While writing the previous post, I realized that I’ve never posted my video of the art program at Wat Opot. The video briefly features Jon Sochea (Lankrome), the boy who recently died of AIDS, and I’ve since dedicated it to him. The art program is for kids at Wat Opot and from the surrounding community. I shot it at a community art party where experienced students helped others experience painting on canvas. Many of the participants were painting for the first time, and sometimes the results were surprising. I thought Lankrome’s painting was the best of the day. The teacher is arguably one of Cambodia’s best artists, but he has chosen obscurity. He was one of the founders of Phare Ponleu Selpak, Cambodia’s rising art school in Battambang. Now he wants to bring art in pure form, minus commercialization and fame, to the rural poor in Cambodia. This video is a rough effort done in a hurry, but if you like watching kids discover art, or wonder how rural poor children respond to art, you may well enjoy watching it.
Andrew Sullivan posted last week about How to Survive a Plague, a documentary about the AIDS epidemic in America. Then a follow-up post with reader comments caught my attention. They were reflecting on a terrible crisis that has largely passed in America. One person wrote about his daily dose of Complera: “One pill. Every morning. Forever. And I’ll be fine.” How wonderful for him.
I typed the following response:
My friend died of AIDS on April 25 this year. Unlike your reader, he wasn’t taking Complera but a combination of outdated drugs every morning and evening. The drugs themselves were attacking his organs over time. He was only nine. He is survived by his older sister and many friends who are also living with HIV.
The long term survival of all my young friends living with HIV is very much in question today, because they are poor. A decade ago life saving ARV’s were finally produced for the poor, and today they are still taking the same drugs. There are only two levels of treatment available for them. I hate to think what will happen when the kids on second level treatment start failing, and the time will come.
These are the guys who can help make your tuk-tuk as good as new again. See the black and white version below.
I’ve been busy lately doing things that I hope will have a positive impact here in Cambodia. I’m working on a video project that will educate people about alternative care strategies for orphans and vulnerable children beyond orphanages and children’s centers. There is a rising call in the developing world to move away from institutions toward family based care, and I want to help educate people about the options. I hope to have the video ready by the end of the summer.
I took this shot while I was out gathering scenes of life in Phnom Penh. For some time I have wanted to photograph Cambodians at work at all levels. Cambodia has been cast as a country of endless corruption and poverty, but my overall impression is one of hard work and honesty.
This is the first recipe I’ve posted in a long time. I’m going to start posting simple recipes using ingredients easily available in Phnom Penh. I don’t claim to be a great cook, but I love to eat. I like recipes that are simple, economical, and taste good (to me). Feel free to post a review or suggestions.
This recipe makes a very tasty pot of stewed lentils with pork and vegetables. It’s a huge amount in order to provide leftovers for days, so you might want to cut the recipe in half, especially if you don’t have a really big wok and/or stock pot.
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- The spices I used: a pinch of sage, a few shakes of thyme, even more shakes of parsley, more shakes of ground oregano, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of goram masala (I buy cheap spices at the grocery store in Paragon and all kinds of Indian spices at the India/Bangladesh grocer on Street 282 just 50 meters west of 63 in BKK)
- 1 (28 ounce) can of tomatoes (whole or crushed)
- 4-5 cups dry
Sovanna Phum, in Phnom Penh, is one of the venues keeping the traditional art of shadow puppets alive and well in Cambodia. As you can see in my portfolio and other posts, the artists at Sovanna Phum make their own small and large shadow puppets. In fact, Kosal, the director, is perhaps the leading master of this art in the country. I took all these photographs at a recent performance of small shadow puppets.
Past the pond and brooding tree
cross the sand and clay muck
where oxen wander
in brush caverns
from a baked paddy
lash bundled heaps and enter
water brown as skin
cool as coffee
after a long morning
and float under the brooding tree
and Cambodian sun