I haven’t written a Blog in a long time. I stopped a couple of months ago when I found out that expatriates here in Cambodia were using the information inappropriately, and for the purpose of defaming me.
I’m back today however because of an experience I had this afternoon. I had heard about the horrible living conditions of people who are raising their families on the edges of the garbage dump.
After my college class ended this afternoon Bora (My Translator) took me to the Prag Tale Village and my breath was literally taken away. The housing was horrible and the surroundings just stunk.
I can’t even imagine existing in such a smell for more than a couple of minutes, let alone live there permanently.
The people were so wonderful and welcoming and they immediately identified themselves as “Christians” which almost makes me think that it was a strategy to raise the level of the foreigner’s (me) compassion. Regardless, it was clear that these people were living in very extreme poverty, the likes of which it is hard for me to describe.
I was given a warm welcome by the residents, and a tour of the place which for me was horrid.
I took a picture of one of the houses, and if you look up into the ceiling of this one house you can see the bamboo floor with the slits in it.
It was clear that my weight would not be supported in any way, climbing the ladder or standing on the floor of the house.
Inside the house there is no cooking equipment, no bathroom, and no shelter from the cold weather. I asked about the NGO (Non-government organization) that was based in the village and once again I was quite surprised. I was told that the NGO only helps children, and so the adults are on their own.
For me it was somewhat of an irony that four hours earlier, I was told by a St. Paul Cambodian friend that a man was trying to send me $500.00. Knowing that money was coming I told these people in the Prag Tale Village that I would buy them a bag of rice, fifteen blankets and twenty jackets in an effort to help tolerate the cold weather that we are having. The man you see in the group photo immediately called out to me “thank you, but please don’t give the items to the community chief.” I was told that gifts like mine in the past were first given to the commune chief and the items never got to the people.
That’s the definition of corruption. I know that the USA sends aid to Cambodia, but the money does not reach the people of poverty – ever. So the same thing was happening here in this small impoverished village.
The chief keeps the donations meant for the people.
I always want to help, but my money is limited, so knowing that a donor was about to surface gave me the opportunity to reach out and be helpful to these struggling people.