Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Health Crisis in Cambodia

Today Cambodia is in the midst of a health crisis. Diabetes and hypertension are running rampant. It has been reported that people dying of kidney disease, a complication of diabetes, is quickly reaching epidemic levels. Worsening the situation is the fact that there are only five dialysis centers in the entire country and the cost is out of reach for the average Cambodian. It seems that there is little awareness among the population as to the cause of diabetes and prevention. I seem to recall reading that the Ministry of Health is working with the World Health Organization and United Nations to address the crisis but, to my knowledge, information on the management and prevention has not filtered down to the Health Center level. Unless there is the blood test, a person cannot know if their blood sugar is in the danger zone. This is why I purchased a glucose and cholesterol monitor for the Health Center.

Today I held a training for the staff on the assessment, management and prevention of diabetes and hypertension that involved me speaking entirely in Khmer. This was an exciting opportunity for me and gave me quite a sense of accomplishment. My goal will be to measure blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and pulse of 300 villagers and collect statistical data on the incidence within each age group. I produced this laminated consultation book written in both English and Khmer to educate those patients that have blood sugar in the danger zone. The issue is most likely multi-factorial but the bottom line is a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes exercise can reduce the incidence of these two silent killers. Education is the key. I’ve seen similar scenarios in other developing countries such as Haiti and Guyana that also raise sugar cane. It is inexpensive and easily accessible. In Haiti, it is common for people to chew sugar cane. Here is Cambodia, the juice from the sugar cane is squeezed out and people drink it straight without understanding the extraordinary amount of sugar they are consuming. I hope that my efforts make a difference but I may never know.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

This is a short description of one of my books called Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. This is my favorite book filled with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

It’s 1930 and Carson Jones is a prison guard at the notorious Eastern States Penitentiary in Philadelphia where some of America’s most violent inmates and gangsters are serving time. Amidst the desperation of the Depression and a crowd of hostile convicts, Carson finds solace in an azalea garden behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in helping an inmate he believes has been wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death. Carson’s life begins to take a turn when he meets a beautiful young woman through a coworker. Her father is a judge and agrees to help him, but at a price. Carson is forced to choose between a life of meaning and purpose and leaving his friend at the mercy of a threatening warden who is becoming increasingly more unhinged. Though the life he has always dreamed of is finally within reach, is it worth it? In a novel chock-full of history and suspense, James Rizzo crafts a suspenseful narrative full of real-life history and page-turning intrigue.

This is the book trailer for my novel Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. Book sales are increasing so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those that have supported me by purchasing my books. Although I’m no longer with Smart Cat Publishing, all my books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Links are on this website. Hope you will take a moment to listen and enjoy.







Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is The Khmer Wedding Ceremony

Cambodian men traditionally don’t find a Khmer wife through means that those from Western culture are familiar. Marriages are often arranged through a matchmaker of sorts. Customarily, this mediator would approach the mother of the female and if the mother expressed interest then the mediator would inquire details of the young woman. Details such as the time, day, month and year of birth is required. Then the mediator would turn this information over to a monk along with the same information of the male to see if the birth details are compatible. If there is compatibility, then the family of the male would send a formal proposal to the family of the female. There may be several visits required by the mediator along with gifts to the family to establish a good relationship. If all goes well and the young womans family accepts the marriage proposal then the families will determine the wedding date.

The wedding ceremony has many components and can last for days.:

There is a monks blessing ritual. This is carried out first for the bride and then for the groom. This is an ancient ritual that is no longer required throughout most of Cambodia but is still performed in parts of Takeo and Kampot Provinces where I live.

Honoring the Ancestors. The bride and the groom pay homage to their ancestors by lighting incense, bowing and offering tea. This is a call to the deceased ancestors to view the bond and bestow their good wishes and blessings to the living family.

Knot Tying Ceremony. This portion of the ceremony when guests will have an opportunity to bestow blessings on the couple.

The Grooms Processional. This is when the groom comes to the home of the bride bearing gifts. I’ve participated in this portion of the ritual. It involves a people literally carrying fruit on trays to the home of the bride. Usually not very far, just a short distance. After the procession has entered the home the trays are arranged. The bride and the groom exchange rings at this time.  The number of people involved with this portion of the ceremony can be extensive so most people present the fruit tray and leave. In the last wedding I attended, I was invited to remain.  We were seated in two rows facing each other. The parents of the bride walked down the center between the rows, thanking those for the gifts. Then the bride and the groom, wearing traditional Khmer dress, walked down together while musicians played on traditional instruments. I would have liked to get pictures but nobody else was taking them and so it felt awkward but it is a beautiful ceremony. This takes place first thing in the morning.

Later that day, the event culminates with an evening of food and music. The food is exceptional. There is dancing- traditional Khmer dancing of course. Since I’ve attended a number of these celebrations, these are pictures from various weddings. Some of these pictures are from the wedding for the daughter of the chief from my Health Center.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

I write historical fiction. This one is set in 1880, Tombstone, Az for those that enjoy a good western. I did a lot of research on this one to keep it historically accurate.

It’s 1880, Denis and Hope McConell are on a train traveling through Indian Territory on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Denis has been hired as copyeditor of The Epitaph, the Tombstone newspaper owned by John Clum whose friends include the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday. Denis will be reporting on the events of the rapidly growing wild boom town. But after their arrival, he realizes that because of his association with the Clum and the Earps he has many dangerous enemies. After the loss of her husband, 19-year old Hope is on her own and forced to protect her infant daughter, a 15-year-old Chinese girl from the Chinese mining camp and a 15-year-old girl that had been forced into prostitution. She finds solace and friendship among the Chinese miners but they are under constant threat from brutal marauders who will stop at nothing, including torture and murder, to get what they want- silver. But the law will do nothing to protect the Chinese miners. Now Hope must now learn to defend herself and protect the others from the constant threat of danger with little resources and fewer options