Monday, 25 February 2013

Cambodia Medical Voluntour Pt7


From my room at the resort I had a lovely view of the sunrise.  I dashed outside in my PJs to get these photos.  That is Margaret having some quiet time.  Across the other side of the water is the fun park and the Mushrooms I spoke about in the previous blog post.

Today was our Sabbath day and most of us went out to the Children's Village to have church with them.  The other group of volunteers from Perth was taking the service.  The them was being shielded by God's Armour so the kids had foam shields with a person on it and every now and then they would get handed an extra part of the armour to stick on.

In front of mum and I was two mothers.  They had about 4 little kids they were trying to look after and at the same time stick these things to the shield.

This is a video I took of them singing.  It sounded soooo nice.  Unfortunately the speakers picked up the speaking voices too well.

This little boy was a right horror to his mother.  She coped really well with him.
 Some of the pieces didn't quite fit well on the foam shield so one of the mothers got creative. 

The two mothers busy assembling.
Such a little cutie
Giving a helping hand to feed.

Has the helmet now

After Church I finally found my little girl.  Isn't she a sweetie.  Can't speak english yet so Sopheavy translated for me.  She said she saw me during church and recognised me from photos (but I still had to go hunting for her).

Just before lunch Tanya took us on a tour of the Village.  There are 150 kids that live here.  There are 12-15 kids in each home with house parents to look after them.  This is so that they get as close to a normal family upbringing as possible.  There is a lot of love that flows from the parents to these kids and it is returned.  The house fathers will work on the farm that helps provide food and the mothers prepare the food and do the clothes washing etc.
As a side note, the power here is currently run on a generator.  In a couple of months they will be connecting up to the main power supply.  In the mean time the poor house mothers wash clothes the old fashioned way ... a scrubbing board.  There are four washing machines coming next month but of course they have to wait for the power to come on before they can use them.
One of the house fathers with some of homes behind

This is a new home that is being set up for the older girls.  It is so that they can't start learning to be more independent of their house parents.

Part of the produce they grow

Looks a little like outback Australia.  The water pump is relatively new.

Back in time for lunch and getting your hair braided.

Apparently the boys are better at it than the girls.

When I received the itinerary for today, it said something about a mountain climb.  I was like "OMG" there is no way I could get this butt up a steep mountain.  Anyway the mountain happened to 1000 steps up to a Temple.  I really didn't want to miss out and when I found out you could pay for a motorbike to take you up, I was thrilled.   Firstly I have a habit of either falling up or down stairs.  We do not like each other.  I was already well on the way to mum's cold and didn't want to add bruising or broken limbs.  Also I am fat and even when I was 20kgs lighter and doing Jacobs ladder (350 + stairs) I would not have done it.  By the time I got up there I would have to turn around and come down again.  In fact I made a damn good decision by using the bike.  The fit young ones had shaky legs by the time they came back down and apparently the stairs were so slippery even the locals were falling over.
Once at the Temple ($2 up and $2 back),  My motor bike taxi guy wanted me to pay straight away.  They are supposed to wait if we have negotiated both ways.  I wasn't stupid.  If I gave him $4 now he would rack off.  So I shook my head and got him to tell me where to meet him to take me down before walking off.
There were monkeys everywhere.  I love monkeys.  This cheeky one was trying to get into the cars that were allowed up there.

Just hanging ...

Annoyed that this one is blurred.  I love his expression.

The Monkeys were mainly around this statue

What really saddened me is that the local kids thought it was funny to provoke the monkeys into chasing them.  Not only is this cruel but it also meant that anyone who happened suddenly upon a monkey may also be "attacked" as one of my team found out.

More images of the Temple

More Infra red images.  Not that happy with them.  If I change it to B&W it looks like a standard B&W and not an infra red one.  Below I have done colour alteration ones.  I think the issue may be that I am using a low Infra red spectrum filter rather than a high one.  Next time I will have to get one that lets more infra red in.
I must admit these do look better than the colour ones.

The main Temple
A monk that let me take his photo

A lion face. Ankor Watt has a lot of these.  Makes me wonder if lions ever existed in Cambodia.

An interesting alter room.  The tree was 3D plastic with leaves that blew in the wind.  This is Buddhist Nun.  I didn't see any in my last visit.

Love these two shots.

There were alcoves everywhere with different Buddhas.

Don't ask me who or why I have no idea.
From the top of the stairs looking down
From the bottom looking up. 

Maybe I will do the stairs next time.  The only problem is the sellers at the bottom of the stairs only had warm coke and water.  You really needed something cold by then.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Cambodia Medical Voluntour Pt6


We said goodbye to Phom Penh and headed north.  The town we were headed for is halfway between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.  It can be anywhere from a 2 to a 4 hour drive.  I think it took us around 3.  It was fun trip. We did not know what to expect when we got there though.  Apparently the hotel where the groups normally stayed was booked out by another group (yes from WA and I knew some of the people).  One of the ICC children's villages is out here so they were there specifically to help with construction around the village itself.  More on the village later though.  

Back to the accommodation ... Tanya was forced to find somewhere else for us to stay and being such a big group was proving difficult.  We were told that it was probably going to be a down grade to what we would have had as they only had 15 rooms available.  This meant shearing.  I chalked it up to part of the adventure.

Now back to the trip up.  Like most countries, if you travel in Cambodia you will eventually come across an small area where you can break you journey to buy some food and or go to the toilet.  We made one stop for a toilet and mum got really excited because they were selling lotus flower seed pods.  The seeds are delicious.  She bought some.  Sopheavy was also in our van and she purchased them cooked.  We shared them round for taste testing.  They were so yummy.  You can't say which is best because the cooked ones taste so different to the fresh raw ones.  Sopheavy told us how her mother made a sticky rice dessert with the lotus seeds in it and how yummy it was.

The next stop was just our van as Sopheavy had promised the cooks at the children's village that she would bring some pineapples for them.  We just so happened to stop at a place that I had stopped at in 2009.  I was sooooo excited because I knew they sold deep fried spiders here.  Would you believe that I was the only one who got out of the van to go for a walk while Sopheavy bargained for pineapples.

I have no idea what bird this is.
Grasshoppers anyone?
 And the tarantulas.  According to Tanya a leg tastes like a potato chip ... not eating potato chips again
A small section of the stop
Back under way Sopheavy produced some Sugar palm fruit for us all to try and she also found some sticky rice dessert like her mother made.
Sopheavy eating the sugar palm fruit
Inside these little packages is sweetened (not overly) sticky rice with lotus flower seeds.  I have also placed some lotus flower seeds on the seat next to them for the photo.  The sticky rise was delicious.  It was the best thing I have tasted in Cambodia to date, and I have had some yummy food here.

We finally arrive at our accommodation which turns out to be a resort with a small theme park attached to it.  The main area for accommodation was on an island in the middle of a man made lake (I think it was man made).  The accommodation was absolutely gorgeous.  We even had a pool right outside our door.  From our accommodation we could look over the lake to the theme Park and the "Mushrooms."

Some of the larger rooms had space for two extra beds so there were rooms with 5 people in it.  Apparently other rooms were actually day rooms (sun rooms) that had no air con or fans, no toilet or bathroom.  Two of the girls were in one of these by the pool.  We told them they were welcome to use our bathroom for showers etc.  Luckily there was a building that was open and well lit all night and it had toilets.  Also lucky for us, due to mum's age, the fact that she had a cold and a cough and that I used a cpap, meant we had a small room to ourselves.  There were two single beds and no room for any more.

I mentioned the mushrooms earlier.  These are kinda of like day rooms as well I think but because they are over next to the theme park they had a shower and toilet.  That was downstairs, upstairs was an open area with wide windows.  They are termed the mushrooms because the room above is much larger than the room below.  Some our team had to stay in these.  Apparently the stairs up to the top room were narrow and as steep as a ladder (yes luggage had to get up there).  There was no closed off privacy for the toilet and shower.  If you came down the ladder and someone was on the loo (just close your eyes).

Tanya in the restaurant organising our rooms
Outside waiting to be shown where to go
Barely there for 10 minutes and already one of the guys has been in the pool and sun baking.
This room was gorgeous.  (Not ours).  Abigail and her family were in this one.  To the left is the bathroom.  The glass is covered in an underwater themed sticker and when you turn on a certain switch, it starts a real water fall.  This on the bedroom side of the glass and there is a water catcher at the bottom but it didn't do a good job.  Two of the boys were in a sun room that went out over the water.  Lucky for them there was an outside toilet.
After unpacking we headed to the ICC Children's Village for lunch.  We were to have all our dinners here and lunches would be provided for us as well by the cooks.  I sponsor a little girl who is at this Village and kept trying to find her but she was in school so I couldn't see her. When I told Tanya who she was, Tanya told me that she is so gorgeous and that everyone knew her.  I was so nervous about meeting her.  Kids in Cambodia seem to be afraid of me.  I think it is because of my weight which means wealth in Cambodia and not many wealthy people associate with the poor.  I think the kids found me fascinating but not quite game to come up to me like they did others.  Even when I approached them, I only won them over with taking photos.
That afternoon was spent back at the resort and in the pool.  We noticed that there was also a flying fox across the lake so a group went and had some fun on that.  I would have gone but I didn't feel comfortable walking around in my bathers like the others so I stayed back.  Abigail promised she would come with me again the next night.
That evening we went back to the village for dinner.  The sunset along the way was spectacular and dotted with palm trees.  I really wished I could ask the driver to stop so I could take a photo but didn't want to hold anyone up. 
There were some kids hanging around but again I did not see my little girl.  I was told I would definitely see her at church the next day.
Where we ate and the food was delicious.  Oh that is Kate poking out her tongue.
our lovely cooks for the next couple of days.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Cambodia Medical Voluntour Pt5


This clinic was a hard clinic.  Everyone was tired and hot and grumpy, and we had a few off sick.  This clinic was also both sad and happy.  I have mentioned in previous blogs about village relocation.  In this one I am going to tell you what I learned from Kevin Knight.  He lives in this village with the locals and has done a lot of hard work to help build what they have. 

Prior to the clinic being opened  he sat us all down and spoke to us about how the Village came to be.  Before that though I need to tell you a bit of history (as I heard it from Kevin).

When Pol Pot was in control of Cambodia he destroyed all documentation including land titles.  After the war, people settled where they could.  When larger banks started to reinvest in Cambodia they told the Government that land titles were needed again.  From what I understand, if you could prove that you have lived where you are for more than 5 years then the land would be considered yours.  Of course this can be hard for many of the poor.  Even those that could proove it were and are not guaranteed the land is theirs.  Especially if it is on prime real estated that foreign investors have an interest in.

Some of the people in this Village were in a similar situation.  They were in negotiation over the land for a measly sum of $15,000.  The land is apparently worth $44 million.  In the middle of the night, bulldozers and police came to evict them and no money was given.  Kevin was there and he broke down as he remembered that night. Children screaming in the streets, people running to get what little posessions they had.  They were then dumped 20km out of Phnom Penh in a field. Some, but not all were give minimal shelter.  There was no access to work, medical help, and schools.

Kevin is the co founder of Mannah4Life.  Through donations they have been able to buy plots of land in the area the villagers were dumped.  They have built homes and a school.  They have a farm set up where they raise chickens and grow food. 

I asked what was to stop the government from doing the same thing again as many of these people had been relocated up to 3 times.  He said that there wasn't.  Even with the fact that they had bought land and had the paperwork that there was no guarantee.  The only benefit is that it is so far out of the city that it is not worth anything to them. 

When I was in Cambodia in 2009 they had just closed down the tip.  I believe the new tip is close to this Village now.  While we were running the clinic, huge rubbish trucks came through regularly.  The road is not wide and there are kids running everywhere.  These trucks do not seem to slow down (or so it felt from inside).

Before I go on about our visit please take time to watch the below video as well as take a look at the Mannah4Life website here:

This video appears to be a combination of many recordings on the day. It is worth watching through to the end. 

Please note that in order to go on this trip every person needed to raise $1000.  This was to help with medical supplies, visits to hospital if required, and to purchase land.  I think we purchase 4 blocks of land for this village.

This clinic left me feeling like I was being pulled in all directions but not able to do anything constructive.  People were appearing in places they shouldn't have been and the building was really hot.  There was a nice breeeze if the windows were left open but apparently there is an old superstition about sitting in front of an open window, which meant that where we had chairs, the windows were eventually closed.

 Mary from She Rescue getting in for a cuddle

Kids looking in from the outside as we set up
Only half the nurse's supplies
We were in the new school building so the builders of our team were put to work outside to add some planter boxes.
The inside triage line
Those outside waiting to come in.  The two headless blokes are our crowd control at the front door.
Triage in the back ground and blood pressure with Mary in the foreground
Wide view of Triage.

Waiting patiently

This is Kevin with one of the older men of the Village.  I was about to take the man somewhere when Kevin started to tell me his story:
About 18 months ago the shanty village that this man was living in, caught fire.  He ran in and out of shanties trying to get everyone out.  People started running back in to get their valuables.  He decided to do the same.  He had $5 and I think it was a watch that he was looking for.  The roof was on fire and it collapsed on him.  He managed to get himself into a big water pot but the heat made it become unbearable.  In bear feet he managed to get out of the rubble, across burning debris and collapse on the road.  I don't know how, but he made his way to the hospital with third degree burns all over his body.  They would not admit him because he was poor.  He sat on the hospital steps for around a week.  Kevin heard about him and asked ICC to help.  He was admitted to hospital, got the treatment he needed and now lives in the relocated village.
The photo is not a good one but he is showing off the burns on his arms.

A little fun before lunch
It took him ages to blow this up and tie it off.  He was sooo proud of himself when he finally did it.

Another Chhorvy photo bomb.  I cut her head off ... mwahahahaha
A lunch time walk to Kevin's house (to use the squat pot) I took some shots along the way.  In the background you will see a big water pot (like the one the old man jumped into.

I am sure Kevin had something to do with this set up.  :)
After lunch, word has got around about the clinic and the line outside gets longer
One of Twins
Here's the twins with mum
The twins with me.  I am normally good with kids but in Cambodia I think I scared them.  Notice the rings and bangles on the little guys (yes boys).

Clinic is over and everyone is happy.

Sleepy heads on the way home.



Back at the hotel waiting for his ride home our little translator gets creative with his hair.

On our way to finally pick up my 3 pairs of new pants I took some images of the traffic. View from the Tuk Tuk.  There is an intersection up ahead so bikes cars and moto's are going every which way possible.

 This quick video I took does not do the traffic justice
At dinner I think we confused out waiters.  Every now and then little signs like this one would pop up.  LOL