Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

A little love goes a long way.

Posted in Cambodia on December 29, 2008

December 17:
In the morning we worked at the composting bin. We were told we would be 'composting' and we were all very curious to know what this would entail. We spent the morning gathering up shrubs and chopping them into little pieces with machetes. Essentially, over the course of several hours, our group accomplished what a small gas powered machine could accomplish in one. But, this wasn't the point. When in Cambodia do as the Cambodians do. We were together. We were learning. The real purpose wasn't lost though. By this point, we have mostly let go of the 'get things done as fast and efficiently as possible' way of thinking. Things are different in Cambodia. People are different. I think we are all now a little different.

Tired, we took an early lunch and feasted on what would be our last meal prepared by my favorite Cambodian cook (and my favorite Cambodian) – Saran! For me this was the best meal I have had in Cambodia. She prepared ample amounts of curry crab. Have I mentioned yet that I love crab? Anyhow, she prepared enough crab for everyone but because some had left early we enjoyed a surplus. I am pleased to report that we (especially the boys) took one for the team and stuffed ourselves silly. Let's just say I didn't eat dinner that night.

In the afternoon we spent almost three hours playing with the kids at the Children's Learning Centre and we played hard. We sang, we danced, we played a number of games and generally enjoyed each other's company. These kids aren't shy and like getting their pictures taken. I enjoyed the fact that they were as interested in us as we in them. They sang the alphabet for us and some showed off their surprisingly good English skills. We did our English rendition of Old MacDonald had a farm and they did their Khmer version. Who knew that pigs, dogs and chickens make different sounds in Cambodia? Ben what a hit with his guitar and enjoyed one of his most enthralled audiences to date (his words, not mine). Ben and I had a contest to see how many kids we could have hanging off of us at one time. We tied at 6 each. Kyle kept busy throwing the balls around and playing catch. Bobbi, Sherilyn and Shalen kept the kids entertained with group games. I can't remember what Tommy was up to, but my best guess is some sort of gymnastics. As I recall, there was an impromptu game of bowling using a water bottle and a ball. We formed a human pyramid – don't worry, the kids were on top. We gave tons of piggie back rides.

I found it interesting how well behaved these kids were. They were very interested in our things as well, like our sunglasses and cameras. Our items were passed around. Yet, they treated our things with respect and even if we didn't expect some things back, they all came back to us safe and sound. We had all brought a significant amount of donations but we were all wishing we had brought more. Note to self: next time bring more things to play with like soccer balls. It was also neat to see how the girls naturally tended to conglomerate with the ladies and the boys with the men. We were equally fascinated with one another. These hours were the highlight of my trip. Two boys in particular decided that I was theirs. From when we arrived until we left one or the other was literally stuck to me. Towards the end as we sang song, they were getting tired and were both falling asleep on my lap. As they nodded off it was so cute as they clambered and competed for my lap space. I felt really special and they didn't need to say a word. It warmed my heart. Thanks to these boys I have discovered in myself that someday I will be a Dad...I'll be ready. Thanks guys. Akun. As the bus left the entire school saw us of. We high-five'd. We waved. We blew kisses. There were eyes filled with tears.

In keeping with tradition, we made our way back to the hotel, cracked a few cold beers and watched the sunset, basking in the moment and reveling in what a great day we had.

Just when I though this day couldn't get any better, it did. Our group was privileged to be in Kep at the same time BAB in Cambodia was doing its strategic planning session with virtually all its staff and volunteers. BAB was kind enough to invite us to join them for dinner at a cozy and spacious beach side restaurant. There were probably 50 people or more present. BAB has volunteers from all around the world and we met people from Australia, Scotland and the US. Wow, these volunteers have it all: skills, generous spirits and good looks. There is something special going on here.

After dinner our group started some impromptu dancing which evolved into a full fledged party. We drank and danced and enjoyed some international group bonding on the dock. We cranked up some Queen, some Abba and some U2. By this time I still hadn't figured out exactly what our group itinerary was for the next day but I indulged again in a few hours of completely care free moments.

Some people went home relatively early and others welcomed in the morning. Earlier that evening I attached myself to an old dog who had evidently just become a mother. I am an animal lover so, unable to resist, I had to pet her, again tossing out the health nurse's recomendations. The dog welcomed my attention and she returned the favour. She and her doggie counterpart walked us stragglers home a far distance to the hotel. They weren't just following us – they had come to protect us, not a word of a lie. They walked us right to our doorstep and waking up the next morning, some participants must have wondered why there was a dog out their front door. This day was full of love. A little love it seems can go a long way.

This is my kind of travel.

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