Monday, May 14, 2007

Please don't forget

We emerge from the bumpy unpaved roads of the countryside to the shockingly modern hotel strip in Siem Reap, developed only because the Western and Japanese tourists have come to see the splendid temples of Angkor Wat. A new hotel goes up once a month here. It is easy to understand why most outsiders have forgotten there is a larger plight in Cambodia; it would be hard to imagine the poverty and the lack of development if Siem Reap was all one saw of the country.
Here too we visit the programs of NGOs, NGOs doing the work that the government has forgotten. We are bearing witness, we have come to hear that the Cambodia government spends 50% of its budget on the military, and only 2% of that budget on health care. And here we were, as Americans, doing the work that our U.S. government has forgotten or neglected to do. We, as Americans, could help reduce the number of deaths in Cambodia, but for 5 years the U.S. government has put a halt to this by withholding funds to UNFPA. With U.S. help, Cambodian women will surly have a better chance of living. The U.S. is the only country to withhold funds to UNFPA for reasons that are political and not financial. Where has our concern for humanity gone?
We bear witness to Cambodia, and to the work that UNFPA is funding here. To the programs that allow the chance for hope, health, and a better life. Let us remember.
As I return to the U.S what can I do know? I promise not to forget. And I hope that the words and experiences I've shared will encourage each of you to call your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support UNFPA, we can help more women live to see their children. Everyday Americans for UNFPA works to help us see our role in promoting the health of women worldwide. Join them in their efforts.

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