A new San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, A Khmer Buddhist Foundation, recently announced its launch with a nearly US$500,000 gift aimed at supporting people in Cambodia who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded by Cambodian American philanthropist and advocate Lyna Lam, the foundation aims to advance the lives of the Khmer people through preserving their traditions and culture.
The donation, which will be administered through the Cambodia-based nonprofit Friends International, will be used to provide items including oxygen supplies, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) in Cambodia. Part of the donation will also go to providing direct food aid to impoverished children and families. The Khmer ethnic group comprises some 97 per cent of Cambodia’s 15.9 million population.
Partnering with A Khmer Buddhist Foundation is Digital Divide Data (DDD), Cambodia’s largest technology-related employer.
“We were saddened to hear about the devastating COVID-19 situation in Cambodia.” said Lam, founder and executive director of A Khmer Buddhist Foundation. “While we know firsthand that the people of Cambodia are resilient and have a history of recovering from any hardship stronger than before, we also know that additional supplies and resources can help accelerate their recovery and end this terrible pandemic. We believe it’s vital for ethnic Cambodians in the US to help Cambodia in any way they can, just as Indian Americans have so heroically stepped up to help the COVID crisis in India.” (Global News Wire)
According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 330,000 people of Cambodian heritage in the US as of 2015, many of those in communities along the West Coast.
After working to alleviate suffering caused by COVID-19 in Cambodia, Lam noted that the foundation would aim to support a wide variety of causes, ranging from arts and culture to business and educational opportunities.
Lam emigrated to the US as a refugee following the Vietnam War and Cambodian genocide. She started a small business and quickly gained success. She and her husband, Chris Larson, made a US$25 million gift to San Francisco State University’s College of Business—now called the Lam Family College of Business. Notably, 37 per cent of the college’s students are the first in their families to attend college.
Additionally, Lam is a co-sponsor of the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award, which aims to support solutions to the world’s refugee crisis. She is financing a project to catalogue and digitize all surviving Khmer scripts and crucially important documents, and is also the founder of Wat Khmer Kampuchea Krom, a Theravada temple in San Jose, California.
According to the news agency Reuters, Cambodia has recorded 74,386 novel coronavirus infections and 1,324 related deaths. The country is one of several in Southeast Asia that were overwhelmingly successful in containing the virus in the early months of its spread. The first COVID-19 death reported by the government was on 11 March, more than a year after the pandemic began. However, new cases began to rise rapidly in April and have continued, peaking at more than 1,000 new cases per day. The country’s vaccination campaign began in February and today more than 60 per cent of adults have received at one shot while 44 per cent are fully vaccinated. The government has relied on donations from China of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, the international COVAX initiative, and donations of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from Japan.
A Khmer Buddhist Foundation
A Khmer Buddhist Foundation is Launched (Global News Wire)
Newly Launched A Khmer Buddhist Foundation Donates $500,000 in COVID Relief (Tricycle)
World Coronavirus Tracker and Maps (Reuters)
Cambodia reports first COVID-19 death, 1 year into pandemic (The Seattle Times)
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