Travel Guide

Dhamma Aid Cambodia

The people of Cambodia or Khmers have been Buddhists since the13th century and was once part of a great empire. However, fate took a twist in modern times. The Khmers suffered terribly during the civil war between the years 1970 to 1975 and in the years thereafter. When the communist Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, its genocidal programs led to the death of between 1 to 3 million people out of a population of 7.3 million. In an effort to restructure Cambodian society the Khmer Rouge targeted the educated class and destroyed the religious and cultural structure of society. Of the estimated 65,000 monks in Cambodia at that time, less than 3,000 survived the Khmer Rouge years.

With the defeat of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the Cambodian people vigorously rebuilt their religious infrastructure and embarked on the construction of monasteries. However, because of the severe lack of teachers and resources, religious education fell far behind. It is estimated that only about 20% of the sangha receive some formal education.

If the knowledge of the members of the sangha is weak, then the lay-people who look to the monks for guidance and instruction are in an even worse position. Already suffering greatly from poverty, and the residual trauma of war, their spirit is further weakened by superstition and ignorance.

Not surprisingly, well funded missionaries of various stripes have descended on the country. While some have noble and genuine intentions, a significant number merely wish to capitalise on the vulnerability of the populace by introducing beliefs that further weaken and divide the people and erode confidence in their culture.

The people of Cambodia have suffered enough. As they leap into the modern world while recovering from their recent trauma, there is a great need for them to reclaim their religious heritage, be re-educated in the Dhamma and to regain their spirit and self-confidence.

Dhamma Aid Cambodia is a heart-felt response to the situation described above which crystallized into a project of the Bandar Utama Buddhist Society and supported by the Buddhist Maha-Vihara, Malaysia. While the Cambodians have difficulty in finding the educational resources to rebuild their religion, Buddhists here and in many countries often have a surplus. Dhamma Aid Cambodia seeks to address this disparity but creating the medium for Buddhists who seek a wiser and effective way to donate funds in support of the Buddha Sasana.

Our primary objective is to support Cambodian Buddhist organisations in the field of Dhamma education. Presently, we sponsor the printing of Dhamma books in Cambodia for free distribution to select target population groups. As Dhamma Aid Cambodia grows, we may assist other initiatives as a means of assisting the Buddhist renewal in Cambodia.

Dhamma Aid Cambodia is presently working with :

The Buddhist Institute
The Buddhist Institute was established by King Monivong of Cambodia in 1930 to research, publish and educate on Cambodian literature, language and Buddhism. In 1954 King Norodom Sihanouk linked the Buddhist Institute with Preah Sihanouk Raj Buddhist University. Being the country's premier research and publications institution on Buddhism and Khmer culture it is a respected organisation under the government's Ministry of Religions. It has its own printing press and has printed numerous Buddhist books, magazines and the Tipitaka.

Khmer Youth Education Buddhist Centre
Khmer Youth Education Buddhist Centre is an organization under the patronage of the Cambodian Education Ministry, and advised by Ven Sophan Vodano. It works primarily with young people and school children. Since 2000 it has held numerous Dhamma camps in areas around the town of Siem Reap, participated by about 15,000 youths and teachers. It aims to instill the qualities of responsibility, self-reliance and moral awareness in the future leaders of Cambodian society. Ven Sophan Vodano is a native of Siem Reap, Cambodia and is a graduate of MahaChula Buddhist University, Bangkok. He is also the Vice-abbot of Wat Khmer Samakii, Calgary, Canada.

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