Thursday, July 26, 2007

NGO - the magic word

Since a couple of days, we're staying in Siem Reap. It's a nice little town, which is going through rapid tourism boom. Everywhere, just an in Sihanoukville, hotels pop out of the ground. The usual techniques to attract the attention of passing tourists are also applied here: yelling at you from a distance "Mister-wan-collldrink?!" or continuously repeating the offer of "five-for-only-one-dollar".

The biggest boom here is not tourism though, it's the NGO "business". Everyone who ownes a guesthouse or knows a bit of English seems to have their own private initiative to help a family, village or school. Makes sence, because poverty is all around you. Also the big organisations are present; Plan, UNICEF, we've even seen a building of SOS Children's villages (also sponsored by Dutch organisations). We talk a lot about this; what do the people here actually want and which type of aid is most effective?

We have a lot of good examples from practise around us. At the moment we are staying at Baca Villa ( which is also run by a Dutch man named Jan, same as Orchidee guesthouse in Sihanoukville (It's not that we're chauvinist, we just heard this is a nice place). This Jan is supporting the entire Baca family and currently employs twenty-three people - all brother, sisters, nieces and nephews. He has also just set up a school in the countryside, where children can take English lessons. The classes are very popular; the only teacher had some two-hundred students! Many come from surrounding villages.

Tuesday Jan took us to visit a school to which we donated a part of the Nam Jai moneyt to; the Wat Prenn School of the Salariin Kampuchea foundation. Jan knows Saskia, one of the founders and a good friend of mine, and the other that run the foundation, very well. It was busy, because there was a documentary showed of the Tonle lake. Whether the kids understood everything, I strongly doubt. Fortunately they get to visit the `Wildlifecentre` in Siem Reap to study the snakes and other wild creatures from up close; then they'll definately grasp it all!

A lot more to tell; we've seen many pagoda's and still enjoy ourselves here.
More will follow soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Greetings from Kleng Leu

After a long journey and a few days in Phnom Penh, we hopped on the Mekong Express Limousine Bus to Sihanoukvelle. Being experienced travellers, we hadn't arranged for a pick-up from the busstop, which caused us to be surrounded with motodop (motorbike) drivers offering us rides. After looking around, we found the man in charge - he was carrying a notebook and a megaphone. He arranged two motorbikes (3 USD) to take us (bagage in front) to Orchidee guesthouse, where we met Cees.

Sihanoukville is still relatively new to tourism, but big real estate contractors are buying every piece of land they can find. This will undoubtedly turn this place into a beachcity like Kuta in Bali in a few years.

Kleng Leu, the village where Cees set up the Mondol Op'thom school, is a victim to this trend. Yesterday we drove to the village near the quarry. Several years a go the village only consisted of a few shacks, now concrete houses pop up everywhere. The villagers are selling their land - walls, fences and barbed wire is put up on the strangest places.

Cees takes us to the school and we peek into the classrooms where the children are taught Khmer language and mathematics. They have only two more days of school before summerholidays begin and many have already started their vacations early. No one who can do anything about it..

Opposite the school is a small house on poles, which has been bought by Cees to make into a computerroom. First the house is sealed so that it stays free of rain and thieves, then a teacher for computerlessons can be sought and computers bought. Our donation (and yours!) will be used for this project.

Much of what we've seen is hard to grasp. Houses are made of wood and are not well taken care of. The village is confronted with dengue - the mosquitos sting during the day, the mosquito nets are thus of no use. While we use 'deet' as moisturiser, this is too expensive for the villagers. A little boy has died some months ago.

The government denies all claims that not enough is being done to prevent dengue. In adverstisments in the paper, they explain what they do to keep the people save. Just this morning (Cees told us) a man with a megaphone drove by on a bicycle to inform us of the dangers of dengue. You see, the government does care!

Well, that's it for now.
The pictures will be uploaded later.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nam Jai Yoga

Last Friday Marinka, a good friend and yoga teacher, fulfilled Nam Jai's agenda of fun(d)raisers. She offered a great yoga lesson and collected 130 euro for Nam Jai. All together, we have now raised over 3000 euro! Wow. We have decided to support the Sala Riin Kampuchea school ( and Cees Chamuleaux, a Dutch man working around the clock to upgrade an entire village (

It's been a wonderful ride and we haven't even left for Cambodia yet!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Cash for Cambodia

Queensday 2007 - First of all, thanks to everyone who has so generously provided us with things to sell (we had so many books, clothing, shoes, games...), sales qualities and support. Here are some pictures:


Cooking for Cambodia

It has been way too long since I last wrote. In the meantime we have collected some 1900 euro's for the good cause. It all started with the cooking workshop, which was great. Having a wonderfull evening with friends and family, while accepting donations.. it's a luxury...


Sunday, February 11, 2007


A suitable name for the activities that we will organise to raise funds for our Cambodja project. The aim is to organise fun get-to-gethers for the good cause.

Michael's brother-in-law and 'patron cuisinier' has offered to host a cooking workshop for 15 people - he is great chef and makes the student-cooks feel they themselves are responsible for cooking up a fantastic meal. Good thing is that the students get to eat it themselves afterwards. He will pay for the costs and donate the fees to Nam Jai. This is exactly our idea of a fun(d)raiser!

Also, we are looking for a cook who wants to offer his skills as a guestcook in the bar where Michael spends many friday nights with his colleagues. Maybe the owner can even help us out there. These ideas make spending money on a good cause easier, we think. We have also scheduled big sales for Queensday (30th of April). We have started collecting items to sell and have aleady gotten positive responses from family members. My Brazilian aunt has already offered to make Caipirinhas for the occassion.

We're on the right track and are open to suggestion and initiaves to make it even more succesful!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nam Jai - Cambodia 2007

The plans are being made; we're going to Cambodia this summer. Many of my friends, colleagues and visiting researchers at the International Institute for Asian Studies have visited Cambodia and their stories roused a curiousity in me. Also, meeting several very interesting people from Cambodia at Asef (Asia-Europe Foundation - events has made me long to go there.

What we've learned so far is that Cambodians refer to their own country as Kampuchea, which is derived from the words kambu-ja. The litteral meaning is; those who stem from Kambu, the mythical founder of Cambodia. The main industry in Cambodia is tourism. A favourite tourist attraction is Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world according to the Guiness Book of Records.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Many people suffer from Aids and the figures of those infected with HIV keep rising. As a consequence many children are raised in special orphanages, because both parents passed away.

We are now looking for an organisation to work with. Last year, our cooperation with Flowgi contributed so much to the quality of our small contribution, that we seek help from 'insider out' again.