Last September I went to Cambodia with a group of Japanese volunteers, and during our time at Wat Opot I made this short movie. All the actors are kids, mostly orphaned by AIDS (having lost one or both parents).
It’s a movie about friendship and living with HIV. There is a worldwide fear of HIV, but that fear is intensified in cultures with relatively little formal education or medical awareness. When Cambodians were dying by the thousands of AIDS, their own families cast them out, hospitals wouldn’t receive them, and even crematoriums were afraid to burn their bodies for fear that workers might be infected by the smoke.
That was three years ago. Not surprisingly, people living with HIV are still stigmatized in Cambodia.
About 20 percent of the kids at Wat Opot are living with HIV. They have worked hard with the surrounding community to dispel their fears. All the kids at Wat Opot attend the nearby public schools, and they interact freely with kids in the community. That isn’t to say all the fears and stigmas have gone away, but the situation is much better than before. The director wrote the short story that this movie is based …
Japanese hip-hop dancers competing
I was wandering in Yoyogi Park, near Harajuku Station, last weekend and heard the sound of hip-hop music emanating from a crowd across the street. Crossing over I found a thousand or more people participating in a hip-hop festival called “BBoy Park.” Groups were performing on the main stage, rappers were facing off under a small, packed pavilion, graffiti artists were creating pieces on plywood boards set up for the day, and hundreds of high schoolers were having a hip-hop dancing competition.
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