Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old friends

Vun Em, left, is the co-ordinator and singer with the Messenger Band
Last night I caught up with a few friendly faces when I met Sokhom, my long-time pal from Kompong Thom at the restaurant that sits under the Dara Reang Sey Hotel on Street 130, and also chatted with Dara, one of the sisters that run the hotel, who I hadn't seen for a few months. Sokhom was in town for 1 night alongwith a customer-friend in the shape of Thierry from Belgium. They had just arrived after spending an enjoyable night in a floating village near the southern mouth of the Tonle Sap Lake as part of their adventures in the north. Thierry is a regular visitor to Cambodia and always hooks up with Sokhom during part of his travels. After a bite to eat at the hotel, the three of us headed to Meta House to listen to the Messenger Band doing their bit to spread the word about workers rights, their hopes and fears, and highlighting the plight of female workers in Cambodia. All of the band's members were or are still garment factory workers and they take their message around the country to educate and entertain their audience. Some of their acappella songs are sad, some are less serious, all of them inform. They dare to talk and sing about topics that are often taboo and deserve great credit for their brave and courageous stance. They sang five songs and chatted to the audience before we watched a film made by the Meta House team called I Am Precious, which followed a fashion competition aimed at exposing the talents of garment factory workers in designing their own dresses and t-shirts.
The Messenger Band members enjoy a lighter moment during last night's performance

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