By Bhakti Raghava Swami
We have but a few devotees serving in the Kingdom of Cambodia at their base camp in Siem Reap, the gateway to the former Khmer empire where some 200 intricately carved stone temples towered the skyline of this once most powerful Asian kingdom. Referred to as the cultural hot-spot on the planet, with over one million tourists flocking to the small town of Siem Reap throughout the year, the temple monuments which spread out over a few hundred square kilometers were placed under the UNESCO World Heritage in 1993. Just a few months back our devotees were able to secure a new location within 1.5 Km of the famed Angkor Wat, the largest Vishnu temple in the world and the most frequently visited of all the ancient monuments. From the balcony of our new premises we can have darshan of its five towering domes which reflect the original Mount Sumeru.
I first visited Cambodia in the year 2006. What amazed me at the time was the uniqueness of its culture with India. The Surabhi like cows, the picturesque green countryside, the Khmer language with its heavy accent of Sanskrit, the local customs mixed with Hinduism and Buddhism, the tropical climate with its heavy rainy season, the hundreds of young monks living in Pagodas (Buddhist temples), the large variety of fruit trees, especially coconut, the exotic sounds of hand-made musical instruments and the general mood of the Khmer people simply capture the hearts of any visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Visiting Cambodia at that time was like stepping back in India after being absent for some 13 years. It was like coming back home. To add additional charm to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the sacred Mekong River passes through a large track of land from the north to the south. Mekong means â€śmother Gangaâ€ť. Said to be the world’s 10th longest river and the 7th longest in Asia, the Mekong River originates from the Tibet Plateau, crossing China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Although the asrama facilities in Siem Reap are simple, the all embracing hearts of the Indonesian devotees serving in Cambodia since the last few years compensate for the lack of material comforts. With a few devotees visiting from Hong Kong recently, our local devotees have been inspired to take up book distribution, Harinam and food distribution all in one shot. The attached photos speak for themselves.
Devotees are engaged in a variety of activities including teaching English to the local Cambodian youths, growing their own organic food, doing some book distribution and general outreach programs in the villages. We are working closely with one of the local NGOs
â€śThe Voice and Development of Children-Youthsâ€ť (VDCY) whose Director is Mr. Keo Sophat, a local Cambodian family man who has been very supportive of our activities.
Our main devotee overseeing the activities in Cambodia is prabhu Kisora who is based in Bali. He spends four months at a stretch in Cambodia before again returning to Indonesia to oversee various rural based community projects.
We are anxious to help the local Khmer people. If any of you would like to assist in any way, either by spending some time in Cambodia, by sponsoring local Khmer books which we can distribute, by offering prasadam to the needy or by helping develop our existing farm community of 30 acres, you may kindly contact any of the following devotees who will be glad to give you whatever information you may need: Kisora prabhu in Indonesia, [firstname.lastname@example.org], Guna Avatara prabhu in Cambodia [email@example.com] and prabhu Sri Krishna Purusottama in USA, [firstname.lastname@example.org].
If any devotee wishes to visit Cambodia, our devotees will be happy to serve you, especially since vegetarian food is not easily available, what to speak of Krishna prasadam. Please contact our main coordinator, Guna Avatara prabhu who has been serving there non-stop for close to 3 years.
We also have a regular newsletter coming out called â€śAngkor Bulletinâ€ť, along with reports of our Yashodapura Asrama which we attach here as well below. You may get additional information at our website at www.bhakticambodia.com Hare Krishna.
MONTLY REPORT, APRIL 2011
BASE CAMP IN SIEM REAP
Organic Home Garden
We have got a plot for free of use to plant more organic vegetables. And since this 3 month we cultivate that land, plant beans, okra, corn, pumpkins, potato, and morning glory. Now they have been produced, enough for our daily vegetables cook to offering to lord. So as Prabhupada said we have to work 3 month only to produce food and after the land will give all of our necessary.
On 3 April we have conducted Food for Life in Old Market, it was supported by Prabhu Ramnathan and three devotee from Hong Kong. We are eight person along with Mr Sophat and Mr. Saron. Me and Kumudaksa Prabhu chanted Hare Krsna Mahamantra with Mridangga and Kartal, and other devotee distributed sweets, fruits juice, pamphlets, maha-mantra cards and some of Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s book in Khmer. For about 1.5 hours we went around, and fortunately people were welcoming us and the police also did not stop.
Some other activity still going on like teaching English, visiting pagodas or friends house, publishing pamphlet and our Angkor Bulletin. Whenever we get a chance we distribute Krishna prasadam, or Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s books. Also while we visit some places we collected some local seeds.
YASODAPURA ECO VILLAGE PILOT PROJECT
Builds New Cottage
Kui have built two new cottages. One cottage is for his staying, because he said they cannot stay in old cottage, there is too much rain and wind. And the second one is for a small temple. This idea came from Mr. Sophat. He suggested that we start some local worship of Lord Buddha and Lord Visnu in order to help build Spirituality in our land.
We requested one Buddha statue from one Pagoda nearby to help build relationship with them. If we can get it, we will worship in our small temple.
Kuiâ€™s New cottage
Making Fences and Planting Fruit Trees
In order to protecting our crops, Kui and Korn have made fence in front of the old cottage. It is about 30 meters. We have also planted 42 mangos saplings and 4 jack fruits. Now they are growing along with 45 bananas trees and tapioca.
Cleaning the Land
About 50 x30 of our land was cleaned by Kuiâ€™s wife, Korn and with the help of a few workers. That worker we got with cheap payment, each worker 5.000 Real a day. Now in that land we have planted some beans, cucumber and water melon.
Digging the Land
We started to dig the land around cottages and mango trees, and to take out the root of grass which is too much.
** Our staff there can done only a little bit work, so we have to look after them, accompanies them, give the directions, so they can work more proper. Now, me and Kumudaksa Prabhu visit to there once a week and we will arrange more after Prabhu Kisora comes.