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Travel Tips - Phnom Penh (Ah!) - Faces & Places - September 2003

RAP founder Bill Herod - James Loving NR photo




DJ Ken - National Radio Text Service


Bill Herod Assists Repatriated Cambodians - Herod is best known as the person that brought the Internet to Cambodia. Herod has now taken on a new challenge, he formed Return Assistance Project (RAP) that helps repatriated Cambodians adjust to their country. - Chris Dechard Rehabs - Love FM Changes


Tuesday September 30, 2003 - Updated October 9, 2003




American Bill Herod is best known as the person that brought the Internet to Cambodia thus helping the country communicate with the outside world after three decades of civil conflict. His contribution has stimulated new growth in businesses that rely on the Internet and provide jobs for Cambodian people. It is safe to say that without the Internet Cambodia would not be on the path to economic recovery and enrichment. Digital Divide Data (DDD) CEO Jeremy Hockenstein said that without the Internet they couldn't do their business in Cambodia.

Herod has now taken on a new challenge. He formed Return Assistance Project (RAP) that helps repatriated Cambodians adjust to their country. They were sent back after being convicted of crimes and spending time in prison in the United States. RAP provides the returnees orientation, training, employment food and housing.

Herod's involvement came about when a friend sent him an email on June 18, 2002 that the first six returnees were arriving that Saturday. She asked Herod if he could help them. Herod did. Since that time 67 men have come to Herod for assistance. They are age 21 to 81. At present there are 40 active cases. Only five of the 67 are over 40. Herod noted that many returnees left Cambodia as small children.

"Their problems are from the US," he said. He noted that the tribulations stem from poverty, discrimination, dysfunctional families, being behind in school as well as growing up on welfare.

The men work odd jobs at the guesthouse, cleaning gardening etc. He recently opened a new housing facility that is located 20 minutes from Phnom Penh. Herod interviews the men to see what skills they have so he can assist them in finding work. Many speak only English and have to learn the Cambodian language. Several haven't any skills since they went to prison in their teens. Finding out what they can do and where they can be placed is the task at hand.

""We have to keep trying ideas one at a time until it works," Herod said. "We brainstorm basically. It's not unusual for them to say they have no skills, they've been in gangs and jails."

Some returnees have skills such as carpentry, gardening and mechanical repair. Through the interview process it was found that one man had basketball skills. Herod is now looking to find him a job as a basketball coach. One man was convicted for urinating in public. He did it a second time and was in violation of probation which is considered a mandatory crime in the United States. Urinating in public is a common sight that isn't given a second thought in Cambodia.

Herod admits that some of the men did serious crimes. "It wasn't as if they just stole candy," he noted.

The program has reaped some success. Twenty of the men married Cambodian women. Some of the marriages were arraigned. Herod says they didn't marry bimbos. He pointed out the women are talented, educated, very centered and polite.

The 81-year-old man found something more than a job….his family. Herod took him to the village he came from. They found a young girl with the same family name. The man thought he was her grandfather. She didn't believe him. She said her grandfather died 20 years ago. They then went to her mother who the man hadn't seen since she was seven days old. Now the family is reunited.

Another success story is a well-mannered young man with good communication skills, good appearance and vibrant personality found a job with a company that provides Visas.

"Individual cases will succeed," said Herod.

To help acquaint the returnees with their native country Herod took them on a boat trip to see the tourist sites of Cambodia. Herod has empathy for the group saying that they don't have much money or respect. He says if they were Americans they would have done the time and that would be it they can return to their life in society.


Chris Dechard former AP chief correspondent in Cambodia braces for rehab of torn ACL - NR photo

DJ Donita - NR photo

Love FM station manager Tim Seros aka the Banana - NR photo



"These men were expelled," he said. He went on to point out that one man has a T-shirt that reads LIFE IN THE PEN.

The job continues but funds are needed. Herod previously was the former coordinator of the NGO Forum in Cambodia. He asked various NGO's if they could help. The reply was it wasn't in their mandate. Undaunted Herod continues to try and help with his RAP.



Former Associated Press chief correspondent in Cambodia and Cambodia Daily editor Chris Dechard is in rehab from a torn ACL. Dechard suffered the injury in a recreational basketball game shortly after he resigned from AP and his medical insurance expired.

Dechard had the operation done in Bangkok in August. He plans to return to the United States. Full recovery is expected in February.


LOVE FM DJ Donita was appointed to be Love FM station manager Tim Seros assistant. Donita remains as a DJ for her Friday night show.

Seros is an American who has no previous radio experience prior to coming to Love FM. He also works at the station as a DJ (aka Banana & Funky Monkey Show). He also produces a CD of the most popular songs played on Love FM. In addition he does sales, writes scripts, produces commercials trains and influences the DJ's how to do radio. Most DJ's are young and impressionable college and high school students.


A potential advertising client asked a Love FM DJ how much would it cost to produce an ad of his business to air on the station. The DJ didn't know and asked the station manager. The station manager said he charged $75 because he had to select the music, write the script, do the voice and engineering.

The DJ had previous experience producing commercials. He then said that he could do it all except the engineering so how much would it cost. The station manager said that he would have to charge $100.

The DJ pointed out that he brought in the client. He then asked that manager that since he increased the cost $25 how much would he (the DJ) receive since he did everything but the engineering. The manager replied $10.

The amazed DJ said you raise it $25 and give me $10 and you keep $90? The manager said yes. The DJ rolled his eyes shook his head and said nothing.

Coming: Coming: DJ Ken's Diary. on: www.nationalradio.com

Ethics and integrity are good qualities in a person... the problem is finding a person that has it.


Digital Divide Data (DDD) is seeking book donations for their new library in Phnom Penh for poor students and children. Contact Niev Sitsophary: 012-971-341 or Iv Sovannary (Nary): 012-977-566.


Recreational basketball is played on Sunday night at ISPP (International School of Phnom Penh). The games begin at 5pm till ??? Open to all. Entrance fee is 2000 riel (50 cents) per person. Tel: 012-708-245

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