I’ve spent many hours reading different reports about the effectiveness of NGOS especially in Cambodia recently, following my resignation from Honour Village Cambodia. Sadly I’m being pulled into the direction that those foreigners who set up an NGO are reluctant and resistant to either have faith and train the Khmer Nationals and/or don’t know when to leave when they’re failing. It’s more about them.
It’s with a heavy heart that I have made the decision to leave the NGO I have loved volunteering at for almost 18 months. I’d always said I would stay as long as what I had to offer was of value to them. This is no longer the case. Now is the time to go.
It’s been sometime since I last posted anything and so much has happened. I was in a tuk tuk accident in Cambodia on my way to Honour Village, when the driver went a little too fast over a speed ramp and I landed precariously. As a result I ended up in hospital in Siem Reap for a week then was airlifted to Bangkok and finally to the UK 2 weeks later. 3 months later I had recovered enough to fly to Goa and join my ‘family’ at Casa Susegad.
Casa Susegad have recently brightened everything up and make the place look even more alive. I walked straight onto a film set with Tony Cordeaux making a 4 minute movie for their web site. You can watch it here.
Written by Sue Wiggans, Founder ad Director of Honour Village Cambodia.
We had a Sunday tea party recently in honour of the five children who will be leaving us during the next month.
Three will return to family/relative care and two boys will share a room in town with an older cousin, while they continue their studies at Future Bright School. They have an aunt living locally, and will also have support from our social work/community support team until they are ready to be fully independent.
Everyone is very excited, and we had a wonderful afternoon. This was a very special party as we invited all the children who still live near enough to return to us for the afternoon with younger siblings, to play and relax with their old friends.
As you will see from the photos, a good time was had by all, with renewed friendships, fun and games, and HUGE tea thanks to Lucky Mall’s 50% discount scheme.
We didn’t organise anything, but just let the afternoon unroll as the children wanted it to. They found plenty to do and enjoyed just having a time to “catch up” with each other.
These photos are of the blessing ceremony we had recently at Honour Village.
Everyone was blessed for Long Life. Even the Grandmothers and Village Elders from the local village came along for the blessing and helped in the preparations. They make the decorations from locally sourced “ingredients” and lead the chanting, which the children all seemed to know by heart.
I’ve recently been asked if my feelings and experiences match my photos. I thought this was a particularly interesting question because people seeing my Facebook comments and reading my blog could easily imagine that during my waking hours I am constantly filled with new adventures and ‘doing’ things. The reality is completely different.
I have my moments of panic and thoughts of ‘what the hell do I do next?’, ‘where will I go?’ ‘what would I do when I return to the UK?’ because I do plan to return, one day . Maybe the reason I returned to the safety of Siem Reap after only 3 months, was because if felt familiar and I had made a bond with Sue Wiggans and the children and staff at Honour Village, and some travel friends.
I regularly feel guilty about not really doing anything as some days are completely lost. I become absorbed reading my Kindle or surfing on my laptop or endless hours of Candy Crush and generally messing around. I spend lots of time walking and wandering, being friendly with the locals or completely pissed off with their stupidity, sometimes spending time chatting to the tuk tuk drivers other times ignoring their cries of ‘tuk tuk lay ddeeeeee’.
I miss having like minded people around. Many of the travellers I meet tend to be “finding” themselves but don’t have a clue what they’re looking for so don’t know how to recognise it when they ‘find’ it. Then there are the middle aged bitter women with anger and aggression oozing out of every pore, looking rough as hell without make up and wearing ill fitted clothes for comfort, criticising the young girls for how they dress and complaining about everything wrong in the country; or loud mouthed extroverts with huge egos and opinions, who expect everyone to share their opinion with no option, as they do not usually allow anyone else to speak. I watch them and want to scream shut the fxxk up. Some people want to party and drag me into enjoying their good time. I’m perfectly happy going out to eat in one of the small street restaurants where I have got to know the owners and spend evenings exchanging stories, rather than hanging out in places with music blaring away where you can’t even hear yourself speak from streets away. I like being back in my apartment early evening so I can have a leisurely end to the day and potter or catch up with Skype and feeling connected again to the outside world.
It sounds like I’m moaning, though the reality is this is like anywhere when you spend time in one place. It’s no longer a novelty as you stop seeing things with fresh eyes. Things and people become familiar. You start to recognise faces and they you. The surroundings become friendlier or to me they do. To some others they feel the opposite and get angry and frustrated at the pace of change or lack of it. But for me it’s part of the charm, though I still sometimes find myself reacting in my old inpatience ways and have to remind myself the life here is different. The values and beliefs are different. The life expectations and ambition is low maybe because it’s not encouraged. When you look at the older generation, the people who lived through the Khmer Rouge days, they tend to have a distance vague look about them and lack motivation to do anything which seems to include moving around or talking.They were unable to teach their children and their children are now the children of today who are hopefully learning from foreigners and having their minds opened. But the hardship is when they return to their families and villages. They return to the lives with nothing. I watch the families outside my apartment and their children who don’t know how to play and have little or no interaction with the adults. It’s not surprising as their parents didn’t play with them ,so how can they teach their children. The men are out I assume working and the women sit around after doing the washing or cooking and sew tapestries. the children are on their own. Somewhere along the way they have learned to beg and it’s not unusual for me to be asked for a dollar as I walk down the unlite pathway to my gated apartment.
I am happy. I have none of the stresses and pressures I had in the UK, only those I put on myself. I’m on my path and constantly finding new things . I’m not “finding” myself, I know who I am. There are a lot of good people around as with all walks of life. My photos don’t lie. They’re full of joy and happiness and I marvel at some of things and people I have met in the last 10 months. I’ve had some amazing experiences and know there will be many more. I’ve met some exceptional people who have inspired me no end. I still don’t know where I am heading so I’m going straight ahead on my path and making stops and detours whenever something catches my eye. It’s still scary. I expected it always will be and that’s ok because I it will stop once it’s behind me. I just have to find the courage to do it and usually do.