Thursday, December 11, 2008

Canals in Cambodia

In Cambodia, they have revitalized a system of canals created by the Khmer Rouge.

I read the article in the Times a few days ago. I will be so glad to really dig into this project -- next week the semester is over.

Published: December 4, 2008

BARAY, Cambodia — The dry season has taken hold here, but water is everywhere. It pours out of sluice gates with the roar of an alpine torrent. Children do backflips into the ubiquitous canals and then pull their friends in with them. Fishermen cast their nets for minnows, and villagers wash their Chinese-made motorcycles.
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The regime built 70 percent of the 800-plus canal networks

“It’s never dry here,” said Chan Mo, a 36-year-old rice farmer standing on top of a dike.

The Khmer Rouge canals have come back to life.

By the time the brutal government of Pol Pot was toppled three decades ago, 1.7 million Cambodians were dead from overwork, starvation and disease, and the country was a ruin.

But the forced labor of millions of Cambodians left behind something useful — or that is how the current government here sees it.

[[[I just keep thinking about PTSD. How the older people must hear the water, see the children jumping to and playing in the water ... and be moved the dead.]]]

Mr. Loh Thoeun hopes the canals he built will help double or triple his rice output.

“I always recall the past to my children,” Mr. Loh Thoeun said. “I say, ‘We have water from this canal that was built by the people. And many of them died.’ ”

Among the current workers on Baray’s canal system is Sim Vy, 48. As a teenager she was also enlisted by the Khmer Rouge to help build the canals here, carrying dirt away on baskets tied to bamboo poles.

She was told she was working for national glory but received only watery gruel as recompense.

Now she is paid $55 a month.

“I prefer working this way,” she said.

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