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Khmer Preservation Group Praised in US

Friends of Khmer Culture, Inc., is, according to its motto, “dedicated to supporting the artistic and cultural heritage of Cambodia.” And judging by a recent fundraiser of the US-based preservation group, in the state of Maryland, it’s a motto with a lot of support.

The group “was founded to address these areas that have been neglected by the major donors,” Franklin Huffman, well-known author of “Modern Spoken Cambodian”and an English-Khmer dictionary, told VOA Khmer at the fundraising gathering. The group was established in 2000 by people concerned about the survival of Cambodia’s artistic and cultural heritage.

The group supports training programs for the restoration of the temples of Banteay Chhmar, in Banteay Meanchey province, and of young Cambodian students for conservation work.

While everyone has heard of Angkor Wat, Huffman said, Cambodia has hundreds of other temples and archeological sites across the country.

Hem Heng, Cambodian ambassador to the US, who attended the fundraising ceremony, said he was please to see Cambodians and the US get together to help Cambodia’s temples, which were damaged by the war.

“This is a pleasant opportunity for me to participate in this important fundraising, to help conserve and restore our Khmer temples,” Hem Heng said. “This organization not only helps restore and conserve temples, but also trains people, which is a good gesture.”

Narin Seng Jameson, a member of the group’s advisory council and organizer of the gathering, told VOA Khmer she was happy to see so many supporters. The money from fundraising will support the publication of Khmer arts and culture.

“This proves that we Khmer love our culture and our country very much,” she said.

Friends of Khmer Culture works with Cambodian institutions to support “all forms of Khmer cultural expression and work with Cambodian and international scholars, artists, and institutions to preserve past achievements and encourage new vitality in art, literature, scholarship, and the performing arts.”

The hope, the group says, is to “rebuild civil society and enhance awareness and appreciation of Khmer culture both within and beyond Cambodia.”