Saturday, January 28, 2012

Evan's Tenth Birthday!

by HouseBoy

Evan celebrated his birthday this past weekend - it was BIG number ten, and was the fourth time we organized birthday festivities for him here in India! We managed to pull together a whole weekend of activities with some of his best friends. Audrey and two of her good friends helped out with some of the activities.
Everything kicked off with a big sleepover.  Two of Evan's buddies, Louis and Dylan came over for the night. Audrey and her friend Emma joined in the fun as well. The girls were a huge help - they baked a cake, wrapped gifts, made cards and went on several trips to our local market for snacks and supplies!  Our local rickshaw driver was a very happy guy, because the girls used him several times throughout the day to haul their many bags of goodies. The evening ended with a movie and the new FIFA 12 game on the Wii.
Day two took us to a Sports Restaurant called Underdoggs in one of the swanky malls located in Visant Kunj. The party kicked off before noon. Nine kids had the place to themselves until the lunch crowd started rolling in. Underdoggs is full of games - table tennis, pool, darts, foosball, shuffleboard, carem, video games (wii, ps3 and xbox) and, the unforgettable "sumo" wrestling.
As with many things in India, safety is not always the first consideration - Sumo wrestling was conveniently set up next to the dart boards, alongside a floor-to-ceiling length plate-glass divider. To compensate, we strategically placed parents to keep kids from smashing into walls and getting poked by flying darts.
There were no injuries, and the kids looked hilarious, in their foam, latex and Velcro suits. Think "Michelin Man meets Sumo Wrestler" costumes. There was more bouncing, flopping and tumbling than actual wrestling. But everyone had wide smiles!
The party ended with double chocolate cake from our favorite bakery - Red Moon and plenty of snacks (some of which were accidentally raided by boys from an adjacent birthday party...)

It was Monday morning, after the dust had settled. The kids were getting ready to head off to the morning bus and school. Evan's face got very serious and then he smiled: "I had a really good weekend. I think that was the best birthday party I've ever had!"

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Killing Fields

by Audrey Sayer

In Cambodia, "the Killing Fields" are a sad, but special place. Lots of people go there every day. Some to pray, some to honor the people who died, and some just to learn about it.
There are many killing fields in Cambodia, but the biggest one is outside of Phnom Penh. This is its story:
In the 1970's the leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, killed over 70,0000 people in this place because they were smart enough to know what he was doing was wrong. His soldiers dug pits to put the dead or almost-dead people in. The killed men, women and children - even babies. Across the country over 2,000,000 people died like this.
Today there is a memorial filled with human skulls to remind people that killing your own kind for no reason is inhuman, and unforgivable. Now the Killing Fields are peaceful and sad places. The ground there still remembers...

Cambodia is not the only country where this happened... it is all over the world. We must not kill for power.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Land Mine Museum

by Evan Sayer

We went to the Land Mine museum in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is near Angkor Wat, which is a famous Temple complex.
Here's the history of the museum:

In 1999 a man named, Aki Ra founded the museum on a small dirt road near Angkor Wat. He had been a child soldier with the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. He created the museum out of straw huts to protect the deactivated explosives from war. Aki Ra started de-mining in 1995. He has dug up thousands of these. He opened a new museum in April, 2007.
Aki Ra did this because he said "I want to make my country safe for my people."
This is very important because many people are hurt each year by old land mines. There are now 100,000,000 unexploded land mines in the world! 5,000,000 of them are still in the ground in Cambodia.
The museum tells people that life is hard (especially when there are land mines in the ground!)