Programe 2008
Children’s Day
Campaign Against Dengue
Campaign Going to School

Celebration of the international Children’s Day
June 1st, 2007  

in
Prek Chrey Commune, Koh Thom District,
Kandal Province, Cambodia  

Organized by

KHMER COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
 

Address: #43B (from 2007/12/15: #12C), St.408, Tuol Tompoung I, Cham Karmon, Phnom Penh.

Tel: Office: 023 358 177; Manager Chan Sokha: 012 478 381

Finance Officer Mom Rachany: 012 596 827; Adviser Alain Fressanges: 012 216 386

Email: youth_kcd@yahoo.com  (Adviser: alain.fressanges@uni-bielefeld.de)

Supported by






Heinrich Boell Foundation Church World Service German Civil Peace Service American Friends Service Committee French Embassy
1. Introduction

On June 1st, 2007 was hold the international Children’s Day in Prek Chrey with a first big jamboree of the children from the two communities living there: the Cambodian and Vietnamese.

The NGO ‘Khmer Community Development’, Phnom Penh, organized the celebration that is a part of the 10 months program of KCD „Promotion of Child’s Rights and Peace Building in the Commune of Prek Chrey“, supported by FSD (Fond Social de Développement of the French Embassy), the German ZFD (Civil Peace Service, an organization settled in the DED, the German Development Service) and the American peace organization AFSC (American Friends Service Committee).

Furthermore, this celebration has been especially financially supported by the German Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Heinrich Boell Foundation) and the American CWS (Church World Service).

2. Goals of the Celebration

This festivity constitutes the first step for reducing the hostile feelings of the Khmer inhabitants of Prek Chrey towards the Vietnamese majority, which established itself 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 will be able more easily than their parents to abandon the old clichés and to achieve a change of mentality.

3. The Preparation Phase

The grounding of the work carried on for 5 weeks up to the 1st of June and consisted of drawing and painting on the theme of peace as well as of a sport training of Khmer-Vietnamese mixed teams in football and volleyball.

  3.1. Painting and Drawing Pictures upon the Theme of Peace
The teachers of Prek Chrey and a group of young people speaking both languages, that shall accompany the work of KCD, informed the children of both communities about the meaning of this matter and distributed paper and pencils. They also announced that an exhibition with their pictures would be organized on Children’s Day. Fifty five children enrolled: 38 Khmer and 17 Vietnamese.
  3.2. Football and Volleyball Training:

The children from both communities were invited through posters in both languages to participate to the training. A condition for their participation was that each child applies together with a member of the other community. This condition caused less problems than expected, even when from both sides displeasure has been expressed as the children heard, they should not play in “national” teams.

Girls have been especially encouraged to enroll. A surprise was that Vietnamese girls showed no interest for volleyball, all of them wanting to play football. Therefore some “double-mixed” teams have been formed, in which Khmer and Vietnamese boys and girls played together.

 


Before training

Only few Vietnamese wanted to play volleyball: this discipline is in Vietnam much less popular than under the Khmer. This is the reason why the parity could be met in only 2 of 4 volleyball teams.

Finally there were 6 football teams with 12-14 players each and 4 volleyball teams with 8-10 players each: altogether about 120 children and young people aged 10 to 16. In order to facilitate the communication inside of the groups, each team has been accompanied by a young minder able to speak both Khmer and Vietnamese.

  3.3. Remarks about the Organizing of the Celebration

For the further preparation KCD organized several meetings with the teachers of the Vietnamese children. Those children don’t visit the school in Prek Chrey, but are all going on the other side of the river at school in Vietnam. The Vietnamese teachers gave their advice about the program of the event and have been also asked to prepare little shows with their pupils as counterpart to the performances of the Khmer children.

A side-effect of these meetings was that the celebration was getting a bigger official frame as foreseen originally. At the end, not only the school executives and the authorities of both sides of the river had to be invited, but also governors of the Khmer and Vietnamese districts.

A faux-pas has been revealed at the day of the celebration as a member of the ministry of education of the province Kandal appeared unexpected and expressed her disapproval about the fact that she was not asked to hold a speech for the occasion.

4. The Celebration

General sight on place of event, before arriving of the “Officials”
  4.1. Place of the Event
It was held on the ground of the School of Prek Chrey, were two buildings are facing each other with a distance of 80 m between them (the long building on the left is under construction for the Secondary School). In front of the South building were erected 4 tents as a protection against the sun for the children and the official guests. The stage for the shows stood in their middle.

The part in front of the North building was reserved for the football field (volleyball field was on the East side), and under this building took place the exhibition of the children’s paintings and drawings as well as the photos of 28 of the Khmer-Vietname­se couples of children, who had found together in teams during the weeks before.

At the street alongside of the school ground and on the buildings, banners appealed in both languages to respect the rights of the children and to cultivate the friendship between both communities.

T-shirts, especially designed for the event, have been distributed among all participants.

  4.2. The Official part of the Celebration
  4.2.1 Participants

On the morning celebration 631 persons took part:
513 children, including 158 Vietnamese
28 teachers from of the commune and the neighboring, including 3 Vietnamese teachers
18 representatives of the parents of the Khmer children
12 members and volunteers from KCD
59 representatives of the authorities of the communes and the districts of both countries including 30 Vietnamese

1 Bonze: the Older from the Pagoda of Prek Chrey

The hall of the official guests
  4.2.2 Speeches

After the children of Prek Chrey have sung the Cambodian anthem, the officials hold their respective circumstantial speeches: The special theme of the Children’s Day of this year was Against Domestic Violence. This theme as well as the other Child’s Rights and the specific occasion about the Friendship between both communities have been mentioned in different evaluation by the speakers.
Speakers were:
The chief of the commune of Prek Chrey
The adviser of KCD Organization
The director of KCD
The vice director of the school of Prek Chrey (the director was ill)
The Governor of the district Koh Thom
The Governor of the Vietnamese district An Phou

A Khmer and a Vietnamese female pupil

In order to loose up the official part, children of both communities danced and sang at the beginning, in the course and at the end of this part of the program, which was lasting from 9 to 11 am.
  4.2.3 Exhibition, Football and Volleyball Games
After this, the guest visited the exhibition placed under the building on the opposite side and showed the pictures made by
visited the exhibition placed the opposite side and showed the children of both
communities about the theme of peace and 28 photos of the “international” couples formed by the children wan­ting to join the mixed teams.

The theme about the Peace has been inter­preted by the children on very different ways, and with sometimes quite individual techniques. In the ex­hibition stood out that, besides of plants, houses and women were the most pictu­red. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in South East Asia the idea of the “peacefully” is expressed by the Chinese ideogram showing a woman under a roof.

Five of the Khmer-Vietnamese children couples

On the plays grounds occurred then the first matches under the attendance of the children, some Cambodian parents and the official guests. Despite of increasing heath, the football and volleyball teams gave resolute games in which the common training showed its positive effects.  Strangers turned to partners holding together and using a common language: the one of well coordinated energy for the same goal.
As in the football game, short time before the final whistle the Blues scored the 3 to 3 equalizer against the Whites, both governors exchanged a satisfied shake hand, as the result would confirm the balance already reached inside of the teams.
  4.2.4 Afternoon
After the shared lunch that has been taken by about 140 children and guests, and after   the after-lunch sleep, which had to be hold because of the heath, the children of Prek        Chrey met again on the school ground; some Vietnamese children who are living       remotely on the bank of the Bassac River weren’t back yet. They would come later in the        evening in larger numbers.
Thus, the ones who were there already didn’t regret it, then they could discover and      participate to some Khmer traditional plays as for example “Hit the Jar of Clay” that is        to play blindfolded, or play roles about theme of the Child Rights.

The presenters from KCD coped with their task, whereas the young lady who had the     mission to translate       life for the Vietnamese guests had some pro­blems to follow the effervescent rhythm of the events. This seems not to disturb to much the young Vietnamese, then they call for explanations when need them in order not to lose the contact with the Khmer. After each play or song there were small presents for all participants.

  4.2.5 Evening
After the interruption for the dinner from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm not only the children came back in large numbers, but also some of their parents wanting to join the party and also to have a look on their children: Prek Chrey is not a dangerous place at night, but after sunset people thus fear the doings of the so called dandies (the young grown ups of the commune longing for some excitement). But in this evening the parental fears found no confirmation. And much of the Vietnamese children who participated during the day also came back now with their friends.
Under the still presenters took fashion show costumes, a traditional way of songs, dances and
lively leadership of KCD place the evening program: a with Khmer traditional demonstration of the ceremonial greeting, and also games.

Till the end of the program at about 11 pm an atmosphere of folk festival prevailed where the audience crowded around the stage, in order not to lose an occasion of produce themselves and snatch one of the small presents. Under the encou­ragement of KCD, some children had built a few stands where they could sell self-made objects or food. Unfortunately they couldn’t find enough customers, so that the NGO felt in duty to buy part of the unsold.

5. General remarks
  5.1. About the start of the preparation for the Children’s Day
At the beginning of the training, the children of both nationalities expressed their fears for the reason of their bad experiences in the past. There were not only the usual insults („Thief!“, „Liar!“, and also „A-yourn“ and „A-khmer“: „Yourn“ is the usual, unkind name for Vietnamese; the prefix „A“ is to enforce the insulting intention), but also the difficult problem of the diverging perception of social behavior of the Khmer and Vietnamese, which leads to misunderstanding. Constrained to close contact, both sides first restrained themselves and then could verify soon, that there were no actual reason for the wonted prejudices.
 
  5.2. Impressions from the Celebration

Children and adults of both communities spontaneous and repeatedly expressed their joy about this unique fair. Several times the members of KCD have been asked to repeat next year the Celebration of the Children’s Day together with the Vietnamese.

During the whole day, 90% of the Khmer inhabitants of Prek Chrey visited the fair: this are about 1,800 persons. One of the conclusions of this fact is that, even if there is some reluctance, there is also an undeniable curiosity from their side toward the Vietna­mese. Probably it was easier for them since the fair was happening on the ground of the primary school, which is on the Khmer part of the commune.
The children who had their first appearance on a stage expressed their pride for having song, danced and played in front of a bigger audience.

Children of both nationalities astonishing assessed that it was less difficult to play together as they feared at the beginning. The minders as well as the children testified that the use of hurtful insults significantly reduced between them. What is more: some children of both nationalities formed a solid friendship in the time of the past 5 weeks.

Lots of the children expressed their wish to continue the training for the next months under the conditions wanted by KCD (each child must have a partner from the other community).

As KCD found out in the last time, the children of both communities who have been training and playing together now greet and smile to each other friendly when their meet on the street.

  5.3. Insufficiencies of the Work

In the time of the preparation of the celebration, KCD wasn’t able to evaluate the full impact of the event on the regional level: knowing this now, this kind of problem should be reduced in the future through contacts with all administrative levels.

Nobody in the team of the interpreters was actually able to translate life during the official as well as during the entertaining parts of the celebration: in the future, KCD need to engage competent interpreters.

The Khmer presenters took not enough account of the Vietnamese audience, who sometime not really understood what was going on.

The Vietnamese inhabitants of the commune were not adequately informed about the event and participated therefore less than expected.

  5.4. Continuation of Peace Building in Prek Chrey
5.4.1 For the cooperation with the local and regional authorities, KCD must define a clear policy and then follow it. Furthermore a situation in which an authority appears without being better involved in the event, shall not occur one more time.
5.4.2 For the pursuing of the training and more generally of the Peace work in this year, KCD must engage competent Vietnamese speaking staff. The financial means for this have to be found as soon as possible.
5.4.3 It is to wish that a large meeting of the children of both communities can be organized soon, in which they have an opportunity to ask each other about the rules of politeness and conventions in use in the other community. This exchange shall be monitored by experts about the customs of each country.
5.4.4 A further going inquiry with young and older members of both communities shall be conducted soon, in order to confirm and deepen the knowledge about the impact of the celebration as well as more generally the impact of the Peace Building work in Prek Chrey.
  Top
#12C, St.408, Tuol Tompong II, Phnom Penh Phone: 023 358 177, 012 478 381 (Khmer/English) 012 216 386 (French/German/English) E-mail: youth_kcd@hotmail.com