Ms. Inagaki Miyuki, Camboren staff member
1. Participating in the Cambodian study tour organized by the Jesuit Social Center
In 2003 I joined the Cambodian study tour for the first time. Maintenance of roads and towns in Cambodia at that time was gravely deficient. We drove around the villages by car, bumping over roads full of holes, covered with clouds of dust. The assistance provided by Jesuit Service Cambodia (JSC) was manifold, consisting of programs for education, medical services, welfare assistance to the disabled in wheelchairs, and rural rojects.Particularly prominent was assistance to people forced into poverty due to disabilities occasioned by landmines, and to women and children expelled from the educational system. I was greatly impressed to realize that weak people were the priority targets of the assistance programs. The holocaust wreaked by the Pol Pot regime had destroyed trusty relationships among the population, but the friendly and tenacious assistance of JSC held out a vision for the future by training young teachers with fresh skills and by creating dialogue venues to regenerate communities at the village level. I admired the JSC staff smiling at everybody with the customary greeting “sok sapbail” (Are you OK today?) and going from the center of the town into faraway villages. We are always grateful for the warm hospitality we receive every year.
2.Together with the Staff at Sisophon
After the last leg of the 2003 study tour visiting Phnom Penh and Battambang, we dropped by the JSC office in Sisophon. The garden was beautifully kept and Fr Greg Priyadi, together with a dog and some little birds, welcomed us quietly at the office. There, Ms. Sok Eng, the project director, made a dynamic presentation of the yearly plans at Sisophon and the orientation of their activities. She was formerly an enthusiastic teacher with special educational talents. The aid programs were well documented and it was clear that, in the regions near the Thai border, where landmine clearance was not moving forward, assistance was still needed. While there, we were deeply impressed on observing a group of 6 young teachers holding a workshop on education near the kitchen.
As a result of this encounter the tour members joined Fr Bonet to inaugurate “Camboren, The Association for Solidarity with our Friends the People of Cambodia.” This year Camboren celebrates its 11th anniversary. Yearly tours provide us with an opportunity to meet with the staff of Sisophon to plan for future assistance and to assess changes in the lives of the people. In that way and by continuing our mail communication, we are able to share joys and difficulties.
3.Together with our Cambodian friends
The “Hato (Dove) Center” in Phnom Penh is a Vocational Training Center for disabled people. They opened a “Peace Café” shop downtown, where they sell carvings and craft souvenirs produced at the Center. New techniques, like repair of mobile phones, makeup skills, tree cultivation taking into account ecological issues of the Mekong River, and methods of raising livestock are continually updated at the Technical School.
Students come from faraway small villages and from Sisophong and Battambang to learn techniques at the Vocational Technical School. Once they return to their villages they can be self-supporting. Such social network services were implemented thanks to the efforts of the Cambodian JSC staff. I suddenly feel healed every time I join the tours and meet with the warm smiling Cambodian people and taste their delicious Cambodian food.
Meeting with Ms. Sok Eng and Ms. Srey Mon of Siem Reap’s JSC always fills me with energy. While working in Japan, I often recall their attitude towards work. We will meet again. Let’s take care of our health and continue working hard.