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Last Updated:
Mar 29th, 2006 - 15:51:15 


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The Travels of our First Webmaster

Voices of Spencer Creek

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Bhavia's Cambodia

September 11, 2001 changed the world for many people. For Bhavia it became a call to make a difference.

By Lois Barton

Posted on Feb 24, 2006

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"Village Children at Play," photo by Stuart Bradley

I have a near neighbor who is doing remarkable things with her life. I first learned about her when she transferred her membership in the Society of Friends from a Meeting in the Bay Area of California to the Meeting in Eugene. Then I discovered that she had moved into a nearby home across the fields of this old homestead where we have lived for more than 50 years. When I phoned to visit we talked about getting together and then she walked across the fields to our place one morning a couple of years ago.

When Carol Wagner visited here I learned that she had written a book about Cambodia titled Soul Survivors. I had a chance to read and review that book about the survival of 14 people whose stories begin with their sufferings and tell of their progress in basic survival since the civil war there. The book was published in 2002.

During a recent interview I learned that after working at a peace center in Berkeley, Carol's wish to be involved in gardening took her to Findhorn in Northern Scotland for a year and a half. Findhorn was founded in 1962, an eco-village built around an experimental garden setting in a spiritually based community in Moray, Scotland, where gardening was not generally successful.

In 1991 Carol went on a peace walk to Vietnam with a group of folks one of whom knew some health workers in Cambodia. Carol went along to Cambodia and while there met a Cambodian orphan who had lived in the United States. This man introduced her to another orphan, and through these and other contacts Carol gathered the material for her book which was published in 2002.

I haven't seen much of Carol Wagner during the interim, but knew of her work through the grapevine of our Friends' Meeting community. Carol changed her name to Bhavia, a move connected to her relationship with a spiritual teacher in India.

She told me that the incident which motivated her to do this was the 9/11 disaster in NYC. She wanted to bring some kindness to the world. In 2003 Bhavia established a non-profit organization called Friendship With Cambodia.

A newsletter she gave me during our recent interview says FWC raised $20,000 in 2004. These funds are primarily administered through a partner organization in Cambodia: Southeast Asia Development Program. SADP supports ten small NGOs created and run by Cambodian women in rural areas. These works include: self-help projects with poor children and with women, landmine assistance (Bhavia says there are 4 to 6 million land mines and two or three people are injured daily), home care for families with AIDS (a big problem since one out of 10 girls in Cambodia is stolen for prostitution), education about Cambodia for US consumption, and friendship tours to Cambodia.

Bhavia has led several groups under the Global Exchange program and is currently on another trip to Cambodia taking friends who wanted to go. She expects to spend a month in India before returning home in mid-March.

Friendship With Cambodia has two chapters, one here in Oregon and another in California. For a contribution to FWC of $180 you can sponsor a child over there in school for a year, buying clothes, books and probably a bicycle to ride to school. "Half the girls and a quarter of the boys in Cambodia never have the opportunity to go to school due to poverty," according to the FWC newsletter. Conversations with Bhavia are filled with heartbreaking information about the crying needs of those people.

FWC has a board of directors and many volunteers who organize fundraising. Bhavia is the only paid staff, a full-time job, plus she works half-time for Food For Lane County. What a neighbor to me and Cambodia... What a woman!

Copyright © 2006 by Lois Barton

Also visit Bhavia's Letter from Cambodia: A Land of Extremes at Visit Lois Barton's review of Soul Survivors at West By and order at Powell's link to the left in the blue column. Or order direct from the author at Bhavia says: My publisher went out of business, but less than perfect copies can be ordered from me for $15 including postage, checks made out to:
Book c/o Bhavia Wagner
PO Box 5231,
Eugene, OR 97405

You may contact Friendship With Cambodia at
PO Box 5231, Eugene, OR 97405
Phone (541) 343-3782,
E-mail at

Writer and historian
Lois Barton

Lois Barton is an 86 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil.

Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Follow the links of the Voices of Spencer Creek for the most recent articles by Lois Barton, including:

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of the Smoking Chimney

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of Big Oak Stables

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Fishy Story

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Different Peace

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Hal and the Mountain

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Rogue River Adventure

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Obituary for a Country Cat

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Cortesia Sanctuary

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Tree and Me and Lady Slippers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Cranberries

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Endurance Riding

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Butterflies and Community Development

and The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Last Gift.

See more of Lois Barton's articles in West By online magazine's archives:

Visit the Heron Rookery

Sauerkraut and All That

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife–The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

© Copyright 2000-2004 by West By

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