Dated on 30 May 2000, Phnom Penh

/ School-opening rush took a rest /

School opening rush that began in February this year came to an end. Now, all of the office staffs are devoting themselves to compile all achievements of this term into a report.
Appearance of the city looks almost unchanged to us. But here and there, strikes and demonstrations, such as those of the sewing factory are going on repeatedly. A monument for the memory of victims who were killed by grenade during their meeting was built just in front of the Diet building. The city authorities have crushed it again and again, nevertheless, every time the monument was crushed, citizen held protest rally and rebuilt it. Following the actress murder case, a hearsay reached my ears that a wife of some high official got angry when she noticed her husband's love affair with a teen aged Karaoke-singer, then she poured nitric acid on the girl and burnt her seriously. The suspects are not arrested yet in both cases.
Pressmen reported that 543 million-dollar aid was adopted in the conference of supporting countries for Cambodia. But they kept silence on the happening in which Cambodians living in Paris threw raw eggs at Prime Minister Fun Sen who attended the conference and pressed him to follow the cause of justice in Cambodia.
Although there has been disharmony among the Cambodian society, people believe firmly that if some of the preconditions of foreign aid, such as the protection of civil liberties, the forest conservation and the prohibition of illegal arrest etc., even partly come true, their country must change for the better. I would like to applaud their earnest optimism. However, the political circle, which keeps watch thirstily for the coming election is showing its squeaky friction openly.

/ Of course, gift is welcome, butc /

Once a school is completed, opening ceremony is jammed full with smiling faces. In the happy ceremony, children can enjoy small gift of writing materials, the gift usually contains notebook and "ball pen". If "pencil", eraser and sharpener are indispensable.
Recently, one lot of satchel for school children was sent to "sabay" voluntary shop in Kashiwa-city. This is the gift from a donor of school. In the local area of Cambodia, children have nothing to carry stationery in, so put it inside of their shirts or pants, sometimes put into thin plastic bags. How grad they will be when they receive the gift! The quantity of satchel s enough for 460 children, packed in 6 cartons, weight about 100kg. Mariko-san simply can't handle them alone. I f one person takes on 10kg; it will take 10 persons to carry them all. I could imagine how staff members of Kashiwa got confused in front of the cargo filled up the narrow office space. I consulted with embassy about its transportation. They said that civil supporting action should be self-help, and introduced me a forwarder, but estimated freight amount was terrible. Sometimes, freight of the gift cargo will become a headache of us who are working like a beaver to collect 10yen-20yen funds in the sales of recycled cloths and hand-made articles. The material aids let us consider many things.

/ Seila visiting Japan /

A working bee in the Phnom Penh office, Miss Seila is going to visit Japan. She will attend the events of ASAC and deepen her knowledge about our activities. She is now studying Japanese to prepare a brief speech in the lecture of Mariko-san which will be held in Noda-city on 23rd, July. I hope all of you look forward to seeing her. Mariko-san is also coming home with the achievements of past one year and her own healthy condition recovered in hospital.

/ A little boy from Dang Tung under operation /

On the day of Wat Serey Chey Mean Leak primary school's opening, a little boy who was running about in a crowd caught attention of the people. His T-shirt was almost bursting on his belly. Our staffs rushed out and got him. This parentless boy aged 12 has been brought up by his illiterate grandmother. He has been suffering from constipation and his potbelly was just before explosion. After the opening ceremony, the boy was brought to the Red Cross hospital in Kampot district, but the doctor there couldn't do anything before giving up. After few days, he was sent to the Royal pediatrics hospital in Phnom Penh, and hospitalized on the same day, then underwent operation on the next day. The name of disease was HIRSCHSPRUNG. Mariko-san couldn't understand medical terms, but came to know that boy was fitted up with the artificial anus. The boy could start eating with milk and rice gruel and his grandmother was trained for sanitation. He stayed in the hospital for ten days and spent several days in our office, then became homesick and returned to the country. During his stay in the hospital, he was nicknamed "SOMNAN(lucky)". It pleased him very much, so he abandoned his real name. Mariko-san is still anxious about further prospect. Does he take medicine or not? Is the plastic attachment of the artificial anus kept clean or not? Is the money which she gave him surely consumed for his foods or not? And that's not all, Dang Tung district is the most undeveloped area in Kampot province. In the old days, there were mine fields in every quarter. Now, except mountainous area where Pol Pot set their southern base, mines were almost removed. But very poor villages with many illiterate people remained there. Perhaps there is no medicine to irrigate his postoperative wound and even water is not sufficient. Under these surroundings how does he survive? This question makes me feel groomy. Could it realy be a right way for him to undergo operation? I'm wandering about to find correct answer. Anyway full amount of medical fee was covered by the hospital.

/ What did you take for lunch? /

Every time I went back home, I was told that you gained weight, you look healthy. I must disclose my inside story. These days, more number of temporary volunteers is assisting our works. To my regret, I couldn't provide enough dishes in the restaurant for them. In order to get out of the pinch, I decided to take lunch in the Cambodian style delicatessen. The expense is 1,000 to 2,000 Rile per dish. I will introduce you the menu of one day as below. By the way, nobody can guarantee the safety of water.

* Grilled eggplant with dressing
Peeled and grilled eggplant and boiled small shrimps mixed with fried pork. Dressing is oyster sauce.

* Vietnam Soup
Sour soup based on lime. Ingredients are chopped river-fish, water lily stem, gourd-melon, green tomato, pineapple, fried crispy garlic, coriander and chili.

* Lotus saute
Young thin lotus chopped into large pieces and sauteed with pork. Seasoned with salt, pepper and fish sauce.

* Vesitable saute
Onion, sweet pepper, sweet peas mixed with pork, sauteed and seasoned with fish sauce.

* Papaya pickled in sweet vinegar
Ingredients are young papaya, carrot, ginger, radish, cucumber and green bean.
* Deep-fried salty horse mackerel
Deep-fried small horse mackerel previously preserved in salt. Soak it in fish sauce with a garnish of shredded green mango, garlic and chili, and then enjoy it.
I assure you it's an excellent appetizer!

Can you imagine how much above mentioned dishes cost you? After lunch, we all ASAC's@nine members enjoyed plenty of tropical fruits as dessert on that day.

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