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Saying Goodbyes….

So I will be returning home soon( 24th June) to a country far removed from Cambodia. With only a few days left it is time to start saying my goodbyes so I went to visit a few people yesterday that I have had the privilege of meeting in my 2 years here.

My former employer (Waitrose ) were generous enough to give me a sum of money to use for whatever needs I thought necessary out here. I was able to sponsor some children that went to one of the local schools along with an individual donation for one of them. It was only a small sum each week but enough to make a difference as although schooling should be free in Cambodia there are still monies that need to be paid for a child to attend.

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This is where Srey Mey lives with her mother and two sisters ( her older sister has moved away to work in a garment factory so she can earn money for the family. She stopped going to school to do this.) Although this is their house they sleep on the floor of their neighbors house as their own is not well protected against the rain….as well as being too small for four of them to sleep in.

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This is Petra’s mother. She works selling vegetables 7 days a week making maybe $4 a day. Her husband had a moto accident some years ago and has a metal plate in his leg so cannot work. The money given to her daughter each week is invaluable to them.

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Some of the money was put towards painting the local school and supplying it with a few plants. This probably sounds a bit boring to many but I cannot tell you how pleased the whole school was with this gift, that is the Headmistress , teachers, and pupils who painted it themselves.

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Tari, the school Headmistress

Tari, the school Headmistress

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Probably the best looking government school in Cambodia..!

P.S. I have been able to give a sum of money to Srey Meys family so that they can build a new, bigger and more suitable house. Thank you to those who donated, I will show pictures of the new home when it is completed.

10% and 90%

“….I am convinced that life is 10%  what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  Charles R Swindoll

I just love this quote. I first heard it some years ago before I came to Cambodia and after living here for nearly eighteen months I have seen that many Cambodians live this out-they probably have never even heard this quote before-but they are the epitome of it.P1050686 P1050715

Born into poverty and destitution they have no choice but to work for a living and they will take whatever work is on offer. It is not their fault that they have been born into this way of life but it is their reaction to this that is amazing. Every day I see young children begging at the traffic junctions, people collecting rubbish with their own children sitting in the rubbish carts-today I saw a man with crutches pushing his cart with his young son sitting inside it…just another day in Phnom Penh. They never moan, they just survive as that is all they can do.P1050321

Yet they are such an inspiration. They will often smile at you and genuinely appreciate anything that is given to them. Many work at night collecting the rubbish as it is cooler-they have lamps on their heads so they can see what they are looking for…and also to spot the rats. It is no surprise that Cambodia was recently voted the friendliest country in the world by Rough Guides….that is quite an achievement out of nearly 200 different countries on this planet.P1050263

So Cambodia is proof that you can overcome adversity if you have the right attitude…..this does not mean that the people are just tolerant of their lives, it shows that they are among the most beautiful people in the world….because they have shown that what has happened to their country in the past will not hang over them and they will apply themselves as they only know how ……to never bloody give up.

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Building a future………..                                      ……..for a better past.

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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Faces Of Cambodia….Part 2

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Newsletter No 5

5th Newsletter for blog

Just A Few Facts….

..and figures from this dusty but pleasant land.

*In 2012 there were 553,000 orphans-about 9% of all children

*71% of households live below the poverty line

*41% of the population are under the age of 18

*40% of children have stunted growth due to poor nutrition

*75,000 people are HIV positive

*63,500 people have been injured or killed by landmines since 1979 and there have been more than 25,000 amputees

*It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 prostitutes in Phnom Penh alone; of which one third are under the age of 18 and many are the victims of trafficking

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The Worst So Far

In my short time here in Cambodia I have seen a few things that I would not have seen in back home in England. Working in the slums here certainly opens your eyes as to how many people live and cope with life. The other day I visited the worst slum that I have seen so far. So what makes the worst slum? Surely when you have nothing, then you have nothing. It is not the small narrow roads or paths or the fact that this particular slum is very.. compact-there are a lot of people living in a small space. It is not the fact that it is maybe a bit more out of the way than most of the slums that we work with. It is the fact that it is in a graveyard. It is a Chinese graveyard and bodies were still being buried here until a few years ago.DSCN2534

Those living here are mostly Vietnamese and are somewhat marginalised by a lot of Cambodians.DSCN2535 When we visited the other day they said that many of them have lived here for 10 years at least and for the first two years they could not adapt to living in such a place as they were frightened by the spirits that lived there as well…They also spoke about how they just wanted to work, and earn some money and improve their lives (they couldn’t get much worse).DSCN2526DSCN2528

You come away from such places wondering what hope there is for these people-you really cannot see things changing for them but they just do not give up,they are amazingly optimistic and always pleased to see you. They will give you a seat and get you a drink and maybe something to eat. These people have such resolve when you think that many of us in the west would have just given up years ago-because we couldn’t cope..DSCN2534DSCN2532DSCN2533DSCN2530

I don’t know what the answer is to helping these people as they cannot help themselves and many others in this city will not help them. God only knows…DSCN2525

Faces Of Cambodia…..Part 1

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