HORIUCHI HIROKO (Jesuit Service Cambodia)
Wishing you health and happiness at the end of the twentieth century.
I have been in an out of Cambodia through the year 2000. Sareth (or Reth), a landmine victim and double amputee in a wheel chair, and I left for Iowa and Washington D.C. on January 4th for 10 days to campaign to "Ban Landmines."
Mid March Reth, Sok Eng and I went to Fiji to campaign against landmines at the time when parliamentarians of all the South Pacific nations gathered for an international conference.
During the month of May I visited 20 universities, high schools, primary schools and small groups in Japan. Then I had chances to give talks not only on poverty, but also on HIV/Aids, child trafficking, corruption, stressing our obligations and the need of more awareness and care for the unfortunate ones in the world.In July Reth and I went to Okinawa to join the symposium "US Military Bases and Anti-Personnel Mines", at the same time when the three-day G-8 Summit was held in Okinawa.
In October we had much rain in Cambodia. When I drove on the national road 50 km out of Phnom Penh I saw many oxen living on and along the pavement. The rice fields were flooded therefore there was no place for the oxen to stay. Farmers had to go far away to get even wet grass to feed their precious oxen that are their agricultural machines. There will not be enough rice to eat for Cambodians next year.
There are some interesting and unbelievable pieces of news in the papers in
Every one in Cambodia has lost some friends and relatives with Aids. In the meantime prostitution is flourishing. The Cambodian government is trying to legalize prostitution!
Somebody said that in order to reduce poverty, Cambodia needs to invest in education." How true it is!"
We need "compulsory primary education" for 6 years for all children. Only 29% of boys and 20% of girls finish primary education; only l0% of male students and 0.5% of female go beyond high school; 50% of men and 75% of women are illiterate in Cambodia.
Many Cambodians suffer, not because of real political struggles but simply because of misgovernment and mal-administration. Government policies are decided by a relatively small number of people. Well, this is nothing new, even in our countries!
Lately, three Japanese visitors sold some of their items at the free market and gave me all the money they got at the market --US$40-- and two college women gave me $30 from their pocket money. That way I bought one wheel chair for $80 and gave it to an 8-year-old boy with polio. Now he can go out and move around by himself in the wheel chair that has become his legs. Many students of some Japanese schools collected children's clothes for me to bring back to Cambodia. I am very touched by these kind gestures of the young generation. I also met in the United States young boys and girls doing voluntary service for others. I thank all of you for your prayers, encouragement and support for me and for all donations to the neediest in Cambodia, Thailand and Kenya. With your loving friendship I can do some service to others with you all.
Phnom Penh, Christmas 2000