After decades of bloody wars and horrific genocide, Cambodia is beginning
to grow back. By 1980, the murderous Khmer Rouge regime had slashed the
population by as many as 3m people to about 8m. With the death of Pol Pot
in 1998 and the relative stabilization of the government, the country is now
in a calm period of rebirth, literally: in 2000, the population was 12m.
Half the people are under the age of 15 (average life expectency: about 50;
1 in 5 kids dies by age 5; and Cambodia has the worst AIDS problem in Asia).
More than any other, Cambodia is a nation of children, where more than 80%
of the people live a subsistence farming life in isolated villages, with no
electricity, plumbing, phone, or medical care.
Longtime Media Lab friend Bernie Krisher has led a number of charitable
efforts there, including publishing the Cambodia Daily, building a hospital,
and creating schools. The presenters, Hawley and Choi, have just returned
from extended trips in February and April, during which they travelled with
two 12 year old kids, Lyhow (an orphan boy), and Cheang (a village girl).
They covered a lot of ground. The kids visited the city of Phnom Penh;
the remote hilltribes of the wild eastern Ratanakiri province; they made a
pilgrimage to Angkor Wat, and even lent a hand at the isolated Washburn school.
This presentation, illustrated with video and still imagery, will offer
a glimpse of what it's like to grow up and live in Cambodia today.
see also: Digital Winter