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.
Those living here are mostly Vietnamese and are somewhat marginalised by a lot of Cambodians. 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).
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..