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Love Learning about Cambodia

From the ALO Update Vol 26 No 2, read more about Cambodia and the Cambodian people.

Vocabulary Words: Use the purple words as a vocabulary list. 1. Learn to spell them; 2. Define them or write a paragraph describing them and their significance. You may need to research some of the words or terms to better understand them. 3. Choose one of the words or terms and write a 1-page research paper highlighting the most important information about it or identifying a specific area of interest.

Official Name: The Kingdom of Cambodia

National Anthem: “Nokor Reach” (Majestic Kingdom or Royal Kingdom) 

National Motto: Nation, religion, king

Flag of Cambodia: Vol26No2b1 

The Cambodian flag features two blue horizontal stripes on either side of a larger red stripe on which the outline of the Angkor Wat temple appears in white.

The red stripe represents the nation.
White represents the people’s religion—Buddhism.
The blue stripes symbolize the country’s royalty.

Thus, the colors of the flag represent the country’s motto: Nation, religion, king.

The Country Map:

Population: Almost 16 million (2016 estimate)
97.6% are Khmer

Area: 69,898 square miles (approximately the size of Oklahoma)

Official Language: Khmer
Here are some simple words and phrases you can learn in Khmer—

Yes - jah (if you are female) or baht (if you are male)
No - awt tay
Hello - joohm ree-up soo-a
How are you? - sok-sa bai jee-a tay?
See you again! - joo-up k’neer dee-ut!
What is your name? - laok ch’moo-ah a-vwai?
My name is - k’nyom ch’moo-ah
I don’t understand. - min yuall teh
Happy Birthday - reek reay thgnai khom-naowt
Goodbye - joohm ree-up lea (formal) or lee-hai (informal)

Capital/Largest City: Phnom Penh (population of 1.5 million)

Religion: More than 95% of Cambodians practice Theravada Buddhism.

Key tenets of Buddhism in Cambodia:
• Reincarnation
• Working to acquire merit and erase karma—negative consequences of past actions
• Animism
• Belief in spirits that act upon people’s lives
• Superstitious belief in luck and one’s ability to change one’s luck through charms and one’s own actions.

Less than half of one percent of Cambodia’s population is Christian.

Bible and Theology Assignment or Discussion: How does the Bible line up with or refute the key tenets of Buddhism as practiced by Cambodians? Using the key tenets of Buddhism listed above as a framework, outline the Bible’s teachings on these subjects. Be sure to provide biblical support—citing chapter and verse—for your answers.

Money: Cambodian Riel (KHR), in paper denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 riels, and coins in 50, 100, 200, and 500 riel denominations.
One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 4,000 KHR (Cambodian Riels).

Time and Weather in Sihanoukville: 

Recipe for Cambodian Fried Bananas:
Try making (and enjoying) this simple and delicious snack or dessert that’s a favorite in Cambodia.

½ cup rice flour
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or palm sugar
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
Dash of salt
3 egg whites
1-1 ½ cups of coconut milk
Bananas—barely ripe

Heat cooking oil over high heat in deep fryer, wok, or deep pot.

Combine the first four ingredients and mix well.
Add the egg whites and mix well.
Stir in just enough coconut milk to make a batter the consistency of pancake batter.

Slightly flatten peeled banana gently between pieces of wax paper.
Dip flattened bananas in batter.
Carefully lower coated bananas into the hot oil and cook until crisp and golden brown.
Drain and cool slightly on paper towels before enjoying warm.

Prayer Requests:
Please pray…
• for Rithy—a 22-year-old young man from Sihanoukville Children’s Home (SCH) who is fighting cancer. The children’s home is caring for him as he is being treated.
• that the children who come into the care of SCH would feel the love of the Heavenly Father.
• that all of the VanderMolen’s needs and those of the children’s home would be met.
• that the Holy Spirit would inspire people to become part of the SCH family through their giving and prayers.

Where to find news about Cambodia:  

Check out and like the VanderMolens’ FaceBook page: 

Cambodian Naming Conventions

Names are considered very important in Cambodian culture and, thus, are chosen carefully. Names are typically chosen several days to a week after a child’s birth so that its characteristics can be observed and an appropriate name chosen.

Names can tell a story about the child’s birth, reflecting…
• when the child was born—Chan (Monday), Arun (morning sun), or Tola (born in October)
• their appearance or place in the family birth order—Thom (oldest one, large) or Mau (dark skin)
• or even how they may have smelled as an infant—Srey Doung (young coconut girl) or Sotheara (sweet flower).

Girls are often given names that reflect beauty their parents see (or hope to see) in them—Chanthavy (beautiful moon girl, Jorani (radiant jewel), or Kaliyanei (beautiful; lovely).
Boys are named after a particular virtue their parents hope will define their son’s character when he grows up—Heng (lucky), Kosal (clever), or Charya (good character).

Occasionally, in faith or an effort to influence the future, friends, neighbors, or relatives will prename a child before he or she is even conceived. For instance, family of a couple that is having difficulty conceiving or has lost babies before birth might prename a child Chea (healthy, well).

Having a child named by a Buddhist monk is highly prized in this predominantly Buddhist country.

Names can be given (or changed) to counteract a bad influence, such as an unlucky birth date or circumstance or the child’s poor health. See below for an example that reminds us of an important spiritual truth.

The order in which Cambodian names are written or spoken is the reverse of how they are said or written in the western world. In Cambodia, the surname or family name comes first, and the given name (what we call the first name) follows. For instance, a man whose name is John Smith would be Smith John in the Cambodian style.

A woman keeps her maiden names after she marries.

Children usually inherit their surname or family name from the father’s surname. As a demonstration of this pattern, Smith John’s children might be named Smith Jack and Smith Emily.

An Interesting Exception: Occasionally, one child in the family’s surname will be changed to the father’s given name rather than his surname. This may be done for one of two reasons:

• The child is her father’s favorite. By changing Smith Jack’s name to John Jack, Smith John is showing the world that Jack is his favorite child.
• The father is redeeming a child who might otherwise be considered unwanted or unlucky. When something bad happens on the day a child is born, Cambodian superstition believes that the baby is responsible for this bad luck or evil. To protect or redeem that child from a lifetime of blame and rejection, the father changes the child’s family name to his own given name—Smith John’s daughter Smith Emily becomes John Emily. The curse is broken by the power of the father’s name and love.


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