Our distinguished visitors officially began their visit Monday and will continue it through today and tonight in preparation for traveling to Nashville where they will be hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam.
The heartwarming initiative is being made possible through the humanitarian work of People for Care and Learning, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization whose name is becoming more and more familiar to Cleveland area residents. Directed by Dr. Fred Garmon, PCL has become instrumental in a variety of local and international activities.
Two that will tug at Bradley County hearts are the group’s role in our community’s recovery from the tragic tornadoes of April 27, 2011, and also some will recognize the organization’s role in providing the popular Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway playground near Raider Drive and across the way from the former First Tennessee Bank building.
Many other local campaigns have involved this splendid organization. But its work is not limited to just our community. Near the Southeast Asian municipality of Phnom Penh, a massive city with 1.5 million inhabitants, PCL is working to build an entire new city. It will provide homes for 8,000 Cambodians — as well as invaluable infrastructure — who were previously relocated from their impoverished neighborhoods in order to welcome in needed commercial development. Since that time, the displaced residents have been given refuge in temporary quarters.
The giant PCL construction effort includes roads, water and sewage systems, a school, a public market, a health clinic, a vocational training center and a park.
In a move to bring together peoples of the world, especially those who share a common “Spirit,” the cities of Cleveland and Phnom Penh are becoming sister cities. The formalities began through the day Monday and continued into Monday night with an official Sister City Dinner welcoming held on the Lee University compus. The joyous celebration was hosted by Dr. Paul Conn, Lee president.
In order to get a feel for their new global sister, the Cambodian guests on Monday met with the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and later with Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. Also in the VIP hopper were tours of the new Whirlpool Cleveland Division and Amazon.com plants. Today, they were scheduled to visit Murmaid Mattress while also attending the weekly luncheon of the noon-day Cleveland Rotary Club.
A group of Cleveland delegates will visit our new Cambodian sister city at a later date.
Our community’s special guests are led by His Excellency Kep Chuk Tema, governor of Phnom Penh, who is accompanied by his wife and daughter. Others include Mr. Kit Sopha, chief of Por Sen Chey District; Mr. Bun Serey, director of Finance; Mr. Koeut Chhe, director of Administration; Mr. An Neang, deputy director of Administration; Mr. Mao Bora, director of Planning & Investment; Mr. Chhean Vuthy, deputy chief of Investment; Ms. Chan Sokunthea, deputy director of Inter-Sectoral Division; and Bernadette Bolo-Duthy, director of Habitat for Humanity of Cambodia.
We will have more to say about our “Cities With Spirit,” about this exciting new sisterhood and how two growing towns a world apart, and their citizens, can benefit from such a unique opportunity.
Until then, we welcome our Cambodian brothers and sisters.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Cleveland, in Tennessee and in America!