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Volunteers in clean sweep of city streets

Volunteers in clean sweep of city streets

O VER 300 dedicated volunteers are each week befriending orphans, providing free

education to illiterate adults and children, collecting garbage and doing city

beautification works, and offering rehabilitation programs to villains in

projects launched by the Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development

(CVCD).

Arn Chorn Pond, Deputy-President of CVCD, founded in December

1992, said: "CVCD has 40 volunteer staff divided into different groups which

organize over 300 people to help the community in particular areas. We

especially try to help the poor and vulnerable people."

Pond said: "One

staff group organizes people to collect rubbish twice monthly.

A

volunteer garbage cleaner said: "I do about 3 days work a month with CVCD, I get

no pay but I'm enthusiastic to do my job because I don't want Khmers to be

despised by foreigners.

"The team are happy to clean any area and are

always available to take up duty upon the request of local authorities who

sometimes get involved in the projects. We also educate people on being

clean."

Another volunteer said: "Before we did not discriminate as to

which areas we cleaned. Often we would clean areas near big business places, but

the people there were so mean they would not even spend a small amount of money

to buy drinking water for us.

"Often poor monks who helped the team had

to buy water for us. Volunteers are now more eager to clean in poor

areas."

Pond said: "The garbage collecting group now has problems due to

a lack of equipment. We used to borrow garbage trucks and equipment from the

Phnom Penh municipality cleaning service to collect and dispose of garbage. But

since the French firm APD took over responsibility for collecting Phnom Penh's

rubbish we can no-longer borrow the equipment."

Pond said: "Another CVCD

group teach English and Khmer to illiterate people. So far we have taught

English to about 500 adults. Other men attend our rehabilitation classes. Often

they confess they do nothing during the day and steal during the night because

they consider themselves unfortunate and unable to live normal

lives."

Chin Kethya, an English teacher who assists CVCD, said: "I am

happy to teach students free of charge because I want to see Khmers be

self-reliable and I do not want foreigners to look down on

Khmers."

Kethya said the educational programs at CVCD had helped over 350

adults find jobs, and the rehabilitation programs had helped over 70 percent of

villains and desperados to become better people.

Pond said: "Another CVCD

group, called 'Big Brothers and Sisters', coordinate people to become friends

with orphans. The group also organized activities for the orphans like taking

them to the countryside.

"We used to take the orphans swimming at the

Cambodiana, but now the hotel will not let the children swim there, and the

manager refuses to meet us to discuss the issue."

Pond said: "Another

CVCD group, called 'Save the Children', is dedicated to helping the city's poor

children. Each day over 50 children attend one and a half hour classes where

they learn basic Khmer."

 

Pond, A 34 year old Cambodian American, complained: "CVCD completely lacks

everything. Of our staff only the English teachers get paid anything, $30 per

month funded by PACT. We have no budget to do anything. Our office has no

furniture or equipment, but ICCD has pledged to provide us with about 15

computers. We hope to expand and have offices and programs in every province."

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