Home sweet home

Political elections in CambodiaExcitement is in the air with the upcoming election this Sunday. Many of the streets are blocked off with rallies and political speeches causing an over abundance of traffic and chaos. Phnom Penh is far from a quiet haven for R and R. In fact, I have slept little.

Yesterday was spent at the yoga centre. Noa and Philippe investigated the broken down plumbing system in search of a simple way to ameliorate and me, upstairs with 12 teenage girls in the open air space assisting Dara who translated and Isabelle who taught. The girls are amazingly grateful and surprisingly devoted. All are victims of sexual exploitation and live securely in the local shelter of Transitions Cambodia. This heroic non-profit organization founded and directed by American James Pond, focuses on transitional living, assisting young women that have been sexually trafficked, exploited and abused in the process of healing and rebuilding their lives. Their web site alone will get you hooked but wait until you meet the girls!

Isabelle’s class with help from Dara was wonderful and I was surprised by their demonstration of concentration and devotion. Though we were unable to verbally communicate the current passed through warm smiles of respect and understanding. As of tomorrow, I will be on my own teaching the girls daily. I am looking forward to it!

We visited the Killing Fields late morning, which has only contributed, to my sleepless nights and uneasiness. It is unfathomable that such atrocities could occur in our time or any time for that matter!!

Jessica with the children of Cambodia

With a cloth bag thrown over our shoulders tightly filled with clothes and toys, we set out on foot in search of a small local orphanage called NACA. Devastated by political instability and the horrific Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970’s which murdered over 2 million Cambodians resulting in hundreds of thousands of children without parents or those too handicapped or poor to care for them Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. We learned the startling fact that over half of this countries population is under 18 and many crippled by Aids, poverty and illiteracy so where is their future? NACA in its simplicity offers kids with a splintered life a chance, a chance at life, a safe place to sleep, meals, love and happiness. They, like most organizations rely on donations, as the Cambodian government shows little if no support. Make sure you pick up one of their business cards before leaving. On the flip side there is an undescriptive map with a picture of a few faces from NACA under “orphanage” but sandwiched between them and the famous French Embassy there is in tiny print “another orphanage”. Why complicate things? Do as they do. There is enough to go around.

Hours later, covered in dirt and sweat we fell upon a thatched roof makeshift home housing 29 young kids with the most gorgeous smiles and warmest hearts ever to be seen. They welcomed us in herds with hugs and laughter. We spent hours in their presence, visiting their ”home” and their tiny cots sleeping 3 to 4. We handed over the treasures to the head master but what interested the kids even more was receiving our attention, our presence, our ears and our hugs. They surprised us with traditional Khmer music and dance. It was most touching. We will certainly return being that besides the centre and the orphanage, PP lacks interest.

Phil and Noa found the necessary pipes and tools for their project. It was like finding a needle in a haystack!!! Sure wouldn’t want to have to remodel a home here!

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