Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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In Lowell, Plans for a $10 Million Pagoda

Pin SisovannVOA Khmer

A campaign in Lowell hopes to raise $10 million for a new pagoda in the city.

Fundraising officially began over the Cambodian New Year last month for Wat Khmer in Lowell, which would also act as a cultural and community center, organizers say.

Maya Men, a member of the fundraising committee, which counts 12 monks among its 162 members, said the hope is to raise $10 million in three to five years.

In the past, different factions have vied for control of the old pagoda, but Men said she belied the new project will unite the community.

“Cambodian Buddhists see that what we are going to build will become a heritage for the younger generation, as well as a shelter for aged grandfathers and grandmothers,” she said.

Samkahn Khoeun, another member of the committee, said the project will join all parties, who have split in the past over their varying Buddhist practices, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The new pagoda will serve as a learning center about Buddhism, he said.

Venerable monk Nhem Kim Teng, who came from Cambodia to take part in the fundraiser and other events, said the young need to learn more about Khmer culture to understand their parents, and a new pagoda can help. “Thus interaction in the family will be better,” he said.

Sao Khon, head of the fundraising committee, said the property where the pagoda will sit cost $1.25 million for five hectares and a house. The design and architecture for the pagoda will cost more than $700,000.

Until now, fundraising was conducted “like whispering in someone’s ear,” he said, but with more public efforts, “more funding will come.”

Individual donors and families will see their names carved into the pagoda’s statuary, he said, and fortune will smile on them in the next life. More than 1,000 statues were added over the New Year, he said.

“My life and yours are not uncertain or vulnerable,” he said. “When we die, our souls have Buddhism.”

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Cambodia Foreign Minister UN Speech Touches More on World Issues, Less on Cambodiai
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29 September 2014
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong's speech to the UN’s General Assembly on Monday in New York touches more on world issues and less on Cambodia. Before delivering his speech at UNGA, Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia was now enjoying peace and political stability after the two winning political parties in 2013 election had agreed to work together. His speech comes as Cambodia’s profile on the world stage has expanded in recent years. Cambodia has and improved economy and a growing participation in UN missions around the world. But Hor Namhong’s speech also comes amid deep criticism of Cambodia’s human rights record and a controversial agreement with Australia to help it resettle refuges in exchange for aid money. (VOA Khmer's Pin Sisovann, Washington)

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