Saturday, May 26, 2012

Khmer children, people, and places

Oh goodness I dont even know where to start writing when I begin a post. So much has been going on and it has been incredible! My mind is full of little stories and memories that I will keep forever.

First of all, I cant believe I am only here for three weeks, it is so sad. I am already growing attachments to the children and there are at least 4 that I honestly would like to adopt if I had a stable home. The kids are so silly and fun, I love being with them and they love being with me. Everyday they say, "Halloo!!!" and run up to hug me. I work in a very poor part of Cambodia, one of the poorest locations in the world. The orphanage is placed about a mile down a dusty road which is lined by shacks of sheet metal and wood for homes. The river is about 500 feet down a small cliff and during the rainy season the water rises so high that it floods the entire orphanage. The people suffice to traveling by boat rather than moto bikes or cars. It is a crazy thought.
The children are all in poor conditions. All of the girls are filled with lice. I am so paranoid about getting lice but I do not want to deny the children affection because of it. They always come up and hug or hold me so it is difficult. I just tie my hair up really tight and try to keep subtle distance from their heads. Though, I mostly work with boys so it is not too much of a problem. Most of the kids have rotting teeth and rarely can brush them. But they have the most genuine beautiful smiles in the world.
One of the little girls was left at their front gate at only a couple days old. It is very sad, but the children all love each other and they are so happy to play together. Though I also work with older boys, (13-19). I can see in them that they feel an empty spot in their heart and sometimes I see them dazing off with a sad face. My main focus is to ameliorate their experience by making them smile or laugh and practice English with me! I love all of the kids so much...they are so precious.
I cannot really feel my emotions while I am in the field. It is like my emotions are numb and then when I come home sometimes I get overwhelmed with their lifestyle and start crying. They are so, so poor. They eat random things off the street and are always...always barefoot. I like rubbing the little ones feet and playing "this piggy went to the market" with them...they love it! The placement is very dirty and you cannot be afraid to get dirty. I sweat all day, then I am covered in dust, and I have children hanging all over me for 8 hours, and there are bugs everywhere, so it is a very unclean environment. But it is mind over matter, I don't mind because I am there for the kids!
My days are split into two sections, in the morning I take care of the little ones. I play with them, take them to get washed up if they are dirty, comfort them if they are hurt and so on. In the afternoon I do two classes, one where I am the main teacher and I teach English for one hour, this class is for students around 7-13. Then in the afternoon I assist a Khmer teacher who teaches English to the older kids, 14-19. I provide them with the correct pronunciation of the words and will read out loud. One day I was teaching and a little girl came to me after class while I was grading homework and kissed me! It was so sweet. The little boys love teasing me and playing jokes on is really funny. But they told one of the Khmer teachers I pronounce their names very well in the Khmer pronunciation, so that made me feel good! (Mind you, none of the children I work with know English)

I almost resent writing about the orphanage because my words don't do justice for the reality of the situation. It is just an experience that one must see and feel.

Anyways! I can not find regular soap to save my life here..
All Cambodians want to be WHITE just like Americans want to be TAN! It is crazy! All of the soap has labels that say, "Extra white glow" "Become more white" "Beautifully white"and so on!!! It is so frustrating! So I subjected to buying baby soap...hey whatever works right!?

I somehow forgot my headache was the most important thing on my packing list and somehow it is not in my bag. So I went to the pharmacy the other day and asked the doctor for something for headache..he asked me if it was a strong headache and I said yes. Then he came back with codeine...I was like this is for serious pain like after surgery, I am not taking this! Haha! So he ended up giving me another one but I just thought it was crazy that you could sell codeine over the counter.

The men here think white women are crazy beautiful. I had a man stop me and ask if I am married and he tried to get my phone number. He was dead serious too, like not laughing or anything. Then last night a guy came up to mean and said something in Khmer. He said, "You know what that mean? It mean I love you!" Haha they are so funny...but I never wear makeup here and I am always soaking in sweat and they still try to hit on you!

I have become much more relaxed here, in the morning my guesthouse lights incense and they house is all open so it flows throughout the house, it is so comforting. I also have finally been hungry and enjoying food! But not really traditional Khmer food...just basic things like chicken curry. I have the most amazing breakfast in the mornings, it is a fruit plate with bananas, watermelon, dragon fruit, pineapple, mangos, and some kind of apple thing. The mangos literally melt on your tongue it is amazing!!!!

Yesterday we decided to go to Siem Reap to see the temples. It was a 6 hour bus ride, there were no highways or anything, all back roads and it was soooo bumpy! The bathroom was a 3 foot door with 2 buckets...
We had no time to eat breakfast or lunch because we were rushing so we were surviving off of oreos and chips, it was terrible. The temples closed at 6 and we got there at 3 so we only had 3 hours.
They are the most AMAZING temples in the world! Oh my gosh they are so intricate and beautiful! I was so in love...and it was raining so we were all drenched in sweat and rain. It was crazy. Afterwards we went out to the most western style restaurant ever and ate burgers and pasta. We are such cheaters...

Anyway, I am heading back on the bus to Phnom Penh soon. Watch my facebook for pictures..some are amazing!


  1. My heart flutters with anticipation and emotion clinging to every word and each emotion you feel. I am so glad you are adjusting. Love you.

  2. Thank you Becky! I love and miss you!

    P.S...I never edit my writing and I just realized there are so many mistakes! haha oh well