Mission to Cambodia 2012
from Cameray Hart
Let me start off by saying that it has been an emotional week for all of us. Between HIV home visits, trips to Tuol Sleng and The Killing Fields, and our last days at the hospital, there has been strong emotions all around. We were feeling sadness, anger, hopelessness, and even some guilt. However, today can only be described as "joyful."
The morning started off with our annual service project, the rice drive. Every year, through the church, we help an impoverished population within a certain community outside of Phnom Penh. We ended up back at the community last year's trip donated rice to. All of the recipients of our gifts this year were widows. Through donations, we raised enough to feed 16 families. We provided them with 30kg of rice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sardines, rice noodles, laundry detergent, and two sarongs. There was pure joy and appreciation in the well-worn faces of all the women. Two women were too weak to leave their homes to pick up the rice and supplies, so we brought it to them. We walked around the neighborhood and found that the houses had been built on top of the sewer. A few years ago, the people living in the community were forced out of their homes and the only place they could afford was on the sewer. The people of the community greeted us with smiling faces and playing with the smiling children brought us so much joy. It was good to feel like we are making a difference in the lives of a community. The supplies we gave them can last each family about a month.
We ate lunch today at a restaurant that serves mostly Khmer dishes. The restaurant is also a teaching facility where they take children off the streets and teach them the skills of culinary arts. We enjoyed the dishes including Lotus Salad and Vegetable Curry. However, there was one item that we ordered that only a few were brave enough to try: TARANTULAS! The brave souls were Erin, Cassie, Elizabeth, and myself. They were deep fried, chewy, and much larger than expected. It was a funny, well documented experience.
Tonight was one of my personal favorite nights. To celebrate passing "check-offs" earlier in the week, all of the nurses got together and had a party. It was fun to get dressed up and see each other out of scrubs. The food was a little to...Cambodian...for us kids from America, but what the party lacked in food choices, it made up for in dancing. We blended the styles we knew with new styles we learned from the nurses. (It's all in the hands). We had a great time dancing the night away.
Today we were able to bring joy to many hearts. Through this trip, I have learned that Cambodia is a country of survivors. They are a wonderful people and I am so fortunate for this opportunity. I can only think that I was somehow meant to be here. I have met so many inspirational individuals on this journey, and I pray that we can begin to spread the same type of love and support we have received.