A Japanese man with first-hand experience of natural disasters has announced a one-off special event in Phnom Penh to benefit the victims of the deadly earthquake which struck Turkiye and Syria on February 6. The death toll from the massive quake currently stands at more than 50,000.
Yuki Aotani has put together similar events in the past. He raised money for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans – a town he used to live in – in 2005, and has held numerous fundraisers for earthquake victims in his native Japan.
Aotani is brewmaster at Flowers Nanobrewery, where he produces craft beers in different flavour.
“I come from a country which has experienced many natural disasters. We have always received support from people all over the world when we needed it, so I thought I should do what I can to pay it forward and help out,” said Aotani.
He is working with members of the Turkish and Syrian communities in Phnom Penh to organise the charity fundraiser, which will be held at Japanese beauty salon Fit & Beaute 302 on March 10.
The brewmaster will offer two special beers for the occasion, a Mango Smoothie IPA and a Double Dry Hopped IPA. They will be paired with a range of Turkish food, available from a range of stalls.
“I started the event by myself, but due to the fact that the quake took place in Turkiye and Syria, I wanted to ask the people from those regions to get involved. There are several Turkish people running restaurants in Phnom Penh, and many of them were keen to set up stalls at the event,” he said.
He expected at least six food stalls would be available, along with some souvenirs. The stalls would be manned by around 30 Turkish and Syrian people and their friends.
“Some popular Turkish food includes kebabs, which are filled with juicy chunks of chicken, beef or lamb, and skewers with the delicious spices. Turkish pizza – Pide – will probably be available as well. Homemade sausages from Digby’s Bar & Gril will also be on sale,” he added.
“In addition, there will be live acoustic jazz. They will be playing some tunes that you rarely hear in Cambodia, and this way you will get to hear them playing in the street. You don’t want to miss it,” he said.
Egemen Kıran, the Turkish owner of Bosphorus Restaurant in Toul Tom Poung, has lived in Cambodia for eight years.
Kıran said he is deeply concerned that the many people who were affected by the earthquake are in need of huge support.
“Literally millions of people have been made homeless by this tragic event, which took place during the coldest part of the year. They are in need of temporary shelters, food and medical assistance, and so much more,” he added.
“I hope this event will increase awareness of the scale of the humanitarian crisis that is taking place and that it will raise some much-needed funds and provide long-term support to the people that are suffering,” he continued.
Another Turkish restaurant which will join the event is King Kebab and Döner.
The shop’s owner Murad, who is from Azerbaijan, has lived in Cambodia for four years. He will run the stall at the event personally, selling his famous Beef Kebab (spicy skewers), Chicken Shawarma and Beef Döner (slow cooked meat from a rotating rack), and Gözleme (Turkish style pancakes).
“A large part of my sales will be donated to the people of Turkiye and Syria,” he said.
Flowers Nanobrewery will offer craft beers, starting from $2 per glass.
“From the sale of beers I brew, at least 50 per cent will be gifted to charity. On the night, my prices will be at least 70 per cent cheaper that most craft beer bars,” said Aotani, 48, who moved his Kampot brewery to Phnom Penh’s Beong Keng Kong neighborhood.
“All of the food stalls will donate what they think is appropriate. There will be a donation box at the event, and of course we will accept ABA payments, along with the other common payment apps,” he added.
He said that even if the event does not attract a huge number of people, several businesses have already donated hundreds of dollars through sponsorships.
The primary sponsors of the event are Flowers Nanobrewery, Agro Lude, Digby’s Bar & Grill and Sekai Property.
He explained that many of the victims have been living through a brutal civil was for the past decade, and the winter has brought heavy snow to the region.
“We want to make sure that our donations reach the victims as directly as possible. There are several warring factions in the region, so we have to be very careful where the money will end up. We are all working on deciding which organisation will make sure that donations make it to the victims of this tragedy,” he added.