May 2010

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Ahh… the ABC’s. Ants and Air-conditioners, Bags and Birthdays, Computers and Concerts; these last few weeks have had them all. Glad we didn’t hit the D’s because there wasn’t much room. It seems with the start of the rainy season (this one has been pretty dry and HOT so far) the ants have not only figured out how to open zip-lock bags but also the refrigerator door. That new talent may not be related to the search for food, but rather a cool place to escape the heat. So, I can understand their effort. I too love a comfortable, climate-controlled place to enjoy a meal.


Speaking of effort, the kids are all about school, school, school right now as they are getting close to finishing up the year. The older high school kids are doing morning and evening ‘part-time’ classes, along with our Monday/Wednesday conversation lessons and Tuesday/Thursday Rosetta Stone English computer classes. And, the little kids are right on their tail. I’m getting midnight calls from the university students with questions on topics ranging from micro-biology to business management. Fortunately, they know the answers and I just help a bit with grammar or how to pronounce a word or two. You know, like, diaphragmatic or destabilization. Come to think of it. There were a few ‘Ds’ this month.


Between the books, we squeezed in some birthdays; Pastor Peter and Naomi celebrated a new year, and Cambodia also partied in it’s two thousand five hundred and fifty ah…. something’th year. Now, it’s difficult to pull off a surprise party for a country, but we were able to do it for both Pastor Peter and Naomi. There were songs and sparklers, cakes and confetti, as well as salted clams, fried chicken, and curry soup. Mmmmmm….


Chumpuan High School, where all our kids go, held it’s annual talent show just last week and Meta, Vannak, To and Saran showed off their latest dance moves, while Sophoan served as MC for the event. This is something I have been impressed by ever since getting here. Considering many of our kids first arrive in Chom Chao; malnourished, unclothed, and parentless, they then grow up strong, confident, talented, well-spoken leaders in their schools and among their friends. It is a wonder to see their progress, and to watch as they each adopt and nurture one another. Yesterday, I watched a pick-up soccer match in our gravel parking area. There were eight on each team and the ages ran from six to eighteen years old. No one was excluded, the ball was passed to everyone, they all played, they all laughed. But, they also kept it ‘professional’ and as new kids arrived, young or old, they were rotated in by, Roat and True, the team captains. They learn the rules and the strategies. They develop their skills and build their confidence because they understand team-work, unity, and because they are respected as equals; and in-turn each respects their captain. Okay, maybe I’m over thinking it, but that is sure the way it looks when you watch these kids work and play together. This could be Cambodia’s World Cup team in the making. They are good!

What’s Happening with the EVT Program?

The sewing machines are singing. We have two new bag designs running through production and the girls are doing great with each of them. Yesterday, I met with SomNeang, one of our managers, and said that every time I come in expecting a particular bag style to be too complicated, she and the girls already have one or more finished that are market-ready; no changes needed. Amazing! Even the small pieces or fasteners that could be bought pre-made , they have hand-cut themselves and worked into place. Stephan, a coworker, said the other day, ‘Cambodia is not a place with problems, it is a land of solutions’. This is very true. If they are missing something here or there, they will still find a way to get the job done. Yes, a land of MacGyvers.

We are also putting together one batch of bags to send to Singapore, and another for the US that will be sold as as a Fund Raiser for a youth group. The first samples of our bicycle bag are complete and I’m excited to get them to the States for inspection by our soon-to-be shop owner. So, the pedals pushed, the stitches streaming, and the bags moving off the machines at a blurry=eyed pace. The girls are excited as each bag increases their education fund and brings their university hopes a little closer.

Things learned this month:

The bluer the sky in the morning; the stronger the winds, heavier the rain, brighter the lightening, louder the thunder, and thus deeper the rivers I drive through to get to class in the afternoon.

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