I have been to Cambodia many many times, but its a country that never ceases to inspire me. In fact the inspiration often comes from watching the expressions of the lives of the people i take with me as they interact with the Cambodian people.
take Alex Teh for example who makes our van stop in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere, so he can give a teddy bear to a small child who is walking along the road with her grand mother. The childs expression was priceless. Or the tears that came to Kevin Mayalls eyes as he gave a poor farmer a bag and watched the man jump up and down with excitement from recieving a gift he never believed he would recieve.
This time at our orphanage in Siem Reap we were able to paint the sleeping room, where 42 children sleep and the kitchen area. They hadn’t been paineted since the place was built during the french occupation which finished 50 years ago. I must say we were more than messy on the new floor put down last time (thanks Brad) but the Khmer people were quick to clean that up, just a by product of the painting forthem.
we normally bike across the Mekong river, to an islend where we give away books to the school, but the bridge was washed away and the ferry (two old condemed boats tied together with some board over them to make a catamaran) was really slow. We found out why. Due to the rain the on ramp was a quagmire. It looked like the Somme battlefield circa 1915. Yet it did not stop the farmers pushing fully loaded carts with bricks onto an already sagging ferry and put the horses on later. A total view of team in every aspect.
We ventured to Rabbit Island 30 minutes off the coast of Cambodia near Kep, and by the time we got on the boat it was pitch black and we were crossing open ocean. Only to have to land not near our accomodation on the other side and thus trapse through the dark jungle for 500 metres carrying everything. My arms still twinge.
Our return boat was equally as funny as a major rain storm decided to open on us half way back soaking us and all our belongings to the bone. It was hilarious.
Lessons from Cambodia this time.
– Community. Everyone pitches in and lightens the load for one person. We see it all the time in Cambodia
– Forgiveness. During the civil war, brother fought brother and neighbour made neighbour a victim of the genecide. All was forgiven within a very short time, why can the christians and muslims do that, or even us with our neighbours
– Presence. The Cambodians have a saying: ‘We will die tommorrow’so they live every day as if it were their last. That way they have incredible fun.
Finally, my highlight. Sitting in the middle of the countryside one evening at a funeral drinking beer with a poor farmer. He kept rubbing his head on mine. He said:Even if we cant communicate verbally, we can always communicate: Profound.