4 days and counting. I am excited and nervous. Wanted to write something here, just so I say I have. Last minute items to pick up and things to organize for a whole month away from home and work. I must provide a link to everyone so they can read the posts while I am away!
I thought I would share some Christmas memories! On Christmas eve my entire group went to a tapas resturant called Friends. The food was amazing! Then on Christmas day we had a huge feast. We also did secret Santa and I got a purse. This is what it looked like:
Check out my facebook for a video I made of riding on the back of a motorbike!
That was what we didn't expect, there were a lot of volunteers get together on Christmas Eve on 24th and Christmas Day 25th. About 30 volunteers had a dinner on Christmas eve at local restaurant called Friend. We enjoyed having a great food and drink until the end we took pictures. Thank to everyone for coming, especially to Susanna for her arrangement and idea.wh
On 25th, Christmas Day, we had a party on roof apartment 3 which was a special event called International Feast, everyone enjoyed making and sharing food made from our volunteers from each country. We ate varities of food, All were so good, yummy.
Last, we played Santa secret, gift exchanged. All suprised to get the gift and tried to guess who gave to them:).
So much Fun:).
Happy Merry Christmas to Everyone from Projects Abroad Cambodia.
Not the same as last month, in Dec 2011, there were not many participants in Dirty Weekend, just about eight volunteers, still we did a really good job. Thank to Alice, Tanita the main artish, Anneline, Bernhard, Imogen, Rianne, Rap for colouring :).
Time for an update - Today I'm going to be telling you guys about where I spend the majority of my time in Phnom Penh :)
The orphangage I work at is called Home of Love and it is a VERY nice orphanage compared to most in Cambodia. Most of Mother Teresa's orphanages are really well run and have super nice facilities, I have heard awesome things about her orphanage in Kolkata. Our orphanage is for young children from birth to 5 years old. When the kids turn 5 they have to go to the big kid orphanage, which apparently is a really big change. Our orphanage only has about 20 kids, but the places for older kids have about double that. Oh! Right now we have one pending adoption! It's very exciting. Munney will be getting adopted by a French family in about a month!
This is Munney:
This is where all the children sleep. We are considered a nice orphanage because we actually have mattresses and beds. Most orphanages just have the floor. We get good stuff because we take care of the newborns, I think. Here is a picture of the cribs:
These are just some assorted photos of the other volunteers and I. Emma is the tan one with brown hair and she is from Brisbane. Paschal is the redhead and she is from Paris. All the volunteers here become really close and it will be very very hard to say goodbye to all of them.
I have made friends with the nun's english teacher, Tida. She is my age and she goes to college here in Phnom Penh. Her major is archeology! She is probably the nicest person I have ever met in my entire life. She tells me all about the Khmer history, like the devastating genocide and khmer rouge. We are going to go to the genocide museum together sometimes this week. She also tells me about general Khmer culture. She explained that Westerners wear really offensive outfits. She said that if a Cambodian girl dressed like a Westerner, everyone would assume her to be a prostitute. This made me feel all of the sudden very aware of what I was wearing and now I try and cover my knees and shoulders as MUCH as possible.
I am falling in deep deep love with this place. I can't believe a week has already passed! Only 3 more to go :( Next weekend I am going on a mini vacation to Siam Reap! That is where the famous Angkor Wat temples are and I am super excited. We are going there in boat and it takes like 12 hours, so I will have plenty of time to read and rest before 3 days of temple hiking. I will also spend my new years at the temples... should be interesting!
I miss everyone! Here are some messages for individuals:
Amy & Allyson - It was weird not having Christmas with you guys. I miss you so much! I think I drank too much wine at our Cambodian Christmas party because I cried a little bit to this one Belgian girl about how I have the best sisters ever. I was like, "I wish they had jet packs so they could just come down for a few hours and open their presents I got them."
Holly - Sorry I could only talk to you briefly on the phone, international calls are stupid expensive and it's hard to hear the other person. I miss you so much and I just know you would really love it in Phnom Penh! Cambodian's love pale girls, so you and Katie would be major hotties here. Cambodian girls bleach their skin to look more like Westerners, HA!
Carey - I'm so sorry to hear about your grandma :( I'm sad I can't be there with you. I hope you have a SAFE New Year and I will call you on New Year's eve. Tell your family I said happy holidays, please.
Katie - I miss you too, weirdo. I heard about what you did to our sliding glass doors. Give Junie and Dylan major kisses... I miss those fluffs.
Brittany - I HAVE SO MUCH TO TELL YOU.
PawPaw - I'm glad you are reading my blog! I hope you enjoy it :) I will see you when I get back. Happy early birthday!
Daddy - Happy early birthday to you too! If you were here you would eat the fried bugs they sell on the street and the bbq chicken feet... just like Andrew Zimmerman!!
Mommy - I think about you the most.
Ramona - There are stray dogs that live on the street medians here and they are really smart. I watched them cross a busy street as a pack and it was really impressive. If you visted, they would probably think you have a funny accent.
To start off, this is a picture of my street! i didn't really get a chance to rotate it:
Next, a picture of my front gate area. That's Bernard walking in the house:
This is our kitchen! I know in my last post I said they don't have stoves. Well, they do I got confused. They don't have ovens:
This is my room! All I have to sleep with is a single sheet, my cat pillow Katie and Holly made, and mosquitoes:
This is how we do laundry: wash clothes in a giant bucket with laundry powder and then hang clothes on the roof to dry. Now all of Phnom Penh will get to witness my unders fluttering in the wind:
And of COURSE my sweet roommate, Helen:
Next time I will have pictures from the orphanage and the temple where people go to meditate on Thursdays! It's beautiful and we are all going there tomorrow.
Ok, sorry guys. I was really being a diva yesterday. I am making friends here!!! As of yesterday. They are from the coolest places. My roommate is named Helen (China), my housemates are Anna Kay (New Orleans), Francesco (Italy), Bernard (Germany), Iris (Sweden), and Raff (Australia). Everyone is SUPER nice and all the accents are so cute. People think my accent is confusing and they think I am from England. Yesterday we pulled names to do secret Santa! We are celebrating Christmas on Sunday by making a huge meal and doing a gift exchange. Everyone is going to make a dish from his or her homeland. I am doing cranberry sauce because mashed potatoes was already taken by the one other American. The thing is, people in Cambodia don't use stoves... so we are really limited. Everyone is just excited to not have to eat rice. We eat rice with EVERY meal. Sometimes if the meal is too weird, I just eat rice with soy sauce and an apple. I know I sort of talked about the meals in the last post. But seriously, I do not know how to describe the food here. None of the volunteers ask what they are eating. We sit and we eat, no questions asked. Partly because we don't want to know and partly because the cook's English is not good enough to explain it. It's usually some type of meat with undistinguishable vegetables in sauce.
So anyways, I want to sort of explain our living situation. I live in an apartment with 3 levels. Each level has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Down stairs is the family room where we have movie night and the kitchen and dining room. We have a cook and security guard from 24/7. We all start our day at 7:00. We make toast with jam and eat fruit for breakfast. Coffee, jelly, and butter are all luxury items and we have them on rare occasions. At 8:45 we all have tuk tuk's pick us up. A tuk tuk is a guy on a small motorbike attached to a little carriage. My tuk tuk's name is Sal and he doesn't have a carriage so I just sit behind him and hang on for dear life. He has a really complicated Cambodian name that I can't pronounce for the life of me, so we agreed I'd call him Sal. Sal takes me to the orphanage at 8:45, picks me up at 11am to go home for lunch, takes me back to the orph at 2:45 (a 3 hour lunch!!) and finally at 5:30 takes me home for the night. Dinner is at 7 and movie night starts at 8.
I would quickly like to comment that the #1 cause of death in Cambodia is motorbike accidents. This means I am living on the edge.
Ok, I feel like I have so much to tell and my fingers can't go fast enough. By next post I will have PICTURES! YAY! (of the apartment and of the orphanage)
p.s. - The toilet paper here is pink.. AdOrAbLe!!
I really do love it here. I wish I had planned a 2 or 3 month trip so I could really immerse myself into the culture. I'm not going to want to come back! The only reasons I will be coming back are:
a. I have to feed Junie wet food
b. my pending degree
c. hot water
choum reap lia (goodbye in Khmer),
Ja time flies. Voor je het weer is het alweer bijna 2012, kerstmis en nieuwjaar voor de deur. Laatste dagen waren erg druk. Afscheidsfeestje voor verschillende vrijwilligers die ik vanaf het begin af aan kende. Mijn flatmaatje Camille is 2 dagen geleden vertrokken terug naar Frankrijk.
Voor Camille was het een van haar laatste dagen, dus we besloten om heel erg veel fruit te kopen en aan de kinderen uit te delen. Ik heb mijn ananas snij skills even in de strijd gegooid, en 8 van deze vitaminebommen snijden zonder dat er keiharde stukken inzitten is nog een aardige klus. Maar na een uurtje snijden en helemaal plakkend was al het fruit eindelijk gesneden en hebben we de 70 kids in rijtjes laten zitten en alles uitgedeelt. En om die glimlachjes te zien was het werk driedubbel en dwars waard.
Alice en ik hebben paar dagen geleden 2 grote glijbanen gekocht voor VCAO. Wonderbaarlijk genoeg kosten deze ''maar'' 100 dollar per stuk. De ouders van Alice zullen een groot deel betalen. Maar wij hebben ook ons steentje bijgedragen. Ik zal helaas niet meer bij de school zijn als deze worden bezorgt. Ik krijg wel de foto's van Alice dus ik weet in ieder geval hoe het eruit ziet. Misschien kom ik nog wel even terug bij de school als ik terugkom van mijn reis, maar dat weet ik nog niet zeker.
Ook nu het reizen dichterbij komt moet ik wat actie gaan ondernemen. Ik heb mijn visa voor Laos vanochtend gekocht, en ik heb samen met Laure onze 3 weken durende reis in Laos een beetje uitgestippeld. Ontdekt dat er ook een Karst gebergte in Laos is, deze ga ik dan ook zeker bezoeken. Was erg gefacineerd toen ik het Karst gebergte in China zag.
Maar eerst mijn eerste warme kerst en nieuwjaar overleven. Voor nieuwjaar ben ik Siem Reap met 2 andere vrijwilligers, we gaan daar 2012 inluiden en de Tempels van Angkor bezoeken. Ik heb net ook mijn foto's ge-upload die ik de afgelopen weken heb gemaakt.
So, today is my first day in Cambodia. I got in yesterday after two days of traveling. Yesterday afternoon after I got in I fell asleep immediately for about 4 hours, woke up to eat dinner, and then fell asleep for another 13 hours. Today has been interesting. I feel like I am in a cloudy dream because of all the travel and my perception of time is really off. I feel like I have been here for almost a week and it has been 2 days.
BUT, about my trip so far... When I got in yesterday afternoon I met all the other volunteers that live in the apartment with me. Out of about 30 volunteers only three of them are from the US! It's mostly Australians here. People were pretty nice, but I didn't remember anyone's name because I was so tired. This morning I woke up and took a cold shower (no hot water here!) and ate a breakfast, which only includes a piece of toast and some sort of fruit. I had an apple and toast with the strangest tasting jelly I have ever eaten. The food here is so strange. Last night for dinner I had pork with cucumber and rice. I have never had cooked cucumber with pork in a salty sauce before. I think I hated it, but I was too hungry to think about taste.
This trip is so different from what I thought it would be! All the volunteers here go out at night on the weekends and party hard. We have a "club" right next to our apartment that has karaoke at night that we can hear as we fall asleep. None of the volunteers go there though because there are too many prostitutes. The volunteers said even I can drink in Cambodia and they said I should come out some night. I was like, "I can drink anywhere, I'm 22." They thought I was 16 or 17 years old. Typical. SO anyways, the volunteers use Sunday to recover from Friday and Saturday night and then work hard at their placements all week. We all have different placements. Some people are here to teach, to do marine conservation, or to provide care (my placement is a care placement). My placement is at Mother Teresa's orphanage Home of Love. I will be going there with 1 other girl from Sweden whom I cannot remember the name of... My first day is tomorrow!
I am currently dealing with severe culture shock. Phnom Penh is so different from any other place I have ever been. Right now my biggest concern is making friends with the other volunteers. For some reason it's been a little tough and I think it's because they think I am really young. There is this one guy with a broken foot from France who is super cool and we watched Indian TV together last night. I think he plucks his eyebrows because they look fantastic.
OK before I finish up, I have to talk about my roommate. She is so sweet, only I can't remember her name either. She is from China but goes to university in Australia. She drinks carrot juice and she is 25. That is all I know because she got here today. I think I better go take a nap, I'm starting to feel weird and I have to work in 2 hours at the orphanage. I hope this blog sort of made since... I'm too tired to edit it :(
How much do you value your education? I’m not referring to the school fees you or your parents paid. I mean, what is the financial value you can put on the knowledge you acquired while studying at high school, university, or your Masters or PhD? Perhaps you value it by what you earn from the day you graduated until the day you retire. However there are many intangible benefits that are unquantifiable. For example, you are currently reading this blog. If you had no education, you might be illiterate, and unable to read or write. Try to imagine what life would be like for you – how seemingly simple tasks like reading road signs or a menu would be impossible, not to mention holding a job that paid a decent wage.
In Cambodia, this is a serious reality for many – a third of Cambodians are illiterate due to the impact of the Khmer Rouge regime, in which all educated Cambodians (especially teachers) were killed. The current public school system provided by the Cambodian government is pretty shoddy. The teachers are not highly skilled and are paid such low wages that they sometimes ‘charge’ students to attend classes, in effect, asking for a bribe to receive a state education. Many poor Cambodians cannot afford to pay this ‘bribe’ to continue to send their children to school, and they certainly cannot afford to send their children to university. In effect, due to the lack of education, many Cambodians will be condemned to a life of low-skilled work and poverty.
How can Cambodia change this cycle of poor education for its people? The answer is to pay their teachers more, and make university free for all. However, Cambodia is still too poor to do this, and in the meantime, Cambodia is facing a new economic future without the skilled population required to deliver it.
So what can you do? Maybe you can take a career break and come out to Cambodia to teach English! Failing that, you can sponsor a student for a month, or a year to attend university- it is so cheap that only $150 will cover all the student’s costs for one month! That is the equivalent of a grocery shopping trip or a Saturday night out in London. A worthy charity to donate to is the NGO that I have been teaching with the last 11 weeks, Chances 4 Cambodia.
Chances 4 Cambodia (C4C) is a newish (operating for only 4 years) non-profit NGO organisation that is helping to transform Cambodia's future by providing university education to smart, hardworking students from extremely poor families. C4C provides the tuition, books, housing and food to 30 students, but also provides the laptops as well. Once the students have graduated and are earning decent salaries, they must begin repaying the scholarship, so C4C can sponsor more students. C4C's work is critical to transforming Cambodia from the poorest, least educated country in Southeast Asia, to a country on par with Thailand or one day Taiwan.
I have gotten quite close to my students in the last two months, and they are so wonderful, hard working, keen to learn English and are studying hard for their degrees. I know they will get great jobs, working in banking or as doctors, and they will be able to lift their families from the poverty they currently face. However, their sponsorships are not all guaranteed for each student for the whole of their education, and C4C still needs more donations to ensure all my students can graduate. Moreover, if C4C could receive even more donations, they could sponsor more than the 30 students they currently support! A mere $100 donated by a hundred people would result in approximately 10 students’ education for one year. I ask that you consider what value you have put on your education, and what could be the intangible value of the education of Cambodia?
If you are interested in donating, even only $20, please click on the link below to use their PayPal account.
If you would like to know more about C4C, please click on the link below.
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