July 2009

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Arun Sua s’dei,

 

For some reason the ants have decided to make my computer their new home. It’s a laptop, so maybe they like to travel as much as I do, either that or they like the Fruit Punch Gatorade that I spilled on the keys a little while back. What ever the reason, they do like to pop out in droves and scurry around as I hit ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘P’ or the ‘delete’ button. Speaking of scurrying around, or bouncing around with grit in your teeth and dusty red dirt as your eight, ninth and tenth layers of skin – July was a Cambodian countryside tour. Call the chiropractor!

 

The early part of the month was a Youth trip to Kampong Lang, and getting there was half the fun. With a dozen plus kids piled into a one-and-a-half ton truck, dodging, weaving and hitting potholes head on – it was an joint jaring, stomach churning, grit-your-teeth and laugh-out-loud rrrrrride, especially in the dark of night. And Pa Han, does love the sudden stops! But then we came to our last jolting stop at the edge of the Tonle Sap river where we got to transfer twenty cases of Muscle Milk, and power-bars, as well as music equipment and teaching supplies onto our VW-powered, 30-foot riverboat with fellow passengers, produce and live poultry. Ah… now when we hit short again, it was off with our supplies and on to another truck of sorts. This one a little smaller so of course the supplies go inside in case it rains and half our group rides astride the roof like a mechanical bull. All the better to see the countryside with, anyway. And, it didn’t rain much so we made it relatively dry. On our arrival at the home there were over 200 kids from the surrounding villages excitedly waiting. With one last steep turn off the raised dirt road and into the yard our truck came to stop, and our Youth went into action. And from 8:00 to 3:00, they taught and entertained the kids. There was singing, dancing, laughing and learning. The kids worked together in small groups and discussed the challenges and pitfalls of chasing material items, and the rewards of fellowship, friendship and supporting one another in school and around the home. It was a happy day that overflowed with wide smiles and warm words. Then, yes, it was back up on the truck, aboard the boat, into the next truck and down the dusty bumpy road back home.

 

Back in Phnom Penh, it was straight to the fast lane and learning medical vocabulary. I had five people in our home office and fifteen kids at the Center in Chom Chau studying everything from toenail to tuberculosis. We had one week to prepare our translators for the annual Medical Clinic. And, the added fun for this year was the location of Rattanakiri in the far northeast part of the country near the borders with Laos and Vietnam. The point making it most interesting, at least for our translators, was that they would be translating from English to Khmer (Cambodian), then yet another translator would take it from Khmer to the local hill-tribe language. Guess what? There are ten distinctly different hill-tribes and each with their own language. Are you scratching your head? I was. But yes, once again, the kids stepped up to the challenged. And many who were first time interpreters, and nervous about both the translation and speaking with the foreign doctors, jumped in and got the job done. It was awesome to see their confidence take off . As each new patient sat down, the translator determined which hill-tribe they came from and called out to one of the kids or caregivers from our Rattanakiri home who could translate to that particular language. It worked! And, in the three days that the clinic ran, we were able to treat over 1,600 patients. Unfortunately, the clinic got cut short by two days because the new provincial governor in town wanted to flex his muscles. Long story short, we had all the paperwork and approvals that we needed, but the ‘right eyes’ didn’t see it at the ‘right time’. And when they did see it, a new law suddenly appeared requiring each bottle of medication to be inspected. Of course, an envelope padded with a little somethin’ somethin’ would have worked but that just makes all future work there more expensive. So, this was a time to take one step back so that great strides came be made later.

 

What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:

So the E. in EVT was all about training for the medical clinic during the middle of the month. And with that finished up, it was straight in to preparation to the Teacher Training Conference that will start next Monday and run for one month. I have 25 Cambodian English teachers coming in from our different Homes in the province and we will be working on everything from lesson planning and classroom management to prepositions and pronunciation. Okay, so that’s not everybody’s cup up ‘kafe kadou tek tak goo’ (Latte). But, I love it.

 

As for the V, the girls who are sewing just keep amazing me. I talked about a ‘messenger type’ bag with Neang and Charvy the two managers and sure enough they not only designed and put one together, but they have taught the girls and as a group they have sewn more than thirty of them. Even better, they have already sold half of them. More, ‘woooo hoooo’ news is that through some generous donations and the girls work we are able to add to their personal education funds as well as add two new machines to our sewing room. We will get an over-lock machine and one more traditional sewing machine. Ziiiiip Ziiiiip

 

Things learned:

1. In Cambodia “jungle meat” takes “mystery meat” to a whole new level. And shopping for it

in the local outdoor market in Rattanakiri can drop your jaw to a new level as well.

2. Putting chains on your tires works just as well on a slick muddy roads as it does on an icy

snow covered road. Three cheers! for keeping our bus on the road and out of the river

100 feet down.

3. I found a place hear in Phnom Penh to get a great Apple Fritter. Nothing like a gooey sugar

glaze!

 


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