Cambodia is such an incredible place !
With over 30% of the population living in abject poverty and a further 40% only a little better off, but still living on less than $2/day, it's hard to understand what they have to smile about, but smile they do. Everywhere I go I'm greeted by smiling faces, always ready to help in anyway they can - I think they find my "pigeon" Khmer kinda funny !
I've already met some amazing people:
Baz, an Aussie pharmacist working for a large pharmaceutical company based in Perth, who keeps CCT supplied with essential drugs for the kids ( and staff ) and makes regular visits on his own time to offer his invaluable help and much needed advice. He's also a laugh a minute..
Nick, another Aussie based in Phnom Penh, who is the Marketing Manager for SISHA - Anti Human Traffickers and Exploitation, who are doing a very difficult job here and are about to embark on a joint enterprise with CCT to build a Unit in Battambang that will include a refuge for abused women, an investigative arm of the law, including forensic medical investigation and legal advice. Under the current system, police have to pay for any investigations they do OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKET!! Understandably, not much is investigated (which goes a long way to explaining why the chronic abuse in unregistered 'orphanages' can continue, unchecked, even when it is reported...)
While we were in Phnom Penh, we met with Nick, at a new cafe he recommended called the Piano so he and Tara could discuss these plans. Combined with a piano store and music school it immediately had Tara thinking ( she never stops looking for, and pursuing, opportunities for CCT). There is a young boy at CCT who, though illiterate, is a gifted pianist ( and artist). Tara mentioned him to Nick, who then introduced her to the owner of The Piano (the only Khmer person in Cambodia with a PhD in Music). He agreed to accept Pearun as a student.
What a great opportunity for him. Tara had been looking into the possibility of sending him to a music school in Singapore but was loath to send him away from Cambodia. Now he can stay here, study Music and Art and continue his academic studies!
Natalie arrived last night. She's a nurse who is a much needed, 'permanent' addition to the CCT team and will be able to constantly monitor the health needs of the kids.
There's also a lovely British couple, Phil and Louise, who are here for a couple of months, as volunteers, through AFID, assessing the needs of CCT and applying their expertise as accountants wherever it can be utilized.
As for me, I'm gradually finding my feet.
My Little Log Cabin
at the bottom of the garden
So far my days have involved learning where all the various CCT enterprises are, meeting staff and kids, getting WiFi and phone sorted, shopping for supplies etc. All interspersed with lots of cafe visits for 'snacks': spring rolls, curries, stirfries, omelettes ( I really could become a permanent resident here just for the food..) and it's so cheap I won't have to cook! Then there's the fruit shakes *sound of me drooling*. My favourite so far is pineapple & ginger.. although strawberry & coconut with ice cream runs a pretty close 2nd, and bucketloads of COFFEE - so glad the Cambodians have finally discovered the benefits of having real, strong, honest-to-goodness coffee, instead of the Vietnamese stuff, which tastes kinda like a cup of dirt made with dish water and is served with condensed milk- which only makes it taste like really sweet dirt in dish water..
The staff are all, not surprisingly, kind, thoughtful & generous people.
Erin Kirby Daisy Gibbs
Erin,CCT's Operations Manager, has ridden me all around BB on her little moto, showing me were to find our bank, ATMs, Post Office, swimming pool (definitely be using that - often) all the best cafes & bars (hhmmm..probably use those even more often than the pool..) She's an absolute gem.
Tara has promised to introduce me to the best masseuse in town. At $6/hr I might pop in there once or twice a week..
Cambodians only seem to make sweet, white, breadlike, roll-thingies made without salt..
I cannot live without carbs..
There's only so much rice I can eat in a day.
Ergo, I WILL get used to their bread !
Until I get my Cambodian licence and can drive or ride, I have a bicycle. Finally getting some much needed exercise and it's a great way to learn my way around - although I stayed out riding around town for so long yesterday, that it was dark by the time i headed home and I rode straight past my house...3 times. Ended up going about 2km further along the road on that 3rd pass, before I was sure I'd gone too far and turned around..again. Fortunately Daisy had organised my sim card earlier in the day, so I sent out a mayday and she came to save me. She wasn't even laughing..too much..There are no street lights once you leave the centre of town (and not many there) so, in all fairness to myself, finding anything at night's a challenge - my bike has a "Bart Simpson" style light - so it runs off my awesome 'peddle-power' ( stop laughing Al)
Luckily, it's completely flat around BB so even I can rise to the challenge !
My current favourite lunch.
At The White Rose:
Strawberry&Coconut fruit shake,
omelette and breadlike roll-thingies...$2.75
And, of course, my exercise machine...
Well the temperature has dropped below 30 at last, so I guess it's time for sleep. Another delightfully busy day tomorrow...