Man About Town: 04 Jul 2014

Man About Town: 04 Jul 2014

There are lots of brazen robberies in town at the moment, and lots of theories about what’s behind the crime wave. Some say workers who have returned from Thailand are responsible for the upswing, but a more popular theory is that robberies are on the rise because of gambling splurged on the World Cup.

One long-time local has even commented that there was a similar rise in robberies during the last World Cup four years ago.

The robbers also caused much chatter on the expats Facebook page, with one woman reporting, “Last night, our house was broken into, and an iPad and iPhone, and some money and clothes, were stolen. We live behind a high wall, topped with razor wire, surrounded by a school with a security guard. No empty fields. The thief threw a sheet over the razor wire, climbed over, and used a fishing tool. I don't know where the security guard was. By odd coincidence, my son, who usually sleeps in that room, was not feeling well, so had come upstairs.”

This coincides with what is obviously a more violent wave of crime in Phnom Penh, and an article about the disturbing trend that appeared in last week’s new Post Weekend, has been posted far and wide here in town. In the article, titled Crime and No Punishment, journalist Ezra Kyrill Erker gives chilling details of the torrid and protracted life-threatening street robbery he endured.

New NGO in town, Charity Tours Cambodia, says one of its missions is, “Fighting poverty and social ignorance through eco-tourism.”

Program manager Anne-Marie Gerritsen, who has been in Cambodia for eight months, says, “About 10 days ago we implemented a project called 'Our world + our health = our business'. It's a project about recycling, healthcare, deforestation and new job opportunities for Cambodia's poorest families in rural areas.

“We've selected the poorest families in a nearby village to work with because we want to create a business opportunity for them to increase their incomes. These families were making a living of cutting wood in the forest to use and sell as firewood, or were cutting rattan to make products to sell at the local market.

“We told them the importance of a clean environment and the health dangers of pollution by plastic. We also explained about deforestation and what it's doing to humanity. We provided them a training of making new products for sale, using the plastic bags and can tabs that people throw on the ground. The training was very successful, we came back after one week to monitor their progress and they'd made a total of 15 bracelets that we've bought from them.

“One of the participants, a woman of 59, told us she was very happy with this job. She has not been in the forest for that whole week and her body felt a lot better as this job seemed to be not as tough as cutting rattan and carrying that home on her bicycle.

“The direct result is that there's a much cleaner environment which decreases the risk of getting diseases like dengue fever. Mosquitos breed in small pools of water remaining inside plastic bags, especially during the rainy season. Another direct result is a growing forest instead of them destroying the forest.

“With the bracelets being so successful already, with the profit that we make by selling them we're going to implement other projects within the same range.”

“My own personal goal, why I came to Cambodia in the first place, is to find out if a recycling project like this can contribute to this country. The answer to me is 'yes, definitely’.”


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