Proceeds from Ray of Light Committee auction to support children living in prison with their incarcerated mothers
ELEANOR AINGE ROY
One of the lamps on auction at the Living Room Cafe this Sunday.
This Sunday is International Women's Day, and across the globe 54 countries will be marking the occasion with 853 events planned worldwide.
In Vietnam, Russia, Bulgaria and China, the day has been declared a national holiday.
In Phnom Penh, at Living Room Cafe a lamp auction organised by the Ray of Light Committee will be held to raise money for human rights organisation Licadho's Adopt-a-Prison program, particularly for children living in prison with their incarcerated mothers.
In February 2008, there were 50 children living in 18 of Cambodia's 26 prisons, with many facing the denial of basic human rights such as reliable access to clean food and water, quality medical care, as well as overcrowding in prison cells and violence from prison staff and other inmates.
Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, says her organisation is very excited about the lamp auction and hopes to have more involvement with such "creative" events in the future.
"I would never have thought of a lamp auction. Licadho is not very creative. We have some skills, but creativity might not be one of them," she said. "What's important for us is the engagement of different people in social issues.
"NGOs, mothers, artists and the media have all been brought together by this event, and we hope to have more like it in the future," she added.
The one-of-a-kind lamps have been specially made by Cambodian and international artists, and each of them are highly individual and carefully constructed works of art.
Some of the Cambodian artists involved include Chath Piersath, Sopheap Pich and Mony Reth.
The Ray of Light Committee organising the auction is made up of a small group of three friends who heard about the children in prison and felt compelled to act.
In 2007, two of the committee members were involved in the Glitz and Glamour Fashion Show, which raised over US$45,000 for charity.
Ray of Light Committee member Deirdre Smith says the choice of lamps for the auction was significant, as they signify light, hope and a future for the children in prison.
Making a difference
Smith says the committee decided to give the money raised from the auction to Licadho because they were familiar with their work and have seen them in action.
"We trust them and we know they will put the money to good use for the children in prison."
Through the funds raised for the children in prison, the committee also hopes to help their mothers, many of whom face additional difficulties in prison as single women with children to support.
"We're pretty sure that for a woman - poor, middle-class or incarcerated - if you help her take care of what is closest to her heart, her children, then you make her stronger to face other challenges." said Smith.
The event will feature a cocktail party this Sunday at 6pm at the Living Room Cafe.