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Benefit concert in the Ev. Paulus Congregation Erbenheim on November 17th, 2019

Temple dance and rock music for clean drinking water in Cambodia in the Ev. Pauluskirche Erbenheim


Watermark e. V. Wiesbaden invited to the Ev. Pauluskirche in Erbenheim for an evening concert entitled "Cambodia meets Cello". As the title suggested, the audience was expecting an event beyond the usual. The well-staffed, newly renovated Pauluskirche provided an attractive setting for music, texts and dance. The aim of the event was to take the audience to Cambodia with the many facets of its eventful history. The artist of the evening was the cello duo with Leo Stoll and Elias Hauth, the Apsara dancer and author Thabita Pech-Kranch, Corinna Groß as the reader and Werner Helbig as the moderator of the evening.

The cello duo opened the concert with the 1st movement from Vivaldi's double concerto for cellos. After introducing the artists, Werner Helbig took the audience back to the French colonial days of Cambodia, from which many villas in Phnom Penh and Battambang have survived. “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf, performed by the CelloDuo, took the auditorium back to this time in Cambodia.

Excerpts from the book “Survival under the Khmer” by Thabita Pech-Kranch, who as a 5-year-old girl experienced the time of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 and processed them in her book, took up the first part of the evening. Approximately 2 million Cambodians were cruelly murdered in the acts of violence committed by the Khmer Rouge. This was a third of the total population of Cambodia! The lyrics were emotionally supported by the energetic music of the cello duo with pieces by AC / DC, Muse and Nirvarna.

Werner Helbig then led to the Cambodia of today, where people still suffer greatly from the experiences of the Pol Pott era. In addition, Cambodia is now a democracy on paper, but a de facto totalitarian state by Prime Minister Hun Sen. He has been Prime Minister since 1985 and is therefore the longest-serving Prime Minister in the world. He rules in an authoritarian manner and is externally supported by Vietnam and China.

Corruption shapes the country like no other and permeates almost every area of government action.

The structures for monitoring the Khmer Rouge, especially in rural areas, are still active today, but now through the CPP (Cambodian Peoples Partie of Prime Minister Hun Sen), which uses the spy system to keep the rural population in check and thus ensures the re-election of the Prime Minister, among other things.

Cambodia had better times with the marriage of the Khmer from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The temple city of Angkor is a symbol of this. To date, more than 1000 temples and sanctuaries of various sizes have been discovered on a total area of more than 200 km². In the 13th century, 1.5 million people lived in the greater Angkor area. Angkor was the largest city in the world and Cambodia was one of the leading countries in Asia. This was justified by the development of an ingeniously thought-out irrigation system that enabled the rice harvests to be tripled per year. For reasons as yet unknown, this irrigation system collapsed in the 14th century, which led to the fall of the Kingdom of Angkor. Angkor became world-famous through the evidence of Khmer architecture that is still visible today in the form of unique temple complexes - above all through Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world.

The Cambodian temple dance developed during the construction of the Angkor temples in the 8th to 13th centuries and is still an identity for many Cambodians today. The temple dancers only danced during services in the temple. The dance had a divine and sacred meaning.

The Cambodian temple dance consists of more than 3500 movements, each movement having its own meaning, comparable to language. These body expressions are borrowed from nature or everyday life and have profound symbolism.

The dances tell different stories from the field of religion, history or everyday life and represent both a form of religious worship and meditation as well as entertaining theater. The religious background extends from Hinduism to Buddhism to the natural religions.

The clothes of the dancers remained unchanged in the past centuries and also shows the religious character here. Beads and sequins are embroidered in the shape of lotus flowers and leaves. The costumes are all made in a uniform size and adjusted to the body size before the performance. It takes 2.5 hours to dress and sew the costume.

Thabita Pech-Kranch presented the dance TEP-MONORUM. It represents the joyful stroll of the gods after the victory over the demons. The dance is also known as the dance of the gods and goddesses of happiness. It is one of the most beautiful classical dances of the Khmer.

Werner Helbig reported on the activities of the Wasserzeichen eV association

Thanks to the friendship with the Cambodian Jim Yav, the association supplied Jim's village with organic sand water filters. Drinking water is a big problem in Cambodia. There are no sewage treatment plants and so the drinking water that is pumped out of the groundwater is contaminated with bacteria. The result is diarrhea, from which children and the elderly in particular suffer. This problem can be remedied relatively easily with biosand water filters. 95% of the E. coli bacteria are eliminated by the filters. Wasserzeichen eV financed a water filter for 250 families so that Jim's village is fully supplied. The failure rate then fell rapidly!

With the money that was left over from the donations received, another project was financed: the School Wash Program. Here, the focus is also on clean drinking water. A hygiene program is still part of the concept. In addition to the water filter system for 250 people, a toilet system, a wash house and a waste incineration plant will be built. The school's teachers receive training on hygiene and train the children. As an effect, the children take the new knowledge home with them and teach it to their parents and siblings. The Chrey-Primary-School near Siem Reap is now the first school that was able to put this school wash program into operation, financed by Wasserzeichen eV. All structures were erected in a very short time and the teachers were trained. All children now have clean drinking water and the opportunity to use toilets.

Other schools around Siem Reap urgently need help and have already asked about the shool wash program. To do this, Watermark eV needs  further donations. Donation receipts can be issued.

The association guarantees that every euro donated actually goes to a water project in Cambodia.

Werner Helbig

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