30 January 08
First of all my wife and I are so happy to return today to see all of as well as to see the progress made in the Arun Rah Children Village (ARCV) and also to engage in a TV interview program for a TV station in Hong Kong - Star World.
I am so taken by joy to have heard a welcoming report by Ms Geraldine Cox, director of ARCV in fluent Khmer language. Ms Cox has indeed been offered the Khmer nationality already. I also thank Kongkea who represents all other orphan children who have been staying in ARCV. I am so pleased to have seen that you all are living happily in the village which it consists of an area of ten hectares. If we were to sell it we would make a lot of money but as pointed in the request, the land will not be sold but kept for your livelihood. We have honored ARCV a contract that will last for 70 years in using land provided for this purpose.
The village has actually been here ten years already or six years from the day of inauguration. We should think of making this village a sustainable one. Of cause as you can see that my wife and I, as well as other leaders in the village here are getting older but we hope there will be someone to take on this task. We call it like an orphanage but in fact the facility has also been welcoming children of the poor as well. They have enjoyed not only the livelihood but also education.
As said by the children representative Kongkea just now, at the time when the first settlement was re-claimed by the owner, the children and the Arun Rah Children Village were ordered to move out. How can they be sustainable when they do not have even a facility on which to function? That is why at that moment we took a timely strategic solution to get a piece of land not for one or two months or years, but for a long time that guided us to get for the village a size of ten hectares. This solution will be long lasting. When the center grows bigger, its reputation would attract help from other sources and in the later stage it would be transformed into a vocational training and social assistance development center, so to speak.
After ten years' time, my wife and I - you may consider us your mother and father - are so happy to see that some of you have graduated and are getting on with life taking jobs in factories or companies, etc. Some of you are in your study. I would urge those who have grown up, married or teenagers to look after those who are still small and young. As we learned about and suffered from orphan condition, we then know best other people's difficulties when they are born into this life without parents and in poverty. I used to be a boy lived and fed by the Buddhist monks patronage in the pagoda, being separated from family, becoming a stranger to my own child, so what you have gone through so far have been well understood.
It is in this concept that I urge those grown up and married, or teenagers to look after younger ones and give them appropriate guidance so that they could be elevated from being dependent to independent and to take on more responsibilities for the center or the country as a whole. We still have more children to take care of ranging from those left from the Pol Pot's regime, who have turned to be at least 28 years old, through to those became orphans due to war, accidents, disasters, diseases, etc.
Indeed I am glad to hear that ARCV also has its projects to replicate similar centers in Siemreap province and in Sihanoukville. I am also thankful to many generous persons as listed by Ms Geraldine Cox of their contributions. I think this is something that Khmer of all political tendencies could do so as to help Khmers. Is it not possible that the Khmer share their resources to help others? We should not keep ignoring the fact that foreign friends help us to deal with our own problem. We should be ashamed for that if we, who are of the same flesh and blood, let others do what we as the country's owners should and are able to.
As a leader of the country, in the past 29 years I have traveled to many countries to beg for help, but some Khmers also went there to ask those friends to give us less assistance or none at all. We tried to build this country but they have been happy to do something on the contrary or to destroy it.
However, I would in this instance urge you, who have not finished your study yet, to keep up studying and not to drop school. I would suggest HE Sien Borat, my advisor on education affairs, to screen my scholarships offered by various private tertiary institutions to get them places according to their wishes and intelligent abilities. I also urge you to stay healthy and not to carry HIV/AIDS into the center, to use no drug or bring it to Arun Rah and not to make friends with gangsters.
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen also brought for them foodstuff and some financial tip for each children and also stuff of ARCV.