This week started out on a sad note, as Odoum (the local intern)'s grandmother had passed away on Monday. On Tuesday, Sothea, Kalyan, Phearun and I all visited the Odoum's family's home for the first part of the funeral ceremonies (as Odoum's family practices Theravada Buddhism, funerals have three separate parts - the first of which consists of family and friends gathering at the family's home). We visited with Odoum and his family to give our condolences, and although it was a heart-breaking time for Odoum's family, they were very welcoming and I was glad to pay my respects and be there for Odoum in some small way.
Aside from continuing on with the baseline project I described previously, I also attended another trial and sentencing hearing. The trial I attended this week stood out to me for a few reasons, the main reason being that our client had mental deficits apparent to the judges and the prosecutor - yet no expert had been appointed by the court. Sothea's main argument called on the judges to consider our client's mental state as a mitigating factor regarding his presumable sentencing for drug-related charges.
Secondly, this week I had a few meetings with Kalyan (the lawyer assistant) and Sothea to discuss our office's case management system. Each office in Cambodia keeps track of each case on a uniform system created by the Phnom Penh office. Our system tracks everything regarding each client's case, beginning with the initial arrest, continuing on through procedural and investigating stages and ending with the trial, and, if necessary, sentencing, and appeal stages. Because we do have so many offices, and language barriers can cause confusion in keeping track of these details - Rosemary and I have been tasked with re-vamping the system and creating guidelines for each office that explain in detail what types of information falls under each category. As each offices' feedback on the current system is crucial in making improvements, I met with Kalyan and Sothea to discuss what they would change about the current systems, which categories are unclear, what types of categories they would add or remove, etc., and made my recommendations from there. In the coming weeks we will finalize the set of categories for the new system and work on creating guidelines (in both Khmai and English) to accompany it.
Life & Travel
Last week the Kingdom of Cambodia announced this coming Friday would be a public holiday to observe the interment of King Father Norodom Sihanouk's ashes into a stupa at the Royal Palace. The late, beloved King passed away in 2012, after ruling over Cambodia for two separate terms as King, one of which saw Cambodia through the beginnings of its independence. Given this holiday, I decided to take a quick trip up to Siem Reap since it is only a three and a half hour bus ride and I was anxious to go back since I had enjoyed my previous stay there so much in June. While there, I ended up meeting a bunch of other girls in my hostel who were traveling alone, so we all went out to dinner to celebrate one of their birthday's. All in all there were 12 of us, from 9 different countries (America, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands).
I spent the next day reading and working on 2L job apps, and in the evening I attended a fundraising concerto at a children's hospital with a few of the girls I had met. The recurring concerto is preformed by Dr. Beat Richner (known as Beatocello), a well-known cellist and pediatrician from Switzerland, who has founded five children's hospitals here in Cambodia. These hospitals see thousands of mothers and children a year, turning no one away, and provide medications, vaccinations, surgeries, treatments, etc. free of charge. Beatocello plays the cello, speaks about his organization, and shows a short film every few days at the hospital in Siem Reap - and it is definitely worth a visit! While growing up in New York, my Dad (whose birthday was on the 11th so happy birthday Dad!) would take me to symphonies and concertos around the city and the cello was always my favorite instrument in the orchestra, so it was especially nice to experience that again. You can find out more information on this wonderful organization here: http://www.beat-richner.ch. Before I knew it, my trip to Siem Reap was over and I was happily headed back to rainy Battambang for the start of the workweek!