By Caitlyn Collins | September 13, 2011
Dear Smells Like Screen Spirit readers, I hope you will allow me a few words that have nothing to do with films, but is as dear to me as writing for this site. I am part of an awesome volunteer project and Dave Campbell, SLSS editor, is allowing me the opportunity to tell you all about it.
Austin2Angkor is a group of six volunteers with a goal of raising $50,000, with the support from the kind folks at Edge of Seven, through events, corporate sponsorships and generous donations to help the Build Your Future Today (BFT) Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The project started when my good friend Roni traveled around Southeast Asia for two months and absolutely fell in love with the country. She graciously volunteered her time at BFT teaching a group of children how to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
Following the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979, the toll on the people of Cambodia was immense. Most of those remaining had lost members of their families, leaving countless widows and orphans. In addition, many were left disabled from the war and its after effects such as land mines. The people faced many obstacles in resuming a normal life such as illness, lack of education and in particular poverty. Moreover, the psychological trauma from years of war, compounded by the enduring suffering of many survivors, began to manifest in dangerous behaviors. An increase was seen in drug and alcohol addiction, the spread of communicable and venereal diseases, violence within families, smuggling and/or sexual abuse of children, as well as other criminal activities.
Worried by this horrific crisis, Prof. Sedtha Long established the Build Your Future Today Centre (BFT). Sedtha’s life is nothing short of an inspiration. Despite experiencing suffering and hardship during the Khmer Rouge regime in addition to 12 years as a refugee at the Cambodia-Thai border camps, he has continually demonstrated determination and care for his fellow people.
The BFT Center, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia is a local non-governmental organization recognized by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Education and Youth, unaffiliated with any religious or political party. BFT is highly committed to providing the opportunity for people, especially children who have been living through hardship and poverty, to adopt effective solutions to improve their lives. This is built upon two principles. First, that “Knowledge is Hope”, and second “Peace is Development”.
Our goal of $50,000 will help build three much needed structures for BFT – a Community Training Center, Safe Mothers and Child Care Center and a Learning Center. You can help us reach our goal by donating here. Check out our website for more details, to read about the volunteers and get further information on BFT.
If you need further inspiration, I highly recommend reading First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. It’s a harrowing tale, but is one that should be read by all. We thank you in advance for your support!