Thursday, January 20, 2011

Being the Hero - Or Not

Cambodia Blog 11
January 20th 2011
Being the Hero - Or Not

What would you do?

The gap between what *would* I do, in my head, and what I *did* do, in reality, is an uncomfortably large one. Cambodia forces me to stare into this void far more often than I do in America, where we have a functional social safety net to keep us from looking our responsibility to one another in the face. So the question I pose in this blog is this: what do you do when you see someone who needs help, and have absolutely no idea how to help them? My dear reader, I do hope you will reply.

Today on my way home from dinner I passed one of the strangest and saddest things I have ever seen. Coming out of a nightclub/hotel parking lot was a large expensive car, the kind so popular with the pretentious rich here with ‘LEXUS’ scrawled across the sides. But the car was stopped halfway into the road. A woman blocked it’s exit, completely naked, the resigned desperation on her face lit by headlights of the thick cloud of traffic crawling by the scene.

She needed help. I don’t know why she was there, the only reasons I can guess at are horrific. But the reality was: she was naked in the middle of the street and no one was helping her. I had no idea what to do. When I got home I shoved a dress, a bathrobe and my leftover pizza in my bag and went running back. But, of course, she was gone. My chase to help had come and gone in the few shocked seconds after seeing her and realizing she needed help.

So what to do? In those seconds, do you get off the moto or out of the car or out of your way and try to help, even if you don’t know what to do? Do you collect your thoughts and come back too late? I know there is little I can do, with my resources and my experience, but I refuse to accept inaction. And yet still, I don’t know what to do.

What would you do? What should a decent, caring  person do when faced with immediate need? Thank you for your thoughts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

An extraordinary day

Cambodia Blog 10
An Exceptional Day
January 16th 2011

Hellu everyone!

I have been a bit tardy with the blogging, but I figured that today was such an incredible day I will ignore the backlog of things I have to write about (like our adventures in Thailand last week) and tell you about a more typical, but no less incredible, day in my life.

Today marked the first of my 6 day work week, something I am quite happy about. This day gives me a chance to tutor some of the kids who are struggling with school but too busy during the week, and I also have a chance to help out with homework. This morning Tim, Niamh, Kester (lovely new volunteer from England) and I all went in early and took two Tuktuk loads of kids (which is 12 by the way) to a playground near a beautiful temple. We all went into the temple and then tumbled around on the playground until the kids were exhausted. Back at NFC we broke out the paddling pool we bought for them for Christmas. I got to spend the afternoon teaching to the sounds of shrieking splashing delighted children, which was wonderful!

While we were waiting for Tim to finish teaching French Kester and Niamh and I took a rest in the library, which turned into reading books to the various children who wandered in, which rapidly turned into a tickle fight, which quickly became all out war. This was a war we did not win…. The three of us were soon barricaded in the library surrounded by small children doing (I kid you not) war chants. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever heard! We were completely overpowered, and held hostage in the library by half a dozen orphans half our size. Fortunately Tim came to our rescue and we all escaped with minimal casualties ;-)

I am writing this right before going out to eat some really really awesome extraordinarily cheep Indian food with my friends. I am completely in love: the children, this day, this country. I could never have imagined a life this good!

This is Ronika, our youngest. She is a terrifying fish.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2011!!! 11 'You're Not in Kansas Anymore' moments

You Know You're Not In America when...
January 4th, 2011
Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Happy New Year everyone! We celebrated by watching fireworks and dancing on the riverfront. It was a great way to bring in the New Year! I hope everyone else had a great night as well.

To celebrate the beginning of another great year, I shall provide you with a list of some of my favorite Dorthy moments from the trip so far. These are from Hong Kong, Brunei and Cambodia! Enjoy!

You know you’re not in America when:

  • The convince store sells ‘Instant Jellyfish’
  • A sign on the door reads ‘These Door Handles are Disinfected 8 times a day’.
  • The signs around the grocery store warn you to ‘Maintain safe distance from monkeys’
  • The airline cheerfully informs you that the country you are entering will execute you for drug smuggling. 
  • The favorite local delicacy involves no chewing. And it’s not a soup. 
  • The list of things it is illegal to bring across the border include ‘boutique sarongs’
  • The mall advertises it’self as the proud home of the country’s only McDonalds
  • The maximum occupancy of a motobike is five. 
  • A motobike is considered a logical means of transport for: mattresses (up to five at a time), chickens, pigs, large sheets of glass. 
  • Adult men sing ‘Baby’ by Justin Beiber with no apparent sense of shame.