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For Cambodian Poor, Small Celebrations at New Year

While many of Cambodia's affluent passed New Year with trips home, feasts, games and drinking, some of Cambodia's poorest families found no room to celebrate.

Ea Meth, a resident of Ek Phnom town, Battambang province, said told VOA that, with no rice field to farm, he picks water greens for 5,000 riel per day, a little more than $1, to feed his five children.

"I have no rice field to farm. I live by working for other people," he said. "I have nothing."

The Cambodian New Year is a lunar holiday that coincides with the end of the harvest season, traditionally when farmers had time to relax and be thankful.

Sixty-three-year-old Neang Nap of Ek Phnom sat in a hut in the middle of a rice field with his elderly mother for New Year. He had no children to support him, he said.

He did not go anywhere for the New Year, other than offer some food to monks, a tradition of the holiday, he said.

"I am destitute. I cannot make ends meet," his aging mother said. "I ask the government to help me."