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Day 16 - Last Night in Prahos Kbal

Monday, July 22, 2013

semi-overcast

Just a bit tough getting up this am. Went to bathroom around 2:00 am and then had trouble to fall asleep. Had another strange dream. Dreamt I had to go to the RBC to meet with a bank lady. Not sure what for but I knew it was the main branch where a cousin works. After meeting with the lady I was told to feel free to go to the staff cafeteria and I could order a sandwich to go. I ordered a sandwich with five different types of mustard and was warned that it would be quite strong. I then went to one of the many beds that they had for staff to have a nap on. All the beds were king sized. I remember that there were other people in the bed sleeping next to me and on my right was someone that I knew was Cambodian but didn't recognize the face. I then woke up and my clothes were all missing. Strange dream. Methinks it could be side affect from the malaria pills. Also my clothes were not work clothes but a red dress that I wear to work. Sure hope it is related to medication. I am not the only one having vivid dreams. My only other explanation is paint fumes or Raid fumes.

I have also had quite the rash on my stomach and back and on my sides. Not really itchy and likely some sort of heat rash or reaction to all the Muskol, Off and other bug spray we have been using. Not related to food. There is also one from Cambodia which is Lemongrass Oil but I have been teased that it just attracts the bugs. The Lemongrass Oil does have a soothing effect when you have bites and are itchy. It stings right after you spray it on you and then it feels better. I have also used some citronella patches which I think help but am not certain. I have been eaten alive by mosquitos since arriving, I have also received a lot of ant bites, including red ants (They really really hurt and the ant that caused this pain, no longer causes pain for anyone.)

I felt much better today and went to have breakfast with the others. We were going to be painting the back of the school today. It was a deeper orange while wet that turned a pale peach when dry. We made great progress and the outside walls of the school were pretty much done by lunchtime.

We had already finished up with lunch and a few of us were still sitting in the dining room when we heard crying outside. Around here there is not much crying and mostly laughter which is a good thing. My favourite little boy, Biu who is about 3 years old was on the ground crying in the playground. I went over to get him and brushed the dirt off his back, face and little body. He let me carry him and I brought him into the dining room and wiped his nose and face off. I fed him some grapes which made him very happy. Who wouldn't be happy. I peeled of the skin, took out the seeds and put little pieces in his mouth. (Sorry Clark, but you aren't the only male here that I will feed. Ha ha.) Vi soon starting playing with him and he was happy and giggily. He doesn't speak a lot and doesn't seem to smile too often. Rainbow asked him in Khmer if he wanted more grapes and each time he answered so it was nice to hear his little voice. Clark helped to clean off his face again as well.

The children here get and stay very dirty. The playground is dirt. The rain compacts it for a bit and then the heat makes it all dusty again. All the roads are dirt. It is understandable how disease could get you easily. On the playground are children who generally wear flip flops or some type of sandal, they walk in the muddy water, drop their garbage wherever they are standing and chickens and dogs roam freely as do the cows and water buffalo. You can be looking at one short stretch of road and in that space are people, dogs, water buffalo, cows and chickens. Man and animals live together in unison. I can more than understand why I cannot donate blood for a year after this trip.

While we were with Biu in the dining room, Lily and Linda were tending to some of the children who had some open wounds on their legs. On one of the little girls Lily saw a worm come out of a wound on her leg. They reported this to Rainbow and later Ron took the little girl to the local clinic and a doctor treated the wound. Surprisingly the wound was not covered up when she returned. It is nothing short of a miracle that all these children have made it to the age that they are as many die before the age of 5 from disease.

We also found out today that our cook Ron's husband has been sick for a long time with stomach cancer and is at home and cannot work. Ron supports three daughters by selling snacks to the schoolchildren, cooking for us and other jobs. The youngest daughter is maybe around 4 years old. We have been most fortunate to have had her for a cook since we have been here as the food is really good. She does a great job with vegetables. Usually two vegetable dishes per meal with some meat mixed in and generally there has been variety. Also french fries sometimes and really dense potatoes which we dip in a mix of salt, pepper, msg and lime. Can you say yum. I have to admit that I have been getting tired of the same baguette and scrambled egg for breakfast. I do really appreciate that we have had peanut butter which is a treat. I have eaten more white bread in the past three weeks than I have in a two years. Don't get me wrong I do love bread but not this much and I am used to whole wheat and whole grain. Sprouted bread. Ditto for white rice as I eat brown rice except for sushi when I can't get it. Food in Pursat is good but not a lot of variety it seems. After almost three weeks I long for food back home. Haven't had much curry here which I thought we would get more of. Yogurt, salad, veggie juices, cottage cheese, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potato, cereal, wraps, and most of all sushi.

After lunch we finished up and then were doing some painting in one of the classrooms. It was difficult to paint as the paint we were using was some type of white powder mixed with water. The powder may have been either plaster or chalk. It was quite thin and ended up looking very grey as it went onto the walls. It has yet to dry so we don't yet know the end result.

By the way I just got a whiff of myself and it's not pretty. Stinky is the norm around here. I don't think that we are at the point that we are stinky to each other fortunately. Another fortunate thing is no mirrors on the walls otherwise we might actually gasp a bit. Hair for the women is tied up in some sort of bun due to the heat and necessity when doing work. We all really enjoyed the luxury of showering at the hotel in Siem Reap on the weekend. Washed my hair twice while we were there. I am going to have a shower shortly. It has already started that one of our team is going in. I don't think anyone showered yesterday as we were feeling fresh from showers yesterday am from the hotel.

It was warm this am but not too hot. We had a rainshower for about 30 minutes or so early in the afternoon and that really helped to cool the temperature down. Some of the team enjoyed the rain and some of the children ran into the rain as well. It is refreshing and a relief when it happens.

Earlier today Piep arrived with Pang and they brought lots of supplies for tomorrow. Huge bottles of soda pop, plastic cups and styrofoam containers. Tomorrow we are having a large lunch for the village to say goodbye to them all. Another thing we are doing is all contributing to the purchase of a sugar cane press for Ron so that she can start a side business selling sugar cane juice. This is a dream of hers to be able to have this business. It might have taken her years to save up for the press. We wanted to be able to do something nice for her and the decision had been made a few days ago, well before we knew of her husband's cancer. We are all happy that we are doing this as we are all very fond of her three daughters and this helps to give them a better future.

How is it that some people are born into wealth or become so wealthy that they live a decadent lifestyle while others struggle in life so much to achieve just day to day survival? I am so fortunate to have the life I have even though I have had my struggles as a single parent. I have not forgotten what it was like when money was really tight and even then there was always food, shelter and clothing.

We have been hit by another rainstorm and it is pouring big time at just before 4 pm. The trees are blowing and it is windy out. You could believe that you are currently in Vancouver by looking outside right now. Everyone is still taking their showers despite the rain as we still need to get clean. Tomorrow will be our last day in the village and a non-working day. We will be helping to prepare lunch for all those in the village that can make it. It will be fun and just a bit sad I think.

We have dinner and then look at some of the photographs on my netbook (thanks for much Jer for lending it to me. It has been awesome!) that Linda and I have taken. It brings back so many memories of all that we have done and how we have all changed so much since our arrival.

We find out that we will be getting up at 5:00 am tomorrow as we have a lot of vegetables and other preparations for the lunch that the village has been invited to. We are expecting 200 guests.

We have a surprise as seven people from one family come to visit us. One of the daughters kindly teaches us some Khmer words as her English is more extensive than anyone we have met so far other than Piep or Leah. It's too bad we are only meeting them now. We spend time talking outside and getting to know each other. Viola gives each of us a glow in the dark bracelet which makes everyone happy and silly. They ask if anyone can sing and Kailey treats us to a few songs. Lily sings the chorus from a Fun song and Clark is coaxed into singing Leaving on a Jet Plane with a little help Iwith his new friends, us. Linda impresses all of us with her command of numbers in Khmer. How fine a CA will she be! Just for fun we sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The daughter that speaks English sings a lovely song in Khmer and later her mother and another sibling also sing a song.

Before we know it, it is time for bed as the dawn will be an early one.

Posted by Sydney324 07.24.2013 16:34 Archived in Cambodia Tagged children cambodia village poverty prahos kbal

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