The pot of milk scam in Siem Reap

A girl about 12 sits down near the entrance of a supermarket near the Pub Street. She holds in her arms a sleeping baby, observing with attention the foreign customers coming inside the supermarket. It is around 8PM in Siem Reap and the girl gives special gazes to women with children. A woman with two boys leaves the supermarket. Her children hold big packages of chips and cold sodas. Suddenly, the way of the three is cut by the girl, who looks to the eyes of the foreign lady with tenderness. The baby of her arms does not seem disturbed but in a deep sleep. “Ma’am, give me food for my brother, give me a pot of milk, ma’am,” she says in a very fluent English.  Continue reading

A Malaysian plane during the technological revolution

Gulf of ThailandIt is already one week looking for a plane during the technological revolution, in a time where we can detect planets around stars located thousands of years light far from us or lead electronic wars whatever, including professional spies in US and Britain that can read emails of anybody on Planet Earth! This search is a shame for everybody, starting by the Malaysian government with an incompetent army unable to trace a plane that chanced its rout on the sky. Continue reading

Urban Voice Cambodia’s workshop

Urban Voice Cambodia invited me to give a speech on its workshop this Saturday at Eden Park in Phnom Penh. The workshop was to present the website to different people and to explain the role of urban voices on the development of a city like Phnom Penh. The name of the activity was “The city speaks!” Continue reading

Observations on motorbike accidents

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This is so far the correct and safer way to drive a motorbike. May Cambodians do it?

The Cambodian Motorbikes’ War still on, without any sign to decline. The victims keep the same profile: young men 15 to 25 years old, driving without helmet and many of them with alcohol in their blood at the moment of the incident. There are campaigns around the country on the media and boards along roads and streets, but nobody seems to care: people continue driving without helmet. During this weddings’ season, you can see young men drinking beer as water and after driving their motorbikes without any control. What can we do? Fines seem to work well, but it comes under a corruption network. At the end, people use a helmet only for fear to a police’s fine, but they don’t seem to connect the use of helmets to the protection of their own lives. In Colombia – where there are many traffic accidents too and also related with drunken drivers – the government established a new legislation that includes the removal of the drunken driver’s license and a fine of more than 500 US dollars… In consequence, traffic accidents caused by drunken guys reduced in 50% in the last three months! Continue reading

Gloomy Cambodian hospital

The incident of last Sunday March 2 where we lost a teacher​ in “another” motorcycle event, showed me how gloomy, hard, inhuman and barbaric are the public hospitals in Cambodia. There is not the possibility of any good review on it and we need to call the attention over this reality that affects the common Cambodian citizen and shows a high level of corruption, lack of solidarity for the poor and weakness of the national institutions. Where have gone near 30 years of humanitarian aid to Cambodia since UNTAC made its “democratic transition”? Why so much funds poured into the Cambodian health system produced this kind of gloomy hospitals where nurses, doctors, ambulance’s drivers and even the cleaning personnel concentrate with a very systematic way to get as much as money as possible from patients, especially in emergency cases? They profit the worry of relatives and friends who at the heat of the moment try to save the life of their dear ones and would not discuss any payment.  Continue reading

Don Bosco’s teacher died in traffic accident

Cheang Ren

Cheang Ren

Dear friends, I am saddened to report that Teacher Ren, 24, Manager of the Hotel Sections at the Don Bosco Technical School Kep, passed away this morning at 02:00 AM of March 2, 2014 at Kep Commune. Teacher Soon of the front office section survived the tragic accident. They were returning with other teachers to Don Bosco, four of them in two motorbikes. Teacher Henglay and Teacher Sela were at the other motorbike. It seems they were going on a high speed. Teacher Soon was driving when his motorbike left the road in a bend meeting a tree. Teacher Soon was ejected several meters while Teacher Ren suffered the biggest impact and was found near the motorbike. Continue reading

A farmer boy, a monk and an audiovisual editor

Chamroeun and his parents and little brother

Chamroeun, formelly Tech, with his parents Mok Phun and Pich Pan and their nephew at the Baytea Village in Kompung Trach. Photo courtesy, February 2014.

Supporting a young man to get success in his life is just a key for a sustainable development of any country. It is very important to fight for the reduction of the gender gap and to give girls and women same opportunities. But it is also important not to forget that boys and young men need also support. To forget men just starting from the idea that they are “strong” and they can manage for themselves, prove to be a wrong position and a misunderstand of the gender reduction efforts. Men without education and opportunities can generate violence in many senses. The story of Chamroeun, a farmer boy who became Buddhist monk and then could reach a technical formation in a Don Bosco school, is a good example of how boys and young men can have those spaces to jump into a future of opportunities for the good of their country. The original articles was published in Kampuchea Thmey Daily with the title “Poverty is not a barrier for a person with high values,” but I edited this new English version with some other perspectives as he is my own pupil:  Continue reading

Cambodia since 1999, a video documentary

I share this video documentary by Teleantioquia about Cambodia. It is in Spanish, but you can understand most of the story. We are doubling it in Khmer and English… coming soon. A good resume of what is Cambodia, its history, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville and how I see Cambodia since 1999.

Albeiro Rodas in Cambodia – Part 1, Teleantioquia, 2014.

Albeiro Rodas in Cambodia – Part 2, Teleantioquia, 2014.

Albeiro Rodas in Cambodia – Part 3, Teleantioquia, 2014.

Albeiro Rodas in Cambodia – Part 4, Teleantioquia, 2014.

How I see Cambodia by Teleantioquia

On October 12, 1999 I arrived to the Phnom Penh International Airport at 9 AM. Between October 2001 and August 2005 I studied theology in Jerusalem, a time I used to improve my Khmer reading and writing, as well as the Cambodian history. Teleantioquia, the Colombian television channel from Medellín, dedicated this documentary about how I see Cambodia. I invite you to watch it this coming Monday at 10:30 AM, Cambodian time (3:30 AM UTC/GMT) with repetition on the following Saturday at 9:30 AM in http://www.teleantioquia.co/. Even if it is in Spanish, you will understand many images and meanings on this beautiful work dedicated to my children and youth of Cambodia.

Distributing development

A bigger Kep

A bigger Kep Province would mean a lost of about 25% of the Kampot territory, especially all the east area bordering Vietnam. Kompong Trach, Tus Meas and Angkor Chey would become a part of Kep.

Development is a very complex process that depends from many factors: from the political will to the compromise of enterprises, the foreign investment and the human resources and how people get the opportunities to improve their standard of life. Planning plays a very important role on it and it does not come from a single brain, especially it should not come from a single social group willing to impose their own conceptions of society or protecting their group’s interests. Territory administration is one of those elements that can play a good role in the way development is promoted in a population. In many occasions, territorial distribution must be altered in order to promote such development process.  Continue reading

Poverty misconceptions

A village in Kos Sla, northern Kampot Province. Photo by Don Bosco Kep Children Fund, January 2014.

A village in Kos Sla, northern Kampot Province. Photo by Don Bosco Kep Children Fund, January 2014.

Visitors from developed countries can get impressed by the simplicity of the Cambodian rural families. Such impression can lead to confusions of what is poverty and it is often profit by certain individuals for the embezzlement of funds. Donors have the duty to guarantee that their funds will reach the real needs of vulnerable people and thus it is important to learn the meaning of concepts like poverty, as well as to improve the methods to fight it in an authentic effective way. To measure the social impact of any project is as much as important as planning.  Continue reading

Bill Gates breaking myths on poverty

The annual letter of the Bill & Mellinda Gates Foundation is an excellent start for this year in our commitment to reduce poverty in a country like Cambodia through the means of education. In “3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor”, Gates explains how some preconceptions reduce the capacity of supporting poor communities to overcome poverty. The first myth is that poor countries remain poor, the second is that foreign aid is a big waste and the last one is that saving lives leads to overpopulation.

Read more in Don Bosco Kep.

Opposition leaders propose other approach with factories and workers talks

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Deputy Ken Sockha and president Sam Rainsy in a press conference in Phnom Penh on January 7, 2014. The leaders of the opposition party confirmed they will continue to ask for new elections and their support to the workers request on a higher salary. Photo Arjay Stevens. 

Phnom Penh. The leaders of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) confirmed their purpose to ask for the resignation of P.M. Hun Sen and call on new elections, while supporting the campaign of garment factory unions for a 160 USD salary and a reform to the Cambodian rules for the freedom of association. “We are also trying to do is to brake the monopoly of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC)… (…) Normally there should be freedom of association between any factory with their workers. If a company is willing to pay more than 100 USD, why should it prevent them in doing so?” said CNRP’s president, Sam Rainsy in a press conference last Tuesday at the quarters of his party… Continue reading at Asia Correspondent…

Risks of rising the minimum wage?

Sihanoukville. 8 days after the crackdown on garment factory workers and opposition rallies in Phnom Penh, Cambodia seems normal this weekend. The national television continues its regular programs showing Thai and Korean soft operas, karaoke videos and news about curious things in the West like the polar freezing in US or “national news” like the January 7′s Liberation Day Anniversary to remember when Pol Pot and his cronies were defeated and Cambodia got a new birth. The crackdown is mentioned in the television programs of course, such as to announce that factories are  filling cases in court against trade unions for “incitement to strike, damage to property and assets”, according to Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia… Continue reading at Asian Correspondent…

Government toughens position on protests

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Freedom Park after cleared from protesters by security officers, many of them in civil aspect and sticks.  Photo Arjay R. J. Stevens (January 4, 2014)

Phnom Penh. Cambodian security forces evicted protesters from the Freedom Park this weekend after the tragic events of Friday where at least 4 civilians died and many others were wounded during a workers’ protest to claim for higher salaries. The situation is tense in the capital after the government banned all public demonstrations and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned the two main leaders of the opposition party, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha on charges of “incitement to provoke criminal acts and provoke social unrest.”  The two political leaders, who went into hiding Saturday, should appear in Court by January 14, according to official sources.

Continue reading

A new gym in Kampot Town

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Recently a school’s teacher opened a gym – practically there are not gyms in the town, out of some hotels and guest houses, which are by default mostly exclusive to their guests.  The Blue Star Ping Pong Club is very well located at the river west side, north of the new bridge (Sky Street).  The fee is 3,000 Riel one hour and it has in general good machines plus the ping pong and tennis tables. It is a good opportunity to share also with locals. Continue reading

Khmer vowels

Happy new year dear friends of I See Cambodia. I hope the best for all you and let us see Cambodia in 2014 as well. I want to dedicate this first post of the year to the Khmer alphabet. I want to promote that more expatriates learn Khmer language this year, because it is very important for all of you, as well as for Cambodia. Here this good and clear video about the Khmer alphabet: