Celebration of the Children’s Day and Peace Rally
An annual event in the border commune of Prek Chrey
After half a year of first activities with the children and villagers in Prek Chrey in 2006, KCD organised the first Celebration of the Children’s Day and Peace Rally on 1st June 2007. It was to spread the ground messages about inter-ethnic peace and the right to go to school for all children living in the commune in both communities, the Khmer and the Vietnamese.
Because of its success, this celebration constitutes now a highlight of the social life in the commune as it has been repeated in 2008, 2009, and in 2010. In the following are some points that characterise this annual event:
Goals of the Celebration
This festivity is a contribution in reducing the hostile feelings of the Khmer inhabitants of Prek Chrey towards the Vietnamese majority, which is living on the territory of the commune. On the other hand, it shall foster the attention of the Vietnamese for the concerns of the Khmer community. KCD decided to give the priority to the work with the children of both communities, because they are better able than their parents are to abandon old clichés and to achieve the necessary change of mentality.
The Preparation Phase
Inspired through the success of similar peace activities all over the world, KCD decided to combine the preparation phase of the celebration with a five weeks training (starting after the festivities of the Khmer New Year in the middle of April) with the children of both communities. The offered activities are sport training for Khmer-Vietnamese mixed teams in football and volleyball as well as drawing and painting on the theme of peace and training perfor-mances showing the specific culture of each community and the children’s
rights issues in the commune.
In order to participate, the children need to apply together with a child of the
other community and to commit to take care for each other.
Here are eight of the Khmer-Vietnamese children couples.
1) Football and Volleyball Training
KCD invites children from both communities to participate in the training. Condition is that each child applies together with a member of the other community. Moreover, each child shall take care for his/her chosen partner, especially in case of conflict with members of the own community.
In addition, KCD asks those young people from Prek Chrey who are able to speak both languages to become key persons in cases of conflict between the children. Each of them is trained on conflict mitigation before supervising a children’s team. Many of the “peacemakers” are bilingual children belonging to the Prek Chrey Children’s Club Solidarity for Peace (read more about PCCSP) also called the Peace Club.
Girls have been especially encouraged to enroll. In the beginning, a surprise was that Vietnamese girls showed no interest for volleyball, a sport in which the Khmer are knonw for their good results, and all of them wanted to play football. Since 2009 Khmer girls feel now encouraged to play football too. Even some “double-mixed” teams have been formed, in which Khmer and Vietnamese boys and girls play together.
Girls in Prek Chrey are fond of playing football.
As all training teams do, they like to conform to those rituals encouraging fairplay and friendship on the sports ground.
2) Painting and Drawing Pictures upon the Theme of Peace
A design teacher, teachers of the primary school and a group of young people from Prek Chrey speaking both languages and accompanying the work of KCD take care of the children of both communities about the meaning of this topic.
On the day of celebration – the Sunday lying at the nearest to the 1st June – the children who participated in the different trainings, their friends, many of their parents, and the School and Local Authorities join together for a day presenting as well official speeches as plays, games, exhibitions and competitions.