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Day 5 - First Work Day in Prahos Kbal

Thursday, July 11, 2013

sunny 30 °C

Today is Thursday, July 11th.

Last night we went to bed quite early, 9 pm and we were all in bed with lights out. Seven women and one lucky man. Everyone was tired and we hadn't even started working yet. Around 3:45 in the morning I couldn't take it anymore and I had to go to the bathroom. It was like camping but different. We didn't know this before the trip but we were told earlier in the day that four policemen would be posted outside our room through the night. Two on each side of the door. They were in hammocks that were completely closed in with mosquito netting. This was definitely reassuring to have the security. We even had the village Chief of Police guarding us. Later we learned that this is standard on the HOPE Union team trips.

Some of the dogs who live in the village resemble dingos and some have German Shepherd in them. They were mostly quiet during the day and often quite lethargic. They would be sprawled on the dirt or ground asleep. They also spent time in an open thatched hut and it was their place. But at night things were quite different. They howled and often times you could hear what sounded like vicious fighting. During the day the dogs almost never barked and often sounded like a horse neighing when they did make a sound.

So lying in bed, everyone was asleep or so I thought and I had to go pee. Too much water during the day but you had to in order to stay hydrated. A real catch 22. The scary sounds of the dogs, the security of knowing the policemen were posted should anything come up and the bathroom was so far away, but not really, it was only because it was dark. I didn't dare lay on my stomach. No way did I want to pee my bed but I really really had to go. Although we had all made deals to wake each other up if we had to go in the night I didn't want to disturb anyone. So I did the next best thing. Turned on my headlamp and if someone was awake they would be sure to speak up. Linda, I, Vi and Kailey went to the facilities.

Back to bed and I fell back asleep and didn't wake again until shortly after 6 am. We had been in Cambodia now for 4 days and I finally had a really good sleep.

We all woke up around this time and started to get moving. The villagers awoke very early as you could already hear the staff talking about an hour or more before we woke up. Children were in the playground playing.

We had breakfast of baguettes, scrambled eggs, peanut butter and nutella. We also had a variety of tropical fruits as well. A great start to our day.

After breakfast we rested for a short time and then the real work began. We started off with carrying baskets loaded with sand to fill the sidewalk surrounding the school. As there were others helping this didn't take too long. After the sand was all poured, we went to get buckets of water to pour onto the sand. This was when something spectacular happened. The children came to help. No one had to ask or show them. They took charge, filled the buckets with water and two little ones would carry one bucket. Sometimes there would be a child helping to carry two buckets, one on each side. Prior to this we were using well water and then it was decided that we should just use the water from the stream that ran to the side of the schoolhouse. One child walked right into the water and the other children started to hand him buckets. I ended up helping a very little boy carry a bucket and the happiness of doing this task was evident in his face. Another little boy left on his bicycle to go home to fetch a bucket as he saw that we did not have enough buckets.

The children worked with an eagnerness to please and help. Smiles on their faces. The sense of community here is amazing. This is what we are so missing in the developed world. I don't feel sorry for these children in Cambodia. I actually feel sorry for the children in Canada. The children here in Cambodia are currently living the childhood that I had when I was young, some forty years ago. How sad that children do not play outside as much and how sad that the simple games, of jump rope, tag, playing with rocks and sticks are all but forgotten. There is nothing but joy in the children's faces here. They don't know anything else and they have each other, their families and life is good.

After we finished with getting water poured on the sand, the really tough job began. We started to break up cement and rock which was in the middle of the ground. We needed to break this up into pieces as it would eventually become smaller rocks and would be fill for the foundation. We worked on all of this for about 3 hours or so.

Lunch was two vegetable dishes, one vegetarian and the other was green pepper with beef. White rice and dessert was a nice assortment of fruit. After lunch we decided that we would rest for at least 1/2 an hour before going back to work. I went to lay down as I actually felt sleepy. I slept for about an hour and felt better. All the energy I used from breaking up the rock with the mallet and axe made me tired.

We continued breaking up more rock and by this time the sun was really really hot. I felt like I was in a hot yoga class for 2 hours. The sweat poured off my face and this was with me wearing a bandana and a hat with flaps on the side and back with a large brim to keep out the sun.

Earlier in the day we took most of the school supplies that I obtained from my cousin Elaine and brought them to the Khmer teacher in her classroom. It was a real treat for us to do this. Lee's husband acted as translator. We showed the teacher and the children some of the things that we had brought and I had the pleasure of teaching the children how to read Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and then do Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes. This was like a kindergarten class. I could have cried I was so very happy. Didn't want to scare the children by crying but it was definitely one of the many highlights to an amazing day.

Sometime mid-afternoon when the temperature was just under 30 degrees it was time to do laundry. Linda, my surrogate daughter and I went to do laundry by the well. To do laundry, we would pump water from the well into a large round metal bowl and then carry the bowl a short distance from the well to a brick platform on which we did our laundry. Add soap and it was washing time. I don't know about the others but it wasn't as much of a shock for me as I still do hand washing and have for many years. This was just on a larger scale as I had two loads of laundry. With the heat, slathering of sunscreen, spraying of bug spray and working in dirt, you end up changing clothes daily.

A storm was coming as we could hear thunder off in the distance for some time. The sky was getting darker and eventually there was a downpour. During this time we were happily walking around in the rain and went to play with the children. Chain tag and lots of giggling, running and laughing. Lots of fun. We did London Bridge, a limbo with a skipping rope and then the kids jump rope with a longer skipping rope. We had a row of three children at the start. The children were also playing with the soccer balls earlier in the day as well as volleyball and with the frisbees from yesterday.

We spoke to a lot of the children and all had Khmer names. Only one little boy wearing a soccer t shirt with Beckham on the back told us his name was David. Made you smile. We know who he likes.

A little girl gave me a drawing and I was most touched by this. Too sweet.

Also I was about 5 feet from a couple of water buffalo and happily took their photos. How cool is that. Interesting fact we were told is that it costs $600 to purchase one water buffalo and an additional $400 for vaccinations. Without a water buffalo you could plow your fields. It is a lot of money for a family.

The children soon went home and we just hung out talking, all taking turns to go get our bucket shower and wait for dinner.

Dinner was a stir fry of cauliflower and beef and fried fish. Dessert was yummy tropical fruit again.

After dinner we played a fun game called Celebrities that Kailey introduced us to. We all had a great time with lots of laughing and then it was off to our communal sleeping room just after 7 pm. Life in the village is pretty much rise with the sun and go to bed not too long after it sets.

Tonite after dinner we saw a firefly and in the dark you can hear frogs amongst the howling of the dogs. We are practically in the jungle I guess.

So I have just finished typing this blog as well as trying to finish my others from prior days. There was a bug of some sort on my computer screen. It was cleaning its antenae and it wasn't bothering me. I was actually enjoying checking out this bug. It was now time to log off though and I gently flicked the bug off my screen. His butt lit up. It was a firefly. How amazingly cool is this that I get to see a firefly up close. The firefly later landed on my finger and his butt lit up again before he flew of. Too special. I am a very content woman today. Life doesn't get more perfect than this.

Posted by Sydney324 07:57 Archived in Cambodia Tagged children cambodia storm hope

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