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Nieuwsbrief                                                                                                  november 2017


I have been back in Cambodia for a few weeks now. “The Kingdom of Wonder” as it is also called.

The first thing that came to mind when I arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport is the huge difference from, say, ten years ago. While the airport was then a simple warehouse with all the charms that entails, it has now changed into a modern advanced airport with all amenities and service facilities.

The arrival still gives me the warm feeling of being welcome. Good thing, too.

I spent the past six months in the Netherlands and experienced the elections from close by, as well as the cabinet formation. The same thing now awaits me in Cambodia, because national elections will also be held in this country in June 2018. And just like in the Netherlands, many activities are organized here by the political parties.


Immediately after I had my accommodation in order for the coming six months, I made a round of the projects. I have been informed about the current state of affairs. I have been updated on the developments of the past six months. I attended various consultation situations in which the exchange of experiences was central. In short, I got a first impression and it makes me happy.

A few years ago, we as a foundation chose to support our Cambodian partners in the process towards CBO status. In other words, a self-help group is no longer dependent on foreign donors and functions independently within their own commune and region. A number of self-help groups are currently in this Phase Out period and it was a great experience for me to see and hear that the deadline we have in mind for this Phase Out will actually be met.

This path that we have taken with the foundation fits in seamlessly with the new government policy that Charity Initiatives must become more independent from NGOs (Non Gouvernement Organisation) that are active in large numbers in this country.

Every time I fully enjoy the happy faces and the enthusiasm of people to want to learn in order to expand their knowledge and skills and increase the chance of a better and dignified existence.


But my stay among the poorest in Cambodia (of course) also has a downside. I am confronted daily with the fierce and harrowing living conditions of these poor and hopeless people. They share their needs and wants with me. They make me share in their deceased loved ones. In almost all cases I am then left empty-handed. And that often makes me sad, powerless and regularly angry. But then I think: the foundation is a Tree for Hope, and that is also worth a lot. Even if it is a drop in the ocean.


I was only recently in Cambodia and then a good friend’s wedding was on the agenda. I was invited to this special event and immediately promised to attend. I witnessed all the rituals surrounding the wedding and experienced how a village community is involved in such a special festivity.


Every year in November, the victories of King Jayvarman VII in the 12th century are commemorated. Because at that time many battles were fought on the water, the three-day festivities are called Water Festival.

Boat races (Bon Om Touk) are also organized during those days, with the finish in front of the royal palace. It is a competition between a number of boats from different provinces. The background to this is that the early kings wanted the strongest men in the land to fight those battles on the water. Before that, boat races were held. It is therefore originally a military test.

The festivities are concluded every year with an impressive fireworks show, also this year.

So enough to experience here.

Warm regards from Phnom Penh

Hans Bosch






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