Monday, May 27, 2013

How did we get used to this

Sometimes I am amazed
at what a person can get used to. 
Showering over the toilet
Stepping over piles of garbage while walking along the street. 
Holding you breath as you pass by certain areas of town because you know it smells really bad. 
Massages for $6
Sand on the floor in the house 
Talking to parents and friends at odd times of the day on Skype 
Walking outside instead of down the hall to get to our bedroom after tucking the kids into bed. 
Telling people 20 times a day that I don't want to buy a bracelet, have a massage or need a ride somewhere. 
Looking into the eyes of a hungry beggar and walking away. 
Bartering with a 5 year old over a bracelet. 
Cooling off in the ocean. 
Going everywhere in a Tuk Tuk. 
Ordering my meals instead if cooking them. 
Spending all day with my family. 
Crossing the road with traffic speeding by on either side of me. 
Seeing babies and children on motorcycles without helmets. 
Sending Colton and Miranda out on a sailboat. 
Talking to people using as few words as possible 
Having to barter for everything I buy. 
Sleeping without my pillow. 
Living without a phone. 
Wearing the same clothing day after  day. 
Not having a schedule. 
Being hot. 
Having limited Internet. 
Lizards on the walls inside every room. 
Watching someone throw garbage out their car window. 
Seeing cows, goats, chickens, pigs and water buffalo walking on the roads  in cities
All of these things make travel in other countries so different from Canada. These things make up the experience. You have to take the bad with the good and learn from it all. 
We are changed because of the differences we see. We are changed because of the interactions we have with the people we have met. Some things I could do without and hope things will change for the better for the people of Asia. It will take time. Time and education. For them, but for us just as much. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The hard parts of Cambodia

Imagine your normal day. The kids get up in the morning, you get them breakfast, pack their lunch for school, you and your husband get ready for work and the day begins. It's a normal day for you and it's also a normal day for the people of Cambodia. Sometimes it's hard to imagine or understand that people in other countries live a very similar life that we in Canada do. But they do. They have families that they love like we do. They have kids that need to get up, dressed and fed before they go to school. They also have homes that they have worked for and jobs to go to every day. Same same, but different. 

Now imagine if one day as the kids are ready to go off to school, someone comes to your house and tells you that you need to pack a bag and some food and you need to leave your home for a few days. What? That doesn't make sense does it? It didn't make sense to the Cambodian people in 1975 either. As we listen to the stories of the Cambodian people, we come to realize how sometimes the world doesn't make sense and sometimes it is not fair. It's hard to imagine what the Cambodian people went through 38 years ago. But every single person we have met was affected by the war. EVERY SINGLE PERSON HAS BEEN DIRECTLY AFFECTED! 

Some people don't remember because they were to young. But they feel like they remember because they have learnt from their parents, if they are still alive. Most people don't have grandparents, most may only have one parent. Because their family was either killed for being educated or starved to death. 40% of the Cambodian population were killed. 40%!
The Cambodian people couldn't return to their homes. They were pushed around the countryside for many years. Slaves to a government that decided where they lived, when they worked, what they wore and how much food they got (1 cup of watery rice a day) and if they would live or die. 

It's hard to hear isn't it? It's also hard to look into the eyes of people who are sharing their story of going back to remove the bones of their father 30 years after their death from starvation, because the burial ground has turned into a construction area and needs  to be cleared of all bones. It was a shallow grave, because the malnourished wife had to dig the grave herself while on the move to yet another home. A home that the pol pot regime made them go to. They had no choice. If they argued they died. It was as easy as that. You did what they told you to. Or you died. 

It makes me so mad! I feel horrible that we as North Americans took so long to help. I remember hearing about Cambodian "boat people" coming across the ocean when I was a kid. We all thought, why are these people risking their lives and the life of their kids to sail across the ocean in a boat. I know now. It makes me sad. 

How many people come to Canada seeking safety from what is happening in their country right now? Maybe we think they should go back to where they come from. Maybe we don't understand. Maybe we need to try harder. How can we learn more? I'm sure that its as easy as getting to know some of these newcomers and asking them. I don't want to find out in 30 years that we as adults had an opportunity to make a difference and didn't even try because we thought it couldn't possibly be that bad. Maybe it is. 

Suggested movie or reading- the killing fields or first they killed me father
Google- Cambodia pot pot regime or Khmer Rouge