Dated on Mar 04, 2002 from Kashiwa
/A visit to Yurari/ (Mar.4, 2002 Kashiwa)
There is a welfare center named 'Yurari'
in Tadami town. It is a million miles from
nowhere and you would doubt that there is
anybody living there. There was a request
for us to talk about Cambodia by the townspeople.
I didn't put any thought into how far it
was and accepted it. Early in March, the
snow piled up two meters. Five people came
to hear the lecture through the snow fields.
They seemed to be wondering why it was about
Cambodia not Afghanistan when the subject
was 'World Peace'. I talked about 'How we
could contribute to the world peace' thoroughly.
It is not enough just to send extra stationery.
Poverty does not always mean unhappiness.
What a good country Japan is and we really
have to be aware of it and treasure it. The
audience really took part and we had a heart-warming
day despite the coldness outside.
It took the same time as it does from Bangkok
to Tokyo as I drove there taking several
rests on the way. I really felt the town
was so far away. I hope the group of the
five people get a chance to think about World
Peace and Cooperation.
/Still alive / (Mar. 14, Phnom Penh)
A landmine was found on the school construction
site which was believed to be a safe area.
Fortunately, the landmine was safely removed
with nobody injured. People say this was
because we had a ground breaking ceremony(a
ceremony to pray for the safe construction)
and they were very calm. But I had mixed
feelings. Before the construction, I visited
the site many times. When the ground breaking
ceremony was held, many villagers attended
and there were some students from Japan on
study tour. It is frightening to think how
thoughtless I was.
There were more than a few times that I thought
I was going to die during these 10 years
since I became involved in Cambodia. When
I was a UN Volunteer, I was threatened at
gunpoint by the Government Solders. At that
time, the cease-fire administrators and civil
Police accompanied me. "Take it easy
and have a smoke." I was saved by the
cigarette that the other staff member brought.
First, have them sit downG Make them understand
that we were not enemiesG Then ask them
what they want. This was the first hands-on
experience of what we had been taught in
The night before the UNTAC general election
was one of the worst nights, too. I was thinking
of every possible worst situation. I spent
a sleepless night thinking I should have
written a will.
Landmines were dreadful. When I just started
ASAC operations, an American Embassy's land-cruiser
was blown up with an anti-tank landmine and
two people were killed. When I heard this,
my knees started to tremble because I had
passed the road by motorbike just before!
There was another situation where my blood
curdled. When I went to CMAC, which had just
finished their landmine removing operation
in Kampot and they said they had found a
live landmine 1 cm from a pass leading to
Kampot. That was the place I passed hundreds
of times. If I had known this, I would have
never approached there. Compared to the fear
of robberies or armed coup, there would be
nothing more horrible than landmine fields
because they hold devils which we can never
/ Working through E-mail /
Since armed group battle ceased in 1997,
there has been a crackdown on weapons and,
Casinos and Karaoke bars have been closed
down in Phnom Penh and Cambodia has regained
peace. Then I found a bomb inside my body.
Malignant cells that may have spread all
through me are, so to speak, dud mines. I
felt uneasy knowing I was in a situation
which actually only God could control. Anti-cancer
medication was Okay at first. But as I had
more medication, it started to be a burden
on my body. I even lost the power to think.
In such situations, e-mail kept coming everyday.
Sometimes I was too lethargic to open the
mailbox, and wrote back late. I am very sorry.
Since then, I have kept working through e-mail.
I went to Cambodia in February and March
due to a new project and preparation for
the Japanese traditional drum performance
and I had to have a contact with the Cambodian
embassy. I had only three days to let the
other staff take over my job. I don't think
the time was enough but I just left the rest
to Mr. Sakakibara, Boramy and other staff
members and hoped they would do well. I feel
it is very far between Cambodia and Japan,
which is a difficulty to not able to be overcome
only by e-mail.
ASAC started with everybody's goodwill and
donations for "A School Brick".
We have been depending on membership fees
and profits from shops and donations but
we cannot predict how much will be raised.
I really feel that it has not been easy to
maintain the office in Cambodia. On the last
day in Phnom Penh, I felt thankful for still
being alive and felt how much it means to
be allowed to live.
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