Young journalism in Cambodia

At the end of November I had the visit of EFE’s reporter Laura Villadiego, who came to know my project of social communication and journalism in the Don Bosco Technical School of Sihanoukville. She wrote an article about the experience, underlining the fact that journalism is taught in a country that has been criticized for events that put the freedom of press under risk. At the same time, it is an experience directed to young people from underprivileged communities.

 

After the publication of the article in EFE, some means of communication of radio, press and television, especially from Spain, Colombia and Mexico, reproduced the EFE’s article and some of them called me. At the time, I did not want to make mention of it in my blog not to seem boastful. But now I remember that this project is not made in order to put up my name at all, but to put up the name of my students, especially those who come from marginal places of Cambodia. It is to them that we dedicate this project of communication, because they must be formed in responsibility in order to manage the media, to have a professional behavior with information for the development of their nation, for the education and formation of values to reach unprivileged communities and to invite the rich families to work for the development of all Cambodians, so everyone has the same opportunities.

At the other hand, I am happy for my own country, Colombia, that feels involved in a project of education like this one. Because it is also an opportunity to demonstrate that we Colombians have talents to put at the service of humanity. Moreover from Colombia where journalism has been also victimized many times and in several occasions with impunity. The same for Latin America and Spain, the Spanish world, my Great Country, I feel happy that they can know an experience of communication like this.

I hope that I will be able to continue in the development of this space in Cambodia. It has not been easy and it will be not easy at all. Sometimes I find indifference from the same Cambodian media, especially when the students have to apply for a job. In some media, those who are engaged in the job of information, must have a godfather. You can see in several television programs too many unprofessional beauties doing the presenter or the reporter, but with an evident lack of formation in communication and reporting. Trying to link the experience with another journalism and communication schools in Cambodia, private and officials, has been also difficult. Too busy to put us attention, to visit our place, to know our experience, our audiovisual studios, our web development laboratory.

Things grow with constance and patience. We have our projects, all thinking in the Cambodian children and youth. For example, every student works on the Internet in Khmer language, using Khmer Unicode, translating from other languages important documents of history, geography, culture, literature, through Internet platforms like Khmer Wikipedia where we have already a big club, some of us being administrators (see Category:Sala DonBosco); blogs in Blogspot and WordPress, all about culture, history, mathematics, astronomy, literature, biographies, international news, etc; my students learn how to use the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Tagged, etc, in a formative way (see for example our group in Facebook); the production of videos and audios that we promote through Youtube, Vimeo, Box.net, etc., all about education (see one of our Youtube channels.)

Thanks to all the journalists in the Spanish world that gave attention to our journalist school in November, especially Miss Laura Villadiego, who is reporter of EFE, the Spanish news agency. Thanks also to all the volunteers who have come from their countries to help me in the development of the project. And thanks to all my students who motivate me to continue. They are the reason of my work and my love for Cambodia.

I translated here the article of John Eric Gómez Marín of El Colombiano Newspaper of Medellín, my city. It is one of the good consequences of the article of Laura. About the the tragedy of the 2010 Water Festival, Eric says that there were more than 400 dead, but it was written before the official statement.

Albeiro is a maker of leaders in Cambodia

Albeiro Rodas is a Paisa¹journalist of 40 years old, who does homeland in a foreign land. Cambodia is a country little known in this part of the world and it was involved in a tragedy some days ago with the death of more than 400 persons in a human stampede.

This Paisa was grown in Barrio 12 de Octubre of Medellín, the same date that he arrived to that country in 1999.

‘I arrived on October 12. That is a meaningful date, not only because it marks the encounter between the American world with the European, but because I was grown in Barrio 12 de Octubre of Medellín,’ he says.

Albeiro finished studies of social communication and journalism in the Pontifical Bolivarian University in 1995 and he decided to join the Salesians of Don Bosco.

‘I asked to be a missionary in Asia.’

In 1999 they sent him to Cambodia in a phase of cultural adaptation. In 2001 he was moved to Israel to finish theology and in 2005 he was ordained in Medellín.

‘I returned to Cambodia. But the journalism is always present in my life and I united the educative work in this country to that profession as an instrument of development,’ he relates.

Today is a maker of talent with one objective as he himself explains:

‘to make leaders of communication for Cambodia, those coming from the poorest, farmers, orphans, to say, those who are traditionally out of the links of communication.’

However, through his institutions, Albeiro proposes a condition: the youth that finishes the two years of formation, must be ready to help in the development of their country. But it is not only about a material development, but a humanist one, integral, sustainable, one that respects deeply the human being, that integrates the ecology in a country with great natural resources, but endangered by consumerism and ambition.

A complex country

Albeiro says that the Cambodia of today is confusing.

‘It is doubtless a country that is the result of the tragic wars that devastated it in the 1970s and 1980s. It is a country that wants development, but that has created deep social divisions,’ he comments.

He says that although being at the other side of the world, he keeps in contact with Colombia by Internet and he misses the people, its way of being, its diversity and optimism that Colombians have even in difficult moments.

He is conscious that journalism will not stop poverty, but will give better opportunities in life for the young.

‘We have to overcome poverty through purposes. Everyone can overcome poverty if there is a purpose. The human intelligence must be challenged everyday.’

The young people who come to Albeiro arrive from rural areas. They have fears, many of them do not believe in themselves, but in few months they become men full of initiatives and creativity.

The Paisa journalist says that some of his ‘boys’ have found contracts already and that a French organization with some orphanages is planning to include communication and technology in its orphanages with his students.

One day, Albeiro dreams to return to his city to do the same with the Colombian youth, those that have not opportunities. But for now, he will continue being a prophet in a foreign land with a work that satisfies him and encourages him to support the growing of a country with so many needs.

Other articles in Spanish

1. Paisa: In Colombia, the persons that are from the states of Antioquia and the Coffee Axes.

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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, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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