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Man about town: 15 Mar 2013

Man about town: 15 Mar 2013

The high-profile Phnom Penh café-cum-cupcake-boutique, Bloom, will open a Siem Reap outlet later this year – but not under that name. In deference to Diana Saw, who has been using the name Bloom in Siem Reap, the Temple Town café will instead be called Blossom Ruth Larwill, director of Bloom café arrives in town on Monday to search for rental property and hopes to open shop in September.

Bloom is a darling of the international press, having had laudatory write-ups from publications as diverse as Travel+Leisure and Huffington Post.

Some Reapers regard it with adulation as well. When news of the move was posted on the Siem Reap expats page, adherents gushed, “The best cupcakes in all of PP are moving to SR, so exciting!!” and “So excited to hear you’re moving here! The biggest draw card to PP will no longer exist!”

Larwill and family moved to Phnom Penh in January 2009, and opened Bloom Training & Cafe in 2010. Ruth Larwill told World Pulse, “We teach young girls rescued from brothels in the art of cake decoration and sugar craft. The girls are extremely talented and it such a joy to see them become the women they were destined to be.” Bloom is an initiative of the Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane, and according to The Willow Creek Association, “Bloom is a Christ-centred ministry whose doors are open to anyone in need of help. Women at risk and victims of trafficking from any religion and all backgrounds are welcomed without prejudice.”

Some girls who work or have worked at Bloom have been rescued by the International Justice Mission (IJM) and this organisation says its “staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible's call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Ruth Larwill told Willow Creek Association that “some of the guys” from IJM “work in the field doing the undercover/rescue work in Cambodia.”

McDermott Gallery Old Market will host a two day charity exhibition in aid of the Ballangk Commune on March 17-18.

The exhibition will be held in collaboration with Singapore’s ground-breaking Republic Polytechnic educational institution. Students from the Republic Polytechnic are in town spending one week in the community as part of a service learning trip.

The students wish to create awareness of the Ballangk Commune in Prasat Bakong District through a photography project showcasing works by the local school children to an international audience.

Each child was equipped with a camera and encouraged to take photographs of people and places that have significance to them. A selection of these photos will be on exhibition and for sale, with all proceeds benefiting their school.

Republic Polytechnic’s assistant manager in Centre for Enterprise and Communication, Joyce Loh, says, “In addition to bringing international awareness to the Ballangk Commune, we also hope to uncover opportunities for eco-tourism. Through the lens worked by the children, we will glean knowledge of the local culture as well as potential places of interest.”

Anjali House students will launch their latest magazine at Shinta Mani Hotel this evening at 6.30pm. This is the fifth edition of the creative little magazine and is inspired by the theme of travel, plus a visit to the circus.

The magazine is part of Anjali’s Creative Writing program founded by American author Sue Guiney. The program is now in its third year and Sue has just completed this year’s first workshop with students. She will give an introduction at the launch.

She will also have a new book published this year which is set in Siem Reap, the second of an eventual trilogy, following on from the Cambodia-based Clash of Innocence released in 2010.


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