Christmas day. What does it mean to the children of Cambodia? In Siem Reap, the tourist base for two million tourists to go and explore Angkor Wat each year, the big hotels have put up well-lit Christmas trees and locals are standing in family groups, having their photos taken. There’s an excitement, and Cambodia (which celebrates three New Years – Western, Chinese and Khmer) is not above borrowing festivals from other countries.
At the SOC today there is going to be a Christmas party for the 51 children in our care, as well as children from the Happy Sunshine Home and older students from Siem Reap. They love parties! Savong told me there will be games, plenty of food and music.
Even though much support for Savong’s organisation comes from overseas, we try to keep religion out of our influence – we want to encourage the local culture – but in this case Christmas was not thrust upon these children; the idea for the party came locally. Christmas is in the air just as surely as Hip Hop is on Cambodian radio.
Today marks a good day to think about these children. Messages of love, of hope, of respect are surely universal.