The Cambodian people celebrated Khmer New Year from 13 to 15 April 2012. Many AFESIP residents returned home to celebrate this holiday with their families and relatives, however for those who stayed at our centres over the break, we took the residents out to participate in special activities for the Khmer New Year celebration.
Somaly Mam, Founder and President of AFESIP Cambodia, staff and members of Voices for Change spent their 3-day holiday at Kompong Cham Centerto celebrate with the children. Somaly said : “ This year again I devote my holidays and life with my children at Kompong Cham center ”. “ I love them the most, because they are little and innocent ones ”, she added.
The morning of the first day, the center prepared food and dessert for the monks at the pagodas. The children and girls wearing traditional costumes and scarves were brought out to the pagodas.
They walked side by side along the road to a nearby pagoda, carrying containers of food and dessert prepared. Reaching the pagoda, they entered a large hall where many monks sat in line in front of bowls with a variety of food, offered by the villagers. As others, Somaly, Sochenda, manager of the center, staff, girls and children, shifted food from the containers to plates and bowls and offered to the monks, who then prayed for their ancestors to receive the offerings and for luck and prosperity for the believers.
In the same event, Siem Reap Center staff also took some of the residents out for 3 days to various recreational resorts which are teamed with century-old temples. They mostly visited Mony Sethyaram, Wat Prasat Bakong, Wat Meta Karuna, Wat Atvea and Wat Chak pagodas, Srah Srang, Phnom Bok and Baray Tuk Thla Resorts. They also participated in the popular dance organized by the pagodas and played different popular games.
Let’s look at the center in Phnom Penh, what were they doing with the residents. Yes it is not different from the other two centers in Siem Reap and Kompong Cham. Mr. Mam Khon, the manager of the center and his staff spent full days working with them. They took them to the pagodas and Ta Mao Zoo in Takeo province, and in the evening, the dance began until late at night.
After the new year ends, the residents come back to the centers and start their training again. The dutiful staff during the new year are allowed to have days off for compensation.