One aspect of life in Cambodia that I find particularly disturbing is the high percentage of people who make their living handling trash, either collecting it for recycling or for disposal.
The poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.
~ Gustavo Gutierrez
Today the Disability Action Council, a section of the government’s Ministry of Social Affairs, had a Deaf Day celebration in connection with International Deaf Week that is observed around the world at the end of September.
The good points:  the speaker encouraged all the television stations to add a sign language interpreter on screen for their broadcasts;  he said only certified interpreters should be used.
The bad points:  on a day ostensibly to recognize and honor the deaf people, there was not one deaf person on the stage, just two rows of government officials;  deaf people need to sit near the front so they can readily see the sign language interpreter and catch the nuances of facial expression, etc., but the first four rows of the theater seats were filled with more government people and the deaf were moved towards the rear of the hall;  a speaker from the ministry stated that sign language is “universal,” meaning there is one sign language used every where (that’s not true);  the wording on the back of the purple T-shirts given to the participants said in Khmer “deaf and dumb.” Deaf people are not dumb and that phrasing is offensive to them.  At the end of the ceremony, the government officials and invited guests were taken downstairs for a reception with tea and coffee, fruits, cakes, etc., and provided with photo opportunities. The deaf people were kept upstairs in the auditorium and given a bottle of water and a box with a sandwich, croissant, and some fruit.
Last week we initiated a formal break time for the DDP staff who work in the main office in Phnom Penh. We hoped that getting all the staff together would build camaraderie, improve communications, and strengthen a team spirit. Things got going slowly last week, but today it clicked! This was the scene at our morning break when we had our teachers, interpreters, cleaners, guards, directors–everybody–together. We are fortunate that our “new” office building has this wonderful upstairs porch for a break area.
St. Theresa of Lisieux is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church and her parents are also official saints. The relics of the parents–Louis and Zélie Martin–were brought to the Saturday evening liturgy of the English community by Bishop Olivier. Click here to see photographs from this visit.
We’re still in the rainy season–last week it poured almost every day–but the rains are a little less frequent now. This afternoon we had a downpour and I got this picture of construction workers 20 stories up in a building two blocks away. The man on the left may be thinking that it’s lousy timing since it’s almost time for him to head home.
Tomorrow evening, Friday, 13 September, is the big celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival when all of China and much of East Asia goes out to view the full moon and play with lights and lanterns. It’s a fun evening and whole families gather in the parks to carry their lanterns and celebrate. One part of the celebration is the giving and receiving of mooncakes, round puck-sized cakes with lotus or red bean paste or egg yolks as filling. Phnom Penh won’t see too much of the lanterns but mooncakes are currently available along many of the city’s major streets.
Cambodia might not be known as a high-tech center but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of young people interested in IT and high-tech endeavors. Here are a couple young men I passed early in the morning on a busy street as they were preparing to fly a small drone equipped with a camera.