2019 Youthlinc Real Life Refugee Scholarship Winners Youthlinc is pleased to announce a new…
A lot of people have asked me why I chose to go to Cambodia. There were several reasons. First I wanted to go somewhere to that I could be involved with affecting positive change. Second I had always wanted to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia is pretty close. Third I knew the Team Leader and her husband from high school and thought that would be fun (getting Rich and Bonnie who had been on my Kenya team in 2001 was an added bonus).
When I got over there though the reasons stayed the same but I had never imagined what a difference it could make in my life or how much I would really love it. The town we were staying in was surprisingly modern in a lot of ways…but as soon as we crossed over onto that dusty red bumpy road it was like transcending time. Oxen pulling wooden carts, people carting large bundles of sticks on their bicycles, children running around naked, people carefully working in the rice paddies trying to grow enough food for their families and to sell (rarely were they able to do both). Houses up on stilts to protect from the monsoon floods, no shoes, fruit stands, gasoline in old soda bottles, all of the children smiling and waving everytime we drove by. From what I have read now about the Khmer Rouge time period, it seems like the people who survived reverted back to the way of life in the early 1970’s and haven’t moved forward in time since in these rural villages, out of necessity, inability, or limited resources I would guess. This is a country full or resilient people determined to survive. It was a privledge to help them in any way we could.
It was incredible to watch the giving of something as simple as a chicken, pig, or cow; a water filtration system, clothes, a stethoscope, or books make such an impact on their lives. These are sustainable things that can change their family and individual lives for the better. It was incredible to watch the people in Peak Sneng see what we were doing and immediately decide to jump in and help as well, becoming invested in improving the school and their children’s futures. It was incredible to watch our team change and to change myself.
During our last team reflection Kyler and Annalisa had us write a poem reflecting on our experience. This was my poem (which included a common logo we saw around town):
I came to Cambodia to be myself.
I left here SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
SAME SAME BUT BETTER.
Thanks for reading about my adventures. If you are interested in reading more about our trip from my view please check out this link to a list of Cambodia Youthlinc posts on my personal blog.
“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment. We can start now, start slowly, changing the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!” Anne Frank