Not quite sure what day of the week it is as the hours and even seconds seem to melt into one another creating experiences that are beyond time. Up too early to mention with the ritual gong of metal pots awakening the monks for their morning prayers, my mind spins with thoughts of the girls. We leave today and I feel torn. This short time with them has changed us all and we yearn for it to last. As Noa continues to sleep silently by my side and Phiippe stirring from my restlessness, I slip from under the single sheet, dress quickly, and descend the steep spiral staircase in search of Arun, by all means the nicest and most humble of our hosts- a replica of a Buddhist monk without the orange robe. He greets me with the traditional ”sua sdei”, hands pressed together in prayer in front of the heart.
The rest of the world appears to be in deep slumber until I make my way out onto the large avenue Norodom Blvd via tuk tuk. Pi, the tuk tuk driver who calls me ”my friend” swiftly maneuvers his rusty vehicle through the insane early morning traffic reaching Transitional Cambodia just before 7-am. Jaya and a handful of the girls greet me at the entrance, eager for a hug and to show me their rooms. Unlike the other shelters that we spent time in, Transitional Cambodia was simple but spotless. Three to a tiny room, each with their own shelf for their personal possessions and the luxury of a toilet! They have a full schedule of cleaning their space, Khmer and English classes as well as computer and arts and crafts. The girls each have their own yoga mat and a sacred space with pictures of yoga positions pasted on the wall. They learn to develop curiosity, independence and responsibility in hopes that one day they will be able to care for themselves without the risk of returning to drugs and prostitution. N.Y, C.T, D.C, (names are concealed for protection), and Dara are seriously interested in continuing their yoga studies and hope to teach in their spare hours. For this, we would like to develop a sponsorship program for teaching yoga. I had tears and a torn heart saying good-bye to these angels.
Sandwiched between Jaya and Dara, we spun through the crowded streets on Dara’s motor cycle (a first in a long time). Thankfully Dara’s long black silky hair waved wildly in my face keeping me from seeing and wanting to control the craziness ahead. Between honks and touts, I listened to Jaya’s ”story” of her early life and that of some of the girls.. We parted with a few tears and promised to keep in touch ”lia hai, lia hai”.
Philippe and Noa were upstairs on the terrace savouring hot ginger tea, sweet banana pancakes, exotic fruit salad and lemon mint ice shakes. I arrived just in time for the best (well one of the best) meals of the day! Isabelle and Dara met us for the feast while sharing some last minute ideas for future work with us and the girls. We were sad to say good bye but had a bus to catch and an adventurous one at that.