01 December 2012

Contributions Used for Good Cause

I am presenting my deep respect to our elderly people and all participants to the inauguration ceremony of the Third Arun Reah Village Orphanage in the Village of Smaj Daeng, Prey Nub district, Preah Sihanouk province today. I am so happy to hear that Sister Geraldine Cox has made great effort in reading her speech in Khmer. She has become a Cambodian national since 1999, which is now 13 years already. I am sure she will be speaking even better next time.

I thank for the report about achievements and actions presented by HE Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Social, Veteran Affairs and Youth Rehabilitation along with that of Sister Geraldine Cox. I would like to express my sincere thanks to generous people who have been participating with Sister Geraldine Cox in making all this happen for orphans in Cambodia. I am reassuring that their contributions have been used for good cause. I am even happier that we have here with us some of the charitable people to witness the achievements that we have worked together for the cause of saving vulnerable children in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Please allow me, on behalf of the Royal Government and Cambodian beneficiaries, to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has made such generous contribution through the Sister Geraldine Cox for the constructions of the first, second and third Arun Reah orphanages.

Take this opportune moment, I would like to express my sincere thanks to HE Sbaong Sarat, overnor of Preah Sihanouk province, for making effort in figuring out with the generous Oknha Lim Huy Leng, to provide the land to me in the first place. Thanks to their effort and generosity, I could offer the land to Sister Geraldine Cox for use in the construction and operation of the Arun Reah Orphanage.

From One to Three Orphanages

Please let me recall about when and how I get to involve in the establishment of the Arun Reah Orphange. Sister Geraldine Cox has gone through so much difficulty. Thank to her steadfastly enduring effort, the work that she started since 1997 has brought now love and charity for orphans. It is fifteen years now. Every child brought into the orphanage then is now 15 years older. They no longer are small children. It was because of her constant efforts, despite so much difficulty, she has assured her commitment for them or they would have been left in desperate condition. She came to see me at Ta Khmao town to seek for help.

I remember that there was a land issue involving Sister Geraldine Cox’s project. She did not know what to do or where to go. To provide the project with short-live alternative location is one thing but to help the Arun Reah Orphan Village project to be sustainable is not at all a simple matter. I am so grateful that Sister Geraldine Cox agreed to the offer of ten hectares of land in the area of Tuol Krasaing. The land condition at the time was not like what we have today. However, it is a correct decision that she accepted the offer because a while later the area has access to electricity, while the project has built a great Khmer home.

I said to her that she does not have to go back to Australia but to stay for the project in Cambodia. She then started the construction on the land that belongs to her as we offer her the land title for the ten-hectare orphanage village. I have had a chance to visit twice the place where there are about 147 orphans and some 39 staff. My first visit was when I presided over the inauguration and again when I went there to meet with orphans and to observe the overall project’s development. After all, we are neighbors. The project progressed on until one more orphanage was built and ready in the province of Siem Reap on a location that is provided by the Ministry of Social, Veteran Affairs and Youth Rehabilitation.

Later, I can recall also that Sister Geraldine Cox came to see me again asking for help to find a place to build and operate the third Arun Reah Orphan Village. I called Governor Sbaong Sarat to find the land. With the generosity of Oknha Lim Huy Leng, the third Arun Reah Orphan Village has been built and we are operating on this land today. We have offered here with the land title. Without land title, land use would not be guaranteed because they would not know how long they could use the land.

Charity Knows No Boundary, Seizing Opportunity

I am so happy that we have been working together for an interesting charity project. Charity knows no boundary and is not limited within any one religion at all. As in this case, the charity has extended from Australia to Cambodia, where there is no discrimination as to who would benefit from them as long as they are vulnerable, orphans and/or HIV/AIDS carriers. In short, it is for any one child that needs protection and saving. I am so proud that we are able to do this together. The war left us with many orphans and those who became orphans under the Pol Pot’s regime are now no less than 33 years of age.

However, we also have certain number of children that are in challenging condition from losing their either one of or both of their parents. The criteria set by the Arun Reah Orphan Village has been responsive to the need to those children but also to difficulties of their parents. It is also true to say it even lessens the burden and difficulty of the Royal Government as well.

I am of the opinion that charity contributed by both foreigners and locals is unfathomable. Once again, I thank all efforts made by everyone involved in making this achievement possible. I am sure that this place will soon become a new town since it is not far from the airport. I am also convinced that the three orphanages will be benevolent shelters for those vulnerable children. I would take this opportune moment to seek understanding from parents and those who look after the children in the shelters to take good care of them. The case of the niece Pin, who is handicapped and has now lived her life in the Arun Reah Orphan Village, has indeed indicated that we now have more chances for their own life.

Niece Pin, who almost had no chance at all, has seized the moment and persisted in continuing her study. Her parents have had to respond to her wish. They mortgaged land for 1.5 million Riels and were about to mortgage their buffaloes too. Having learned about their situation, I have arranged for Pin to live in the Arun Reah Orphan Village (in Siem Reap province). I also contacted the Angkor University and provided her with a stipend of 100 USD per month for a period of two years.

That is why I am calling on every youth without handicap and with lots of chances to look into and learn from the determination and commitment of niece Pin. I also would assure you all in front of Sister Geraldine Cox that as soon as these children finish their secondary school education, I promise to provide them with scholarship so that they can go on to University. They can go far. After your graduation, we may also look into the possibility of finding you works to do. With all the chances and facility available, I just want you all to work hard for your future.

Two Access Roads, Services for All

Now we have good buildings and nice environment but the road access is still a problem. I am giving instruction now to the Governor of the Preah Sihanouk province to work on building two asphalted roads all the way from the National Road 4. I would recommend that Governor HE Sbaong Sarat to work it out with owners of the land along the two roads to enlarge the current trail. I am sure this is welcoming news for everyone since the roads will be of benefit not only to the orphanage but to people in the area as well.

In her report, Sister Geraldine Cox confirmed that the Arun Reah Orphan Village and a Computer company have strong intention and are determined to provide the vulnerable in the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially children with HIV/Aids with care and chances. It is important that they are to receive whatever they deserve. It is a great chance that we have the presence of the President of New Hope for Cambodian Children that is leading in providing care and treatment for children with HIV/Aids and managing the operation of the Arun Reah Orphan Village in the province of Preah Sihanouk. Aside from this service, it also administers oral care service and general healthcare for both children and people living around the village.

According to the new program, children will have chance to learn English, music and traditional Khmer dance, computer, and sport activity perhaps. Again, these services are not only for those of you taking shelter in the village but also people living around. I also take this chance to express my sincere thanks for those generous fellows, for example Mr. Chea Thilay of NTC Group, for providing further helps and 60 scholarships for kids from Arun Reah Orphan Village.

I am sorry that my wife could not join me today because of her health. She was so busy with welcoming spouses of heads of state and government of ASEAN and the partnering countries. She accompanied me only once to visit the Handicap Children – Deaf, Mute and Blind. I hope that in the course of integration further cooperation will be enhancing. I urge that the authority taking high responsibility all issues relating to this village. For example, when there is power outage, please make it your urgent task to see to it as some equipment, such as computers, may need to be on constant electric supply. I am so grateful that there are so many people coming to welcome me. Tomorrow, when I am coming again to the province of Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nub district to hand out the land titles, I will meet our people, especially those to receive their land titles./.