The smile of Don Bosco above the fire

No fire will destroy our dreams, Cambodia!

No fire will destroy our dreams, Cambodia!

One thing you will be in contact everyday if you live or work in Cambodia is Buddhism and a Cambodian Buddhism that is more complex than you can imagine, but you get to love its philosophy, if you put a real attention to the people of the country. Because Cambodian Buddhism is at the same time very sincretic due to a millenariam history of natural believes, Hindu, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism that produced what is the Cambodian culture today.

Then I chose this picture to report about the fire of our studio of audio and video production to explain what happened and how we deal in Cambodia with problems.

We have many pictures of the fire, the firemen, the boys of the school helping around, computers, microphones, cables, air conditioning and others destroyed by the flames. But among all those pictures, one of the boys, the guy of the photo, stood and asked a picture for himself.

That is typically Cambodian and that is one of the reasons why I love Cambodia. That is also Buddhism, but at the same time, that is also Christianity at its best and deep dimension.

In every pagoda you will find the smiling Buddha, as you find a smiling Visnu or in Bayon the thousand smiling faces of the king toward the four directions of the earth. Then you find smiles when you arrive to Cambodia until you departe from it. This is the land of the everlasting smile.

Then we smile here even in the worse times.

The Buddha smiles to the evil, becuase He knows the evil will be destroyed at the end. Nothing can fire what is good, pure and hopeful.

In Christianity we find a Jesus forgiving his torturers from the cross, because He knows that dead will be defeated at the end. However, centuries of European interpretations of the Gospel produced a very serious Jesus, knowing that He was anyway Asian and it is very sure he smiled very often.

Then, when I see this boy smiling above the fire, I think in Don Bosco too. Reading his history and seeing his original photos, we realize how smiling person was he. And he should be like that after so many problems he endured to defend his poor boys from the evils of the society of his time.

The fire

May is a month of thunders in Cambodia. In Sihanoukville it is especial true. The morning of the 9th May, Saturday, was awaken by heavy thunders on Sihanoukville. It was like a nuclear attack on the port.

One of the thunders fall on the building of social communication and secretariat of the Don Bosco Technical School and set in flames the studio. It was destroyed in less than one hour.

Here it is our Cambodian answer: we smile, because we are not alone and we are going to do it again, bigger and better for the good of the Cambodian youth.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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