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I love Cambodia.   (published in Cambodia)

February 20, 2013 by   Comments(0)

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I'm currently in the rather unexpected setting of a nice guest house in Ratanakiri province, about 10 hours drive north of Phnom Penh. Yesterday my section boss, Sopheap, asked whether I would like to join the trip to induct new members into the Indigenous People Project which is based in Ratanakiri - one of the provinces with the most indigenous people left. BCV created this project as whilst cultural and spiritual rights of the people in Cambodia are protected, it is easy for people who cannot speak Khmer or participate in local politics strongly to lose their voice and have a lot of their land and natural resources taken away. By 2015, they hope to devolve the project from BCV to make it function by its own rights.

So, I have come a long to get some provincial experience and see more of what BCV do. As most of you know, I'm not the most spontaneous person but hey - I'd just done some washing, had no reservations for the week and am up for adventure so why not! I've decided that living with Australians has made me much more relaxed. We set off at 8am (it was meant to be 7am but an hour late is Cambodian time) and arrived at just past 6pm - phew! A long journey. I had borrowed some travel sickness tablets from Chris before he left and took some - unfortunately making me rather sleepy for the whole journey. It was quite hard to stay awake - the others in the jeep (four/five of my colleagues) chatted away in Khmer with some infrequent English asking me if I would like some of the exotic fruit they were eating at the time. We stopped for a delicious lunch (I had beef lok lak which is fried beef in a sweet peppery sauce with a soft fried egg on top and fried rice) but the others had a traditional feast of scary looking things. We nibbled on a snack I had not seen before ...

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I love Cambodia.
I love Cambodia.

Zaterdag 16 februari 2013   (published in Tanzania)

February 20, 2013 by   Comments(0)

Aangename niet te vermoeiende dag doorgebracht met de kinderen. We hebben samen met de kinderen een duizendtal memory kaartjes gesorteerd die Jurry had afgedrukt. Alle kaartjes zijn per 2 in categorieën gesorteerd. Zulke eenvoudige bezigheden zijn voor deze kinderen een genot.

Voor de avond waren alle vrijwilligers van het weeshuis uitgenodigd op het huwelijksfeest van Agneta en Daniel, zoon van een bevriende onderwijs districtmanager. Zo een huwelijksfeestfeest verloopt in Afrika ietwat anders dan thuis. Iedereen is uitgedost zoals thuis op een gala of carnavalbal, één en al glitter en kitch. De gewone gasten zitten in de zaal te wachten op het bruidspaar. Dan komen achtereenvolgens de families binnen van de bruid en bruiudegom, gevolgd door de bruidsmeisjes en –jongens, de getuigen en tenslotte het bruidspaar zelf. Bij het binnen komen krijgt elke gast een witte zakdoek en een drankje (geen alcohol) Iedereen komt dansend binnen terwijl de aanwezigen in de zaal met de zakdoek zwaaien onder begeleiding van een koper blaasorkest. De hele plechtigheid wordt geleid door een ceremoniemeester die meer heeft van een stand-up comedian of entertainer. Er wordt gedansd en gezongen in een zaal die je alleen kan omschrijven als overdreven versierd (zie de foto’s) met zeer veel bloemen en lichtjes. Alles werd gefilmd en live vertoond op grote schermen. Thema was in dit geval oranje en zwart, dus de zaal maar ook de bruidsmeisjes en jongens waren in die kleuren. Er zijn zeer veel speeches, dankwoorden, wensen en er worden wederzijds geschenken aangeboden aan ouders en verdere familie. Wij als Mzungu’s hadden zeer veel bekijks en werden veel gefotografeerd. Het is zoals mama Dee zei alsof je een aapje op je feest hebt.  

De flessen ...

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Zaterdag 16 februari 2013
Zaterdag 16 februari 2013

Holiday of Love in Moldova - DRAGOBETE   (published in Moldova)

February 20, 2013 by   Comments(0)

By Ana Zaiat, student at the State University of Moldova  and collaborator of Projects Abroad

The holiday of love in Moldova is name Dragobete. “Dragobete”  is one of our traditional holidays, which comes from our ancestors.People as at Valentine’s Day give heart shaped cards.  Actually, I think that Dragobete has a beautiful story. It is the holiday which originates from Dacian times. It is the guardian of love as well as the holiday of love. Its name is derived from Dacian words Trago (goat) and Bete (legs). Trago has become Drago and Bete has been preserved into Romanian language and designates narrow belts and woven strips.

Dragobete is the son of Baba Dochia and this day (the 24th of February) he announces the arrival of spring. It is the time when the bear emerges from the den, when snowdrops appear, but people should participate in the joy of nature through love.

The celebration day coincide with theOrthodox feast “First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist”, called Bird Fiancé. According to Dacian tradition, Dragobete was the God of youth, the patron of good mood, of lifetime love and lovers. Dragobete is alike Eros and Cupid but had a totally different appearance, that of an impetuous and handsome man who twisted the minds of maiden and young wives. Because of this he has been punished and converted into a plant which bears till now his name.

 People say that on this day migratory birds gather in large flocks, speak their language and are looking for a suitable fellow.

Therefore, this day you should be besides your lover or to look for the Chosen one. People say as well if you find today your love, then you will be happy together for a lifetime, because there is a saying: ...

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Holiday of Love in Moldova - DRAGOBETE
Holiday of Love in Moldova - DRAGOBETE

Mongos, here I come!!!   (published in Mongolia)

February 20, 2013 by   Comments(0)

I'm a premed student who recently graduated from Michigan State University with my bachelors of science in Biomedical Laboratory Sciences. I've just taken my MCATs in January and now applying to grad school. This past summer, I moved back home and recently felt it in my heart that I wanted to volunteer abroad. In November, I started to do research and I landed on projects abroad's website and was instantly sold. Their program was so flexible and the brochures were sent to my house so quickly. I remember flipping through all the possible countries to visit and instantly fell in love with what Mongolia had to offer, with hands on experiences in their hospitals.

Anyways this past January, I applied to volunteer. I was skeptical at first because of the cost of the trip, but then I think God really took control of the situation. I was a temp at my work place and my contract was supposed to end in January, but my boss extended my contact. That was enough proof to me that my trip would be funded and that I was meant to go. I also asked a lot of my friends and family to help and support my trip, and one of my oldest but bestest friend Mary sent me my first check, which was such a huge blessing and really convinced my everything will be ok. So in early February, I was accepted immediately and with a leap of faith, I purchased my plane ticket and am now saving up to pay for the rest of the trip. I'm soooo excited and psyched for everything that I will be experiencing. I still cannot believe that this is actually happening, and I'm counting down the days. Can't wait to blog and share my trip with you all so follow along with me! :)

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Mongos, here I come!!!
Mongos, here I come!!!

Here at last...   (published in Peru)

February 19, 2013 by   Comments(0)

So I have officially been here for three whole days now, and after the many months of planning and money-making it feels amazing to finally be here. And here really is amazing. I think I´m falling in love with Peru already, with everything from the oh-my-goodness-surely-that´s-not-real views, to the little old ladies who tie their long plaits togther with string, to the markets where twenty types of corn is the norm. A lot is as I expected, but so much more is really different, and its the different bits that I love the most.

These first few days have required some fast-paced adjusting, but I think I´m just about staying afloat. A lot of the stuff that seemed weird or annoying when I first got here (the zero-pressure near freezing showers, the thousands of flies that refuse to die, the fact that you kiss everyone in the room every time you enter the room) are now, if not second nature, then nearing it. And some things, like the constantly changing weather, aren´t really that different from home!

The trickiest thing has, unsurprisingly, been my fairly dire lack of Spanish. But I am already getting better, and given that I can have basic conversations in the Holy Trinity of life (food, sleep and TV) it´s not all bad. I do spend a lot of time smiling and nodding, which I´m hoping my host family haven´t worked out means ´I´ve absolutely no idea what you just said but provided it was good I agree´. Occasionally, upon replying ´si´to something I´ll get a look like ´are you sure you with terrosism/the reintroduction of slavery/the abolition of chocolate´ and I´ll rapidly change to ´no.´ But thankfully that´s pretty rare, and I don´t appear to be earning ...

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Here at last...
Here at last...

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