23 November 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Deaths in Phnom Penh

I am looking forward to the day that the BBC and all of the world’s networks are featuring Cambodia for a very positive story. Yesterday’s tragedy, a human stampede which left around 350 people dead in the nation’s capital, is yet another heart-breaking story from this place I have been living in and learning about for the past 5 years. Cambodia gets featured for ongoing tragedies, like last week’s article on the Guardian’s site about orphanages which are turning profits for “owners” who give little to no care to the children living there. It gets featured around the world for judicial remnants of the tragedies of the Khmer Rouge. And yesterday, the Bon Om Touk festival, which should have been a celebration for the nation, brought worldwide attention to Cambodia about yet another great loss of lives.

I got emails today from friends around the world, some I had not heard from in a number of years, checking to see if I am ok.

I am ok.

So are all of our staff at PEPY.

(I am thankful that so many people care about us and our families.)

It seems that many of the deaths were of people from the provinces surrounding Phnom Penh who had traveled great distances to see the city and enjoy the festival. They had left families behind to celebrate their free and growing nation. They came to see the King who waves to the oarsmen as they paddle by in the boat races. They came all the way to the city, many for the first time, so these were the ones who stayed to the end – to see the final ceremony, on a newly created island built on “contested” land.

The people of Phnom Penh are lighting incense throughout the streets tonight as the nation mourns. May they all live to see stories of joy, success, innovation, and prosperity reach the worlds ears from their country.