A Colourful Kingdom
As the Doulos crew stepped on Cambodian ground, the Minister of Tourism, His Excellency So Mara greeted the male crew members with a traditional scarf, and the female crew members with a flower garland on their head. “Thank you for the 2nd return of MV Doulos to the Kingdom of Cambodia !” said His Excellency. Dark red and yellow flower petals floated across the pavement as five dancers from Ta Yarm in gold and red costumes danced for the dignitaries and crew. Drummers and a flute player gave the crew a taste of Khmer culture as a picture of Angkor Wwat was handed to the Captain and Director. “We wish to have you again and again,” said His Excellency with all sincerity.
Sihanoukville Official Opening
Solita Tan Chan, the first Cambodian to serve as a Doulos volunteer, watched intently as His Excellency Mr. Sbong Sarath, Governor of Sihanouk Province, spoke as the Guest of Honour at the Official Opening in Sahanoukville. The development of the country in the two and a half years since Doulos’ first visit shows, “ Cambodia is a peaceful country,” said Governor Sbong Sarath.
Last time the ship was in Sihanoukville, there wasn’t a Cambodian on the ship. But, 49 different ports later, on Doulos’ return to the city, Director Daniel Chae ( South Korea ) said of the Cambodian’s presence on the ship, “Here, I can see the determination of your people to build a future.” Governor Sbong Sarath responded, “Please come back!”
Doulos Runs Against HIV/AIDS
Doulos crew got involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS by participating in a 10km run. “I am very delighted to welcome you to Cambodia ” said Sihanoukville Red Cross Representative Sok kom. As the crew and locals stretched behind the starting line, they were briefed that one in thirteen Cambodians have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS. Instead of coming as tourists, the crew has come to Sihanoukville to pay attention to patients with HIV/AIDS. After Sok kom said, “On behalf of the patients with HIV/AIDS, I want to thank you!”, the starting gun blew and the race began. First place went to Karl Hoopmann ( Australia ) 42:18, second place to Lukas Meier ( Switzerland ) 43:07 and third place to Martin Zurcher ( Switzerland ) 43:15.
A Promise Fulfilled
After driving many hours on pot-hole roads to Sandek Primary School in Kompong Cham Province , 550 curious elementary students awaited the Doulos crew. Rulers, pencils, bright pencil cases, soap, and toothbrushes were handed to every pupil in attendance that day. In their whole life, most of these little scholars had never seen items like these with coloured ink. Other gifts were reserved for teachers and for rewards for students who displayed good behaviour in the classroom. Hoy Sopheap Bureau Chief of INGOs MFALIC said to the team, “Not all donors fulfil their promises in helping this village school, but you did.” As the crew climbed into their dusty van, Acting Principal Bou Samath said, “I bid you all the best!”
Hope for Life
At 5:30 in the morning, the kids at St. Elizabeth House of Family wake up and start their day. These Khmer orphans have HIV/AIDS and need to take medication at odd hours in order to survive. The School of Public Health and Social Work for this HIV/AIDS Program for Children does a great job taking care of the children’s health and academic development, but as Dr. Julia Vujcikova said, “Our budget is not so big.” After a fun kid’s program, the Doulos crew gave each child a school bag filled with school supplies, soft toys, and clothes. “From you, our children can get knowledge, something interesting and hope for life,” said a pleased House of Family Director Vichet. “Thank you!”