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"In our small meetings, we have begun to realize we need to do something in that particular area of the world."
- Raj Ramaiya

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Cambodia

A Healing Journey to Cambodia
by Raj Ramaiya, 59, Daly City, California, USA
Jan 6, 2000

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On the first day of the ceremony it seemed like it might rain, so a blue canvas was put over the make shift sitting area. A cook and his family came over and were preparing meals. The 12 Buddhist monks also came to do the chantings. It was a very somber hot muggy day. By the late evening it began to cool off. They had arrange a dance too. Many people from the other re-settled villages came. Most look like young ex-soldiers and their families. For many years, the area has been a battleground for several factions. Since the simmering of war a few years back, many families were settling in the no man's land areas. We left the area around 10 pm. Next day we learned that the dances lasted till 4 am that morning.

On the fourth day the ceremony was winding down. I had brought some medicines from cash donations I had received in California. We requested the villlage elders permission to give away medicines and used clothes the two brothers had brought A lady involved with a sewing project from the town had joined us. She distributed the gifts to the needy families.

After that the families were more open in sharing and discussing their needs. One thing they felt the area needed was a school for their children. Next day we left the refugee area and since then we have all come back to our respective places in USA. In our small meetings, we have begun to realize we need to do something in that particular area of the world. To begin, a school for children would be a great possibility. We are now working as volunteers to help these families and hopefully others too.

The healing wounds of war. The families torn apart. The landless people. The refugees in the woods. And the children... the leaders of the future. Someday, hopefully they will have an opportunity to help others.

Since 1994, many Cambodian-Americans and their US friends have gone back to Cambodia to find their lost family members. Some have helped their own families. Others have helped the villages they came from. And many are generously helping with many projects that are short term, or run by local non-governmental organizations. Our work has been mostly in the rural areas. We have continous programs to assist the peasant farmers, provide funds for women's economic development projects, network with low-income housing groups and help build one room classrooms. Besides Cambodia we have also begun to work in Dominican Republic and in Ethiopia. If you'd like to help, please contact us or send your donation to: International Cultural Alliance, P. O. Box 2181, Daly City, CA 94017, USA   Email: icameera@hotmail.com

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