by Hollywood-and-even-Bolliwood-stories-like will be by sure stop to give funds to organizations that relay in scripts rather than in processes.  Continue reading

Deaf Internet

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This month I got one of the most beautiful evidences of the importance of the internet in our time and how it is about inclusion. New technologies are changing the human history and it is not created for the power and enjoyment of minoritarian groups, but information and communication technologies are a human patrimony we must promote to reduce the global digital gapContinue reading

Minimum wage in Cambodia

The minimum wage in Cambodia has evolved since 2010 from 61 to 66 US dollars for garment and footwear workers, while other industries do not have an established minimum wage, according to different sources. In October 2010 the minimum wage was 61 USD. According to the archive of the US government, in November 2011 ‘to help workers meet basic needs like health care, the government awarded a USD 5 per month pay raise starting in January 2012, thus bringing the minimum monthly wage up to USD 66,’ it says. The labor code 2007 amended ordered a night shift wage of 130 percent of daytime wages. Garment factories give also a 5US health allowance. Please see this source for more details about legislation on minimum wages in Cambodia.

(Information updated on 4 September 2012) Continue reading

Japanese Aikido’s master to open club in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville. Japanese Aikido’s master Kaneko Shinichi, a volunteer based in Cambodia, will give a demonstration of this Japanese martial art at the Khmer University of Technology and Management, KUTM, of the city port. Aikido means the Way of Unifying Life Energy and it is developed as a practice to self-defense and protection of others from attackers. Pradal Srey, the Cambodian martial arts, is widely practiced in the country, although some foreigner martial arts like Taekwondo are present in the Cambodian post-Khmer Rouge era. In Sihanoukville, a city without an authentic sport vocation, there is already a Taekwondo club leaded by Korean Christian groups at the Leu Market. Kaneko Shinichi is going to do his opening Aikido demonstration this Sunday at 9 AM to promote the participation of young people at his lessons with a cheap fee: 20,000 riels for Cambodians, 60,000 riels for foreigners and free for persons coming from KUTM or NGO schools. Cambodians can attend Aikido lessons on Wednesdays at 16:00, 17:00, 18:00 and 19:00, foreigners on Fridays at 16:00, 17:00, 18:00 and 19:00 and KUTM students and NGOs on Sundays at 8:00 and 9:30. Number phone for more information 012.21.67.20 and 017.95.65.85.

Planning a major event

Looking now for scapegoats of the Koh Pich tragedy will not lead to peace at all. If guilty, all of us. Education, prevention and social discipline are elements that do not come out from night to morning. We should remember that Cambodia is a developing country and that we are three decades away from the nightmare of brutality and violence. The Koh Pich tragedy is a historical and sad lesson, but we all should concentrate now in avoiding the next tragedy. To do so, we must work in the formation of a safe mentality that is in general lacking if we just see for example how people drive a car or a motorbike in Cambodia. How to plan a major event? Let’s see. Continue reading

The relic of Don Bosco will cross the former Khmer refugee camps this Thursday

Last November 17 a curious guest arrived by plane from Seoul to Bangkok and visited all the Don Bosco schools in the Southeast Asian kingdom where the Salesian educational community has been working for underprivileged children and youth since the 1930s. Continue reading