Dated on December 17th, 2005, from Kashiwa

/ Calculation on building structure /

       We hear about the "building structural falsification" problem every day on TV news. This kind of problem always occurs even when there are rules and standards. I can understand if this kind of thing happens in Cambodia, where most rules do not function well. But the fact that it happened in Japan means that we have to make efforts by monitoring things to protect rules. It also goes to protecting democracy.
       When we started building schools in Cambodia, I could do nothing but leave things to the Cambodian engineers because I myself was not an expert on architecture. I have seen a lot of structural problems. We had no clue why cracks on the wall appeared, floors were uneven, wooden door panels are curved and so on. I talked about these problems with staff and we have tried to improve building structures.
       At first, we only had one ground plan of a school, which the Asian Development Bank made. We did many things such as heightening school floors, making walls double-layered and building two story schools. As the number of specifications of buildings increased, skills of engineers improved. They gained knowledge as they studied as graduate students and have become competent enough to make preparation for a seminar on improving architectural engineering skills.
       I hope not only them but overall Cambodia itself will grow enough to be independent.

/ Cost on Clips /

       December is the end of the ASAC's fiscal year. Mountains of copies from the financial books and receipts are sent to the office in Japan every month. A Cambodian staff member in charge of accounting neatly puts numbers on the copies for sorting, puts them together with clips, and sends them. And these clips cost a lot actually. We cannot run an NGO without making efforts to cut down on cost by, for example, reusing DM envelopes. It's time for year-end cleaning and now the idea of putting away these envelopes I have saved is now giving me a headache.

/ A big person trying to be bigger /

       We finished our last school opening ceremony and that was the end of the jobs we had for this year. Many Japanese on studying tour attended the opening ceremony held in December. The Provincial governor and the district governor were among the guests of honor. What surprised the Japanese people was the arrogance of the governors. I have seen these things happen before, when heads of the country areas are assigned to play a big role for the first time. But we have rarely seen such speeches as they gave, aimed entirely toward the election to be held in the near future. This time, both governors spoke 45 minutes. Poor students and attendees had to endure this under a scorching sun. The governors' attitudes were like 'it does not matter keeping people waiting' or 'it's no big deal if they yell at or insult their subordinates or people younger than themselves.' It is an obsolete idea that the longer the speech, the better. Governors should know that their attitudes only give Japanese donors a bad impression. But these days, it is sometimes us who keep the Foreign Minister Hor Namhong waiting when he attends an opening ceremony. And Vice Minister Sok An only speaks about the meaning of education and the current situation, refraining from a political speech. These things reflect a new trend. It seems that the trend has not taken place in the countryside.

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