Back in Boston, right before I left, Adam send me his summary of the January 2010 Harper’s report “Shipping for Sweat: The Human Cost of a Two-Dollar T-Shirt” by Ken Silverstein. “This report was truly depressing — quite honestly it broke my heart that Cambodia’s famous 10-year-old “fair trade” story is largely if not entirely false – 33cents/hr is the average textile wage there, which is the 2nd lowest in the world, above Bangladesh’s 22cents/hr. The good news is they might have $20 leftover at the end of the month to send to their families, after spending $10/month on rent in a crowded mud hut and $1/day on food — if they save Every single penny and Never make a single mistake! Meanwhile each such diligent worker generates something like $175,000/year (?!) in sales for brand names we know very well. The apparel is delivered to the US for less than $2 – well over 90% of the item goes to someone else…”
As I was thinking about that report I also realized that there are good people too, who care and do their best for Cambodia and its people. While I spent several days with Roger and Sarith in Siem Reap I learned more about good people and NGOs, working in Siem Reap and Cambodia. I saw a hospital built by a cello player Beat Richner, who hires local people, pays them very good salaries and provides free health care for half a million children a year. I found out about Bernie Krisher (MIT grad), who built more than 400 schools in Cambodia. Thousands of people are doing good work around the world, just like Greg Mortenson, whose book “Stones into schools” I’m reading right now. And every person’s story is inspirational.
I wrote to Bernie Krisher asking about his schools and whether he is utilizing any computers.
Thank you for your message. My website is: www.cambodiaschools.com. We are also mentioned quite favorably in the book, Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn. Who also wrote about us in Oprah and the Rotarian, the official magazine of Rotary International. We do not use the OLPC because Nicholas Negroponte, the former director of the Media Laboratory, who developed this computer did not think I shared his vision for using it. His computer also has no warranties and we don’t know where to repair them if they have a malfunction. We assemble our own low-energy computers with a Khmer keyboard and browser using an intel chip. We call it the Compudia (computer + Cambodia) and sell it for $450.
Best regards, Bernie Krisher
Thank you, Nicholas, Bernie, Beat, Roger, Sarith, Greg and many other people for your efforts so that millions of children in the world have happy childhood, good education, good healthcare and good jobs when they grow up.