I obviously need to stop with the Phillip Phillips song references. But, hear me out as to why it was the most apt title. I have now finished up my last week in Cambodia, a week that seemed so far off when I arrived. And I will be frank, after my first few days, I wanted to pack up and run. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, maybe I missed home, maybe it was too hot, maybe I wanted the summers I had come to expect. Or maybe I was just unready to deal with the fact that I would be without the comforts of my life in the U.S (too many maybes? Maybe). Whatever the reason, as the excitement and anticipation slowly faded into reality within the first week, I was ready to call it quits (and you thought I was just having a merry little time didn’t you?).
After a day perched atop an elephant, we decided to give our bodies (READ: our groins) a rest and venture around Mondulkiri on another mode of transportation: the almighty moto. Now, granted, riding a moto for extended periods of time also puts a substantial strain on your glutes, but it is considerably faster than the long strides of Elephas maximus. And boy does that cool wind feel good going through my nowtoolongformyliking locks. But as these two wheels took me from waterfalls to jungles to viewpoints, I kept hoping my driver would slam his steed into fourth gear and drive me till Earth’s end.
As the bus climbed its way up 800 meters towards Sen Monorom, the view through the window was that of trees perched upon verdant rolling hills. The flora was a vibrant color of deep, untouched green, overgrown and full of life contrasting the bright red clay dirt on which it sat. The fauna buzzed about, filling the air and leaving their marks upon the ground. It all coalesced into the portraiture of pristine and untraveled Mondulkiri, the Meeting of the Hills. Well, that’s what it should have been.
Support is the word I hear most often around the office when it comes to people living with HIV/AIDS. “Our mission is to support these people,” “We support them by providing transportation and resources,” “We support people with HIV/AIDS and their families financially, physically, and mentally.” I think you get the point. But what does that exactly mean? What is the manifestation of this mantra? I have gotten to see and help with many of the programs with my organization has implemented in hundreds of villages across Cambodia, which has indeed been an eye-opening and humbling experience. But one of my last visits to a Caritas living compound revealed some flashing lights and hidden corners in the world of HIV/AIDS efforts.
Cambodia has taught me a lot. Maybe not necessarily directly, but this trip has been one where I have been challenged to think about what it means to live in poverty and how NGO structures and actions really work in the face of development. Between observations and frustrations, there are a couple things so far that I will carry with me back to the States. Some I knew but have really seen come to life, some became instant realizations, and some have come through the slow observation and learning process here in the motherland.
Thou shalt not lie. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I promised to blog, and what do I do? I find every excuse to not write. I should probably never be a professional blogger. Is that a job? When did I update you last? Like, after my first week? I really deserve to be liked slapped on the wrist or something like that. Except, I’ve been told corporal punishment is not the way. I digress. Continue reading
Who is really bad at keeping up with a blog? Me. And for that, I apologize. But I am supposed to be living the Cambodian Experience, right? You can’t fault me for that can you? Ok, enough with the rhetorical question. I’ve been in Cambodia for a week and half now, and it has been a time where I have been challenged at every turn, whether that is finding my way around the city, communicating with tuk tuks on how to get me home, or carving a place for me at work, or deciding what is safe to eat and what is not. Continue reading
When I arrived in Cambodia, the first thing I thought was “Wow, the humidity is worse than I remember.” Let’s just say that that feeling didn’t dissipate, unlike the lakes of sweat I accrued this weekend. Brenna and I arrived in Cambodia late on Friday night and were greeted by a nice guy named Liam (for us Americans) who got us a tuk-tuk which would take us to where we were staying. Along the way, he casually mentioned that instead of the guesthouse we would be staying with a family closer to where we would be working. While surprised/apprehensive at first, I quickly realized it’s all about rolling with the punches in Cambodia. Continue reading
Apparently, the worldwide web isn’t so worldwide. Actually, it is much harder to come across when you have very limited transportation. I was placed with a host family (who are the nicest people), and so my internet is actually must more limited than I had originally planned. But, I am working on getting an internet stick to let me have freer access (as I am currently in an internet cafe surrounded by twelve year olds playing Counterstrike).
This is just a small update to tell you I am internet handicapped. But more on my Cambodia adventures to follow!
The day is finally upon us. Cambodia here I come. (Well more like here I am) It started as an early morning, leaving for the airport around 1am to catch our 6am flight (because of this, I apologize for my appearance in any upcoming photos). We got there and the airport wasn’t even open yet, so we sat around on the floor with a surprising amount of people. Who knew that the airport was the place to lay on the cold floor and wallow in not being able to sleep for fear of missing your flight. I didn’t, that’s for sure.
We had to take lookout shifts while the other slept. That’s teamwork y’all. Continue reading