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 downG Make them understand that we were not enemiesG Then ask them what they want. This was the first hands-on experience of what we had been taught in the orientation.
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 spot.

/ 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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