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23 Jun 2010

Around the World in 80 Dumps

Around the World in 80 Dumps: Small Steps Project from Amy Hanson on Vimeo.

On our recent training weekend 'Preparing to Volunteer' we explored the concept of development, what it means and who are the winners and losers. In addition we considered the notion of 'sustainable development' and this brought into question the sustainability of the development that we in the West benefit from.  This forthcoming film from Amy Hanson's Small Steps project explores some of these themes through the very tangible output of this development, the waste that we produce.

Amy's project started in Cambodia which is where we're going to do our voluntary work, here is the film she made about her experience there.

18 Jun 2010

Pub Quiz

We're kicking off our fundraising efforts for VSO with a pub quiz and raffle on Wednesday, 21st July in Camden, London.  Get your team together and sharpen your pencils and minds for a night of puzzles, pizzas and prizes.  Full details of the pub quiz here.

If you can't make it but would like to support our fundraising then you can do so via our Just Giving page.

17 Jun 2010

Disability Rights in Cambodia

The Cambodian Government has confirmed that it will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities after intervention from VSO’s Parliamentarian Volunteer Sharon Hodgson and pressure from development agencies.

Designed to abolish discrimination, the convention will encourage legislation and action plans protecting the rights of disabled people, many of whom have lost limbs after stepping upon un-cleared landmines.

A direct response to international pressure from VSO and other development charities, the policy shift paves the way for equal rights for disabled people and should open up education, health care and employment opportunities.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, volunteered during her summer recess in Cambodia in 2009 as part of VSO’s Parliamentarian Volunteering Scheme. She worked with the Disability Action Council using her political experience to support the campaign, persuading previously reluctant Ministers to adopt the treaty.    She said:
“This is very good news and gives me hope for the future prosperity of disabled people living in Cambodia.  It is a huge milestone.“

Currently there are around 550,000 disabled people living in Cambodia, many of whom do not have adequate access to education, health care and employment and are often excluded from society.  Three decades of war has left a legacy of un-cleared landmines across Cambodia ensuring it has one of the worst landmine problems in the world.

The Convention currently has 145 signatories and was launched in December 2006.

Original story on VSO Website.

8 Jun 2010

Sex Trafficking in Cambodia

This article offers a comprehensive and disturbing account of the severity and extent of trafficking women in and out of Cambodia to work in the sex industry.  It cites some shocking statistics along the way to back up the overall line of argument which is that the underlying social factors driving this trade need to be tackled alongside the introduction (and enforcement) of legal measures.  It is difficult to believe that this issue is regarded as lower priority than other human rights concerns in the country but this is what the author argues.  In conclusion we are given:

"Although the Cambodia government and local and international NGOs have made strides towards addressing Cambodia's trafficking problem, these efforts have focused primarily on legal solutions. Certainly stronger and more comprehensive anti-trafficking laws as well as better law enforcement are needed. However, legal solutions, acting alone will not be sufficient to address the underlying causes of trafficking namely poverty, gender inequality, corruption and under-education. Rather, legal responses must be complemented by prescriptive development measures focusing on widening the
knowledge, skill sets, and career options available to women. Only when women have enough viable alternatives to prostitution and the necessary education and political clout to serve as their own advocates will trafficking be abated."

Download and read here.

6 Jun 2010

River of Time

Sam has just finished reading Jon Swain's River of Time.  The book describes his journey working as a journalist in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand during much of the conflict and violence in the region during the 1970s.  It is a real eye opener and left both a sense of his love for the lands around the Mekong river (our placement is in Kratie which is on the bank of the river), but also the tragedy of what took place there.  It is almost impossible to comprehend the horror of what the Cambodian people went through in the years leading upto and during the rule of the Khmer Rouge.  This book offers some insight in a compelling and easy to read way.  Recommended.