I'm clean again.............
Trip Start Dec 25, 2009
23Trip End Feb 08, 2010
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It won't last long but what a treat I had yesterday – 3 hours of being scrubbed and pampered and massage to emerge white and clean once more.
Annie called it my half-way scrub.
RESOLUTION: to go again next week….
Last week’s theme at school was "The Children’s World". Having done “The World” the week before, we had soon realised that this had no real meaning for them so decided to relate more locally.
So the first creative project of the week was to draw a picture of their house
A quick excuse here – if I lose my train of thought it is because there seem to be ants all over me and the computer this morning!!
The reading project for Monday was “The tortoise and the hare”. The kids seemed to enjoy this and also seemed to learn the message. The class was quickly divided into natural Tortoises and Hares which made them all laugh. Keeping face is a big thing here so no one wanted to be a hare!!!
The other creative workshop topic for the week was to prepare for today’s football tournament
When we planned the week ahead, Annie and I made sure we delegated plenty to the new volunteers (4 new ones arrived – Sabrina, Karen, Nik and Sophie) including leaving them on their own for a full day on Wednesday so we could tour some of the other projects. We started our day at Green Gecko (www.greengeckoproject.org) which is truly amazing and the role model for the local Globalteer project, Grace House. Started just a few short years ago, this is now home to 60 – 70 street kids. They live here and are go off to school from here. It really is their home (even if they do have families of sorts) and the place is clean and orderly as the kids take responsibility and do their own housekeeping. And it all started with one girl buying dinner for these street kids when they were out begging… I hope to get to meet Tania before I leave. What an example!
The next project we visited was Grace House (www.gracehousecambodia.com) – set up by Globalteer to follow on the inspiration of Green Gecko
Last, but not least, is the New Hope Community Centre. This is a small (in size, not volume) but very busy community centre in a ghetto near the main Angkor Wat temples. You really do go off into the back streets to find this one and it is clearly a real hub of activity for the local community. (www.newhopecambodia.com). There is a full time dispensary which has just taken 15 volunteer trainee nurses from Australia. There is no doctor, but the nurses can give out basic medication and will take the person to hospital if they feel the need. Remember, these people don’t even have the means to get to the local hospital
But there is much positive at New Hope too. They hold workshops for the older kids who will cycle miles to attend an advanced English or Computer class after school. Some company in Australia has donated some old laptops so there are a fair number of computers here and solar power had been set up to run them. There is a sewing room and a cookery school. As with all the projects, there is a weekly rice drop for all the families so that the kids don’t have to beg to eat. Great stuff!
Then on Friday as a special treat (thanks again Lay Hoon - from the kids and all the volunteers who shared the day) we took the kids to The Cambodia Cultural Centre
So at 8 in the morning we piled the morning kids into the flat bed truck and off we set. We brought this lot back at 11:30, they showered and we all lunched together before they went off to school and the afternoon lot piled in the truck. But not before they had heard ALL about it from the morning group.
Each one was given a bottle of water and a bun which was probably consumed before even we got there! Some had no shoes so were barefoot. Goodness knows what the rich tourists thought (some were photographing us). Everyone was excited but the afternoon lot more than the morning as they had been briefed. We certainly got some odd looks – a flat bed truck full of kids is no rare sight but with half a dozen “barang” (foreigners) looming over the heads of the kids we did rather draw attention. So lots of waving was called for….
As is the way, there was some administrative hassle to get us all in
Once inside the children had a ball. It has to be said that they loved the simple things – feeding the fish; playing in the park; climbing on King Kong. Then we passed the Tunnel of Judgement……
This was extra but faced with a gaggle of kids begging to go in, a couple of volunteers agreed to pay. It was like a haunted house. We shuffled the first lot in innocently. A bit like lambs to the slaughter. We would know better for the afternoon lot…..
I was last in and there were a couple of the younger girls holding back. I naively said that it would be fun and not to worry. IT WAS AWFUL. As soon as you entered, it was pitch dark. I couldn’t see a thing. To assure the 2 little one I fumbled in my bag for my Dominion Marine torch (bit of free publicity there Catherine) but it was too late. There were actor monsters and groans in all directions. The girls (actually, second thoughts read everyone for this) were terrified and one of the little ones was sobbing her heart out. I picked her up in my arms to reassure her and then tried to exit the way we had come in but by now the way was blocked by monsters that wouldn’t stop even though the whole group was screaming and many were already crying. As we fumbled through the dark, I could feel at least half a dozen pairs of hands holding on to me or my clothes. It was bumpy under foot so I had to be careful not to fall
We needed to find a high point to complete the morning outing as we did not want them having this scare as their last memory, so we went to the Khmer Wedding Ceremony where I was chosen to join the cast as mother of the groom!! In the normal world I would have declined. But I wasn’t in the normal world and there were 30 kids to be cheered up. So off I went up to the stage……. I had to sit as part of the wedding party, do the symbolic hair cutting and hand washing and then dance. Photographic evidence provided courtesy of one of the girls (on my camera). Actually the highlight for me was to be able to see the smiles back on the kids’ faces again. They loved it. All is well that ends well………
As I said things were a little easier in the afternoon. This time there was more going on (and less pressure to be back in time) so we managed the tunnel; a wedding and some theatre
It was a fantastic day and we all said that we had had an amazing experience and in an odd sort of way we feel closer to the kids having shared the tunnel trauma with them. It certainly gave us a greater insight into their culture. My only hope is that they didn’t all have nightmares afterwards! Me? I think I passed out with exhaustion at around 9pm!!
On a slightly separate (but related) note – we were advised of an eclipse for the afternoon lot. Information was decidedly sketchy but we were told that complete panic would set in if it got dark. With this in mind, we arranged to be inside at the appropriate hour. We needn’t have worried – it was only very partial here.
Well Annie will be home by now. It wasn’t the same without her last night and she will be missed at the football today but her hakka will live on!!!