One Blog…….One Year On

I have been writing this blog for one year now and have been amazed by the response that it has had. I decided to do it really just to inform people back home ( mostly on the Isle of Wight ) of what life is like here in Phnom Penh and in Cambodia. Nothing could have prepared me for the things that I have seen and the way in which people live their lives….but I have been so blessed to be able to help some , in some small way, and to get to know so many friends out here.DSCN3476

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is also one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has an appalling record on Human Rights. For many people here there is little hope and they just survive from day to day….nothing more. P1050300The people here have a completely different mindset to that of those of us who live or come from the western world. To see how people live in the slums out here ( there is no word for slum in the Cambodian language ) is something that all should see as they will realise how fortunate most of us are just to have a roof over our heads.There really can’t be many more desperate countries in the whole world although I know that some( North Korea ) are worse off, and others as well. But what never ceases to amaze me is how content and happy the people here are. Ask anyone who lives or works here, or has visited this wonderful country.I know many people and families who live in slums here but they are such loving generous people, they will always make you feel welcome and appreciate any help that is given to them. They are born into poverty, they do not choose it and most just want to work and provide for themselves and their families……but therein lies the bigger issue. Many have not received a good education,if any, and therefore cannot read or write to enable them to get a good job. P1010233Manual work is available here but the wages are low and often the working conditions certainly on the building sites are dangerous. Many women work on the building sites and have their children with them all day. I have watched them build a four story block of flats behind my house with the children running about on the third floor…and with nothing to stop them falling over the edge. The women work hard doing the carrying, the lifting and shoveling…all this when they are pregnant as well.

There are many other things that I could tell you about what I have seen and learnt..but I may well bore you…the traffic accidents, the day to day struggles of those who live in the slums and those that I work with, the unwillingness of some to help, the injustice that goes on in this country. I have looked back over my previous blogs and find that there is so much that has had an impact on me over the last year..the friends, the tragedies, the fun, the frustrations….but then that is life sometimes and we must always move on, never fall back.

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So….I don’t want to change the world ( who sang that ?) but I want to change people’s lives and to show them Hope in this fallen world……If you would like to know more about the situations that people face out here then please get in touch, or if you would like to see it first hand then again get in touch and I can accommodate you……it will change your life. One blog..one year on…and one changed life.

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Happy Sundays

Q: So how do you get 70 Cambodians into 6 tuk tuks and a car….? A: Ask them if they want to go to church. That is what happened last Sunday when the church was privileged to be joined by these 70 or so inhabitants from one of the many slums here in Phnom Penh..

Only one tuk tuk but more to follow

Only one tuk tuk but more to follow

P1050140P1050147           ..and it was fun.Not sure how many would want to come the first tuk tuk arrived by itself and was full  in just 3 seconds. It left with 17 passengers…. Another 5 tuk tuks were ordered and the Pastor brought his car as well.

Breakfast before they go into church..!!

Breakfast before they go into church..!!

P1050153As a church we moved into a new, bigger building about a month ago and it was good to see it filling up so soon afterwards.P1050167

Om the way to Sunday School

On the way to Sunday School

The Sunday School was a lot busier than usual and I think organised chaos reigned, but the children had a lot of fun.P1050183 These people probably need a church in their own village but in the meantime it is a lot of fun having them with us on a Sunday morning and some of us continue the fellowship with them in the afternoon…..

Toothbrush and toothpaste donated and given out by a good friend out here Toothbrush and toothpaste donated by a good friend out here.

Homeward bound  Homeward bound

..don't drop the baby..!  Don’t drop the baby….!

Delivery service..and one around the corner. Taxi Tuk Tuk service…and one more around the corner !

 

 

Giving Rice, Shelter And Making Friends

So the village was flooded and help was needed. Well not so much help as basic needs – food and shelter. People did not have food to eat and many certainly didn’t have sufficient shelter….Can you believe that people do not have enough food to eat in this country and in this day and age ?

So for the last few Sundays a few of us have been visiting and giving rice to the hungry and tarpaulins for shelter to those who need them…which are many. The rice is bought from a supplier and put into 2kg bags ( nearly 500 bags have been given out ) .

Rice is weighed into 2 kg bags

Rice is weighed into 2 kg bags

Ten bags into a big bag

Ten bags into a big bag

Rice and tarpaulins are put into a tuk tuk

Rice and tarpaulins are put into a tuk tuk

It is then, like everything here, put into a tuk tuk, along with the tarpaulins for shelter, to be transported to the slum which is about two miles away. When we arrive we then put it all into boats to take it to those who need it. The first boat will give rice to those whose houses are flooded along the way. It probably takes about 10 minutes to get to the end of the flooding where we off load and then distribute the rest of the rice and tarpaulins.

Coming in to dock

Coming in to dock

It is nice to be welcomed but at the same time you realise what a sorry government this country has that would leave its people to starve and offer no help to these lovely people. But anyway that is why we are here….to give something back to those who are unable to help themselves.

The supplies given were nowhere near enough..we just didn’t have the money, but they did make a difference…and we had fun. We all made new friends and will go back again next weekend to give what we can and help where we can. It is becoming part of our weekly routine and something we all look forward to.

We named this lady Eve. She stood under a tree with a few branches and a few more leaves and joked   that this was her home....it was no joke.

We named this lady Eve. She stood under a tree with a few branches and a few more leaves and joked that this was her home….it was no joke.

Eager crowds gather for food and shelter

Eager crowds gather for food and shelter

..and they STILL keep smiling..

..and they STILL keep smiling..

Again it is with great thanks to a generous donation from someone back home on the Isle of Wight that has made most of this possible. They have enabled us to give rice, shelter …..and make a few friends along the way.

Giving Hope, Opportunity And A Future……

…all this for just £56. That is how much it can take to change someone’s life and again it is due to the generosity of one person back home who has given money to help those who are desperately poor here in Cambodia.P1030983

This money will pay for Poen’s education for two years in a state school. Her family are incredibly poor due to no fault of their own. She is 18 years old. They do not live in good conditions but  Poen and her mother work extremely hard to get by…that is all that they do, they survive one week till the next. They are good, honest and hardworking people, like most in this world….. but have been given a bum deal. They shut up and get on with it. They do not moan or get angry. They are very gentle and humble…and teach me a lot about tolerance and acceptance.

Poen has not been able to go to school for the last year as her family have not been able to afford it. Instead she has been looking for work to earn a bit of money to help herself and her family.With the money donated Poen can get a good education and go on to better herself in life…just as we all have the opportunity to do in most of the Western World.

There are thousands like her here in Cambodia who just need a little help and support to be given a chance of Hope, Opportunity and A Future….

Had A Bad Day ?

…yes we all get them. But at the moment there are a few hundred people who live in one of the slums in the south of Phnom Penh who are having a lot of them due to the flooding in their “village”. It still continues to rain and there is no government aid, help or assistance for these people. They rely on the help of NGO’s and churches in their daily plight.

Have a look at the pictures as I think they speak for themselves. I find it hard to comprehend how much they are just accepting of the situation and are still able to smile through it all…

10 kilo's of rice for about £3.50. Cheap but still never enough to go round...

10 kilo’s of rice for about £3.50. Cheap but still never enough to go round…

P1030634The flooding is an opportunity for some to make money with their boat taxis and provide a much needed service to those who are literally stranded.P1030544P1030547P1030548P1030552P1030555P1030556P1030558P1030563P1030565P1030569

Look what I found..

Look what I found..

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This is as high as the water got.

This is as high as the water got.

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The water is very deep in places and children have to be so careful.....

The water is very deep in places and children have to be so careful…..

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The water is incredibly dirty and will carry all sorts of diseases and unwelcome inhabitants.

The water is incredibly dirty and will carry all sorts of diseases and unwelcome inhabitants.

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..but they still keep smiling!

..but they still keep smiling!

 

Weathering The Storm

£5.50 can make a tremendous amount of difference to peoples lives. As you can see from the pictures this house needs a bit of maintenance.P1030251  P1030253P1030252

It maybe does not look too bad but the holes let the water in when it rains, and the water goes straight on to the bed that is right next to the wall. With this slum house not having too much space there is nowhere to move the bed that the three occupants all use together.P1030258  P1030257

So using some of the money that has been given anonymously I felt that this was a good use of just over a fiver.In the space of just a few minutes the house was water tight and the occupants happy. Five minutes after leaving it started to rain so the tarpaulin was soon put to use. I just hope that they don’t do what others do who have been given this material to protect their homes…and that is sell it…….Don’t worry I will keep my eye on it.P1030261

Faces Of Cambodia….Part 2

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Transition

This weekend is one of the most important in recent years for the people, and the future ,of Cambodia. After the election in July the official results are due to be announced on Sunday after the original results were contested by the opposition party. The election was rigged-there is no doubt about that- and a big rally is planned for this Saturday morning by the opposition party.

Independence Monument

Independence Monument

The government has brought in thousands of police and troops and they have been practicing “crowd control tactics” this week. It is thought that many thousands will attend the rally which will be one of the biggest protests in Cambodia’s history.All foreigners have been advised to stay well clear. It is going to be an extremely tense two days…let’s hope and pray that it all passes peacefully and that democracy reigns….and is seen to reign.

Buster Gets His Uniform

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When Buster started school last week they did not have a uniform to fit him. So it was with great pleasure that his mother told me on Wednesday that they now had a suitable size available for him. With his new schoolbag I think he is probably the keenest student in Cambodia and is ready for school well before time every day…and thoroughly enjoys it!

Off to school...

Buster Goes To School

When I went home in June of this year I was given some money by some people/organisations to put to good use for those in need in Cambodia…of which there are many. Some of the money has specific requests and other monies donated don’t.P1010634

It has and is an absolute pleasure to be able to put this money to good use and it will take time before it is all spent. The first lot of money that was used has been put towards sending a young lad to school and was donated by the Kidszone of Castlehold Baptist Church. All schooling in Cambodia should be free but for even the poorest there can be fees and payments involved.

Buster is nine years old and has never been to school. He lives opposite to my house.

Home for Buster and his family Busters house..

P1010642His parents make a living by making concrete tiles,pipes and bases etc. They will start work at maybe 5.30 in the morning, sometimes earlier and will wok until maybe 6.00 in the evening or even later.P1010645The work is physical and hard, but they are tough ,yet gentle people. To mix the cement they do not have a mixer but do it all by hand. One big pile of sand,two bags of cement and six buckets of water from the pond nearby-I have watched and counted. Even in the cooler part of the day the temperature is in the 30’s,yet in speaking to them (through a translator) they never moan or begrudge the life they have.They are very content and happy people.

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This morning we went to the school to get him registered and to have a look around. He was able to start that afternoon.

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Buster will go to school five afternoons a week. As he has never been to school before not only can he not read or write,he can barley hold a pen. Hopefully this can be the beginning of a new life for him and the chance to make new friends.P1010625  P1010630P1010632  P1010623

To send Buster to a State school would have cost a lot less but the classes can hold up to 50 children and the standard of education is not as good. At his school there are no more than twenty in a class. The whole cost of a years schooling including books,pens and uniform ,at what is one of the better schools in Phnom Penh is about £150. Thank you again for your donation Kidszone and for giving one young lad a better chance in life. Oh, his name is not really Buster but Nou. Buster just sort of suits him..P1010650