27 April, 2013

sitting and thinking...

Sitting in Phnom Penh in my favorite Coffee Shop Nom Café.  It’s such a peaceful place with good (quiet) background music, great coffee and the worlds best French Toast.  I always feel inspired to write in this café.  I don’t know what it is, but wish I could duplicate the ambiance or energy in my bedroom at Wat Opot….sigh.

I am an emotional person.  Walking around Phnom Penh, I see things and people which make me smile, but also tear up.  On the way to PP with 2 volunteers, we stopped at the Killing Fields, which is on the way, so one of the volunteers could visit it.  I went inside the grounds to use the toilet.  It’s interesting how I was able to just walk right in past the ticket stand as if I knew what I was doing.  No one stopped me to get an entrance fee or to ask me for my ticket.  It was as if I was invisible.  Only when I asked someone as to the whereabouts of the toilets was I acknowledged.

As I walked I passed some of the sights and was immediately overwhelmed by the energy of the place.  Sadness overwhelmed me as I quickly walked towards my destination.  I had been there before in 2010 and although it’s beneficial to learn a country’s history, it’s also advantageous to learn and then move on.  One of our boys living in Phnom said to me that he is so tired of his government, as well as his Khmer elders and peers, using the Khmer Rouge as an excuse for the country’s current problems.  He said they need to get over it already and move on.

Forgive but not forget is a mantra most people cannot deal with.  If I lived with every wrong I consciously or inadvertently committed against others or held all the wrongs (intentional or perceived)  committed against me in my heart or head, I would be a basket case and unable to love myself and others unconditionally.   Grant it there are people I do not care for -my life would not be affected in any way if I never saw their face or heard their voice again– but if it happens, I would survive and life would go on without any regrets.  Over time, I have forgiven myself.  I have forgiven others.  I have learned to turn away from hatred and stupidity aimed at a race, culture, religion, etc.  Someone I have since blocked on FB typed to me once saying that I should not delete a response when a person says something I do not like or believe in.  My reply was "yes, I should and will, especially if it is written on my internet wall".  I love my delete button and probably have more FaceBook "friends" hidden than those who are are not.  I do not feel any remorse whatsoever for not being privy to their daily rantings showing their ignorance and racism and all around negativity.  

That’s not to say I no longer care what is going on in the world; on the contrary, I care deeply, possibly a little too deeply, but if I internalized all the shit that is going on (especially in the country of my birth) then I would walk around banging my head on a wall babbling like an idiot.  I would carry the negativity with me and in turn expel it to those around me. This link pretty much sums up my thoughts about so many things.  Yes, it’s vulgar, but sometimes there is not a better way to describe an incident than to use a curse word –really just try to blurt out the word ‘sunshine’ or ‘pink roses’ the next time something makes you angry –it doesn’t work, trust me.

Why do I relate with the above link?  Maybe it’s because I am missing the three little brothers who are visiting their mother.  Once their father gets out of prison, they will move back in with them. Loving functioning families should stay together.  Maybe I am also sad that the little 4 month old who we had for only 2 weeks is back with her family.  Although her extended family situation is better –family is not poor and grandparents decided they missed her enough to want to raise her- the hurt in my heart is nonetheless evident.  To my caring heart I say “F*!@ That!

Ah, well it’s time to move on…maybe a nice big plate of French Toast will sweeten my mood....then a stop at Vego for a nice filling wrap to take back to my hotel, a shower, little brainless television and then bed.  yeah, I think that's what I need...


After meditation every evening, we give the children a snack. We usually spend around $150 a month on snacks, which isn’t too bad, considering we’re giving 50+ snacks out every night of the week.  Fruit is the best snack (and they cannot seem to get enough of!), but because of the amount we need and the shelf life of natural foods, it’s usually a pre-packaged item bought from the local market in bulk.  I never ever in my life thought I would miss seeing a Sam’s Club or Costco… 

Going to the market to buy snack is usually a big feat, where the vendors salivate as they see me walking near with comments of “Wat Opot” on their lips.  Wat Opot means lots of children which means I will buys lots of snacks which means they have the opportunity to make their daily (or weekly) quota in about an hour.

When the snacks are brought back to Wat Opot, I need help in distinguishing what is what from the receipts, because they are written in Khmer.  If there are left-over snacks from the evening meditation, we sell those in the café, so to be able to price them accordingly, I must figure out which snack costs a certain amount and then divide that amount by the number of items in the package.  I also do this to keep an itemized account of how much each snack costs so I don’t get cheated the next time while buying them – you know, supposed rich white foreigner = $$, regardless of the beat up vehicle I drive or the fact that I do not actually earn an income….

Kimseak, Sovanrith and Thy helped me open the boxes and started getting to work putting the snacks in order on the squared tile floor.  It’s a challenge for them as well since many market stall owners are close to illiterate, so they struggle to distinguish the handwriting.

Once itemized, they are put into covered bins awaiting meditation and hungry little mouths!

09 April, 2013

creepy crawlies

I ran across some photo’s from last year when Fiona visited WatOpot once again.  Pending another earthquake in her hometown of Christchurch, NZ, we anxiously awaited her return.  In one of her Creative Play sessions, she had the little ones work with wire (something they don’t usually get to do).

They took to making their spiders some skillfully, some not so skillfully, but all happily.  

After Fiona displayed the finished works of art, we decided to bring the wire creatures into their living cousins natural environment.

Our tough-skinned-outside-the-box-thinker Kunthea who has learned to embrace life without her older brother (who left last year), wanted her spider to be pretty, thus the addition of a bouquet of roses.  She didn’t care that the kids said they were too big for her spider.  Much like herself, her little spider will overcome obstacles in life and build a bigger web for it.

The spiders were placed in Winnie’s Boutique and two have since moved to Australia, and one to the USA.  Kunthea always looks in at hers and asks me “why nobody buy me (mine)” and I tell her I won’t let them because I like the flowers.  She grins and says in her usual “Ohhhhh Mama, you skuit (crazy).” and then bounds off to play.