Long Beach, Calif., has been selected as one of 14 cities in California to receiving funding and other assistance from the California Endowment to build healthier communities, including schools. The city stands to gain tens of millions of dollars in the coming years. But first they have to ask themselves, what does a healthy school look like? A group of Cambodian-American university students met at a local Long Beach restaurant over the Christmas holiday to share their experiences, so that when they enter the professional world, they’ll have a Cambodian network. Meetings for how to create healthy communities, and build better schools, are ongoing. There are working groups for better neighborhoods, schools and air quality. The next meeting for the schools working group is on Jan. 14. More information can be found at www.bhclongbeach.org. (Cheang Sophinarath, Long Beach)
Cambodian filmmaker Chhay Bora, who debuted in 2010 with “Lost Loves,” has produced a new film that explores the impacts in the country of prostitution and human trafficking. The new film is an attempt to inform Cambodians, especially those in rural areas, about the dangers of sending their daughters to work in Phnom Penh or abroad. “Many people in the rural areas have often been deceived by a small number of people who told them their daughters would work in a restaurant, when in fact they were forced into prostitution,” Chhay Bora told VOA Khmer in a Skype interview. “We want to send them an important message, and that message is that you have to be smart, you have to know who the recruiters really are, where they actually live, and how to contact them,” he said. Families should look for local jobs that may be better than jobs far from home, he said. Another important message of the film is to encourage Cambodians to respect and value the lives of others, and to not purchase young girls at the cost of their future, he said. “We also do not want the world to think of Cambodia as a sex industry,” he said. “We want the world to think that we have a respectful culture and civilization. People should come to visit Cambodia as real tourists, not as sex tourists.” Chhay Bora is currently in the US, attending the Palm Springs International Film Festival to screen “Lost Loves.” (Poch Reasey, Washington)
Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut could affect some Khmer Rouge survivors living in the United States, according to Bunrath Math, a clinical social worker in Philadelphia. More than 200,000 Cambodians resettled in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of them were survivors of the Khmer Rouge. And many lost family members under the regime. Some of have spent years trying to get over the trauma. Some never have. VOA Khmer's Poch Reasey reports.