Cambodia and the Widow Colonies


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huanmin

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Nov 23, 2006
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I had the opportunity to take part in a community service project last December. The team travelled to a village, Koh Rumdual, in Cambodia, to aid in alleviating the dire poverty faced by the villagers there. As the photographer for the team, my job was to document the different aspects of the villagers' lives, and to raise awareness of their situation to Singaporeans, in order to encourage more people to help out.

Koh Rumdual is an island along the Bassat River north of Cambodia. During the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, women and children refugees from the urban areas were gathered into 'widow colonies' such as Koh Rumdual, while the men were sent for interrogation. Many never returned, either massacred in cold blood or tortured to death.


Sonle, a bubbly 13-year-old boy from Koh Rumdual.

The widowed women, elderly, and children in these colonies initially received support from various governmental and non-governmental organisations, but as funds ran out, they were neglected, left to fend for themselves. These families have lost their homes in the cities, and, with little education and practically no material possessions except for the huts that were constructed for them, were stuck on the island. Many of them live on a subsistence level by working for plantation owners, having few able-bodied men to farm, fish or work in the cities.


She was initially very shy, but warmed up to us after a few days.


Many of the children are malnourished and stricken with illnesses. Although the government provides free medical services at public clinics, most families are unable to even afford the transport costs to visit the doctor. Education was another critical issue faced by the villagers. Most of them were unable to afford to send their children to school, and only a lucky handful owned a couple of old textbooks.


The 9-year-old daughter of our host, the village's fisherman. She lost her ability to walk years ago due to severe malnutrition.

An exhibition was held in my school after we returned, and it was extremely heartening to see so many people approach us and offer to help. Sometimes, living in a cosmopolitan state like Singapore makes us forget that such poverty actually still exists, right at our doorsteps. This project was an eye-opening experience for me: having lived in comfort almost my entire life, experiencing life on the other, oft-forgotten side of society, really makes one reflect on how fortunate we all truly are.
 

KCLow

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Nov 14, 2004
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upzz for u. I like the expression captured in #2.
 

huanmin

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Nov 23, 2006
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Thank you all for your kind comments! :)

Any pointers for improvement? There is still a lot that I have to learn...
 

eugeneceh

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Feb 14, 2006
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Very nice sepia photos. Good composition and sepia seems very appropriate. And of course, not forgetting the plight of the people there. Very moving photos! :)
 

vincecarlo

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Dec 24, 2006
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I like pix #1, despite their plight. The little boy still shows real happiness
 

standingup

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Nov 21, 2006
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Singapore
Thank you all for your kind comments! :)

Any pointers for improvement? There is still a lot that I have to learn...
The picture are perfect to me..Ha ha..But do you mind to share to make the frame.. I like carefully post process with care to details..:D..Up for you
 

huanmin

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eugeneceh, vincecarlo, Tsangstudios: Thanks for the very kind comments! :D

standingup: Thanks for the comments! A lot of the post-processing was done through trial and error actually; not sure if the methods I used are the 'conventional' methods, but hey, they work!

The frame was made by editing in Photoshop and enlarging the canvas size by 2.5 inches for both the width and height. For the straight-edged borders, I used the rectangular vector mask and made a rectangle that was slightly larger than the photo, then adjusted the stroke width, added drop shadow. The fuzzy border was done by masking a border of about 2 inches around the picture and applying the Angled Strokes filter. I think I did something else but can't really remember :sweat:
 

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