Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lunch ! and how many can fit on a scooter ?


Jenny from Martin Rd made a $50 donation via pay pal the other day, absolutely wonderful and thank  you so much Jenny, it came through the day before we went to Khmer New year lunch and we have a serendipitous story about how we used Jenny's money to help out a local family.  More on that later.

Good Will Centre

I was invited down to the Good Will Centres' Khmer New Year party, we supplied some of the fruit from the donations fund ($8), this was sourced from the local Market.

The party was wonderful, attended by most of the kids and the teachers.  Anyone interested in the great job these guys do can find out more here

Fruit for the party

The kids had a wonderful time, as did I.
These girls had been practising a a dance routine ! Awesome !

Tug of war, teacher joining in

Rain storm providing the opportunity
 for a quick shower

Henrik, who founded the organisation,
 owner of the Small Hotel in Sihanoukville

Enjoying fruit for lunch

Local boy loved wearing our sunglasses and he could really bust a move !

Mong's Family - Khmer New Year Lunch

As the Otres School was in recess for the Khmer New Year for a few weeks I had some extra time on my hands.  I have been coming to the Good Will Centre for a couple of reasons, one to ensure they were doing the "right thing" so that any donations we gave them from the Nymboida Donations Fund would be used properly i.e. I was doing some due diligence and because in the short time I had been coming to the centre, I had formed a relationship with some of the people there, volunteers, Khmer staff and Khmer volunteers.  In particular Sabine (from Germany) is a volunteer that runs the place and does an incredible job and Mong, a local Khmer young man of 17 who was acting as my moto-dop.

Mong invited us out to his place for lunch on Khmer New Year, which is more a religious time of the year, than a "turning of the calendar" celebration, as it is in the west.  They had made us a special lunch, which was kind of unfortunate as we had wanted to eat what they eat on a day to day basis but I guess this is not unlike us in the west when we invite guests over, we often make something special.

L to R: Me, Mong and his Mother (Mie) under their house

Their house: Mong, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother in Law and Brother

Lunch they had cooked for us

The kitchen

Mongs fathers blacksmith workshop - Forge on L and anvil on R
Back of the kitchen

Unfortunately they live on land they rent from the neighbour, so they are very restricted in what they can do.  Mongs father breaks rocks by hand for a living, literally, has done for decades, and sells them for construction purposes. Mongs mother makes a savoury rice porridge and wanders the streets selling it.

Old Lady living under the neighbours house
The neighbours houses all crowded around, living in each others back pockets.  The back neighbour had an old lady who had been allowed to squat there. She slept in a rope hammock under the house and locals donated food for her to live.  She had an interesting face.

During the course of lunch it came up that they had no toilet, they simply wander up to some spot on the hill up the back. They couldn't afford the $50 to have a toilet built, so we thought that would be a great way to spend Jenny's money, so we gave Mongs mother the money, with Mong translating (he spoke quite good English from putting himself through English school)  saying it was for them to build a toilet.

Mong's mother (Mie) accepting Jenny's donation

All in all a great day and it had been a wonderful opportunity to glimpse the life of the urban poor of Cambodia. It's really quite soul destroying to see how these people live. If twenty people gave the price of a bottle of coke, we could build a toilet for their neighbours.

Moto-Dop (scooter taxi)

Scooter taxis are one of the main ways to get about it Cambodia where you jump on the back of a scooter, in fact, they seem to be able to fit so many people on a scooter, I am not sure why they need cars at all ! While I didn't take this photo, and it is an extreme example, 4 - 6 is not uncommon, and I myself am occasionally on the back with a moto-dop, his wife and two kids.  This photo speaks volumes :)

These moto-taxis are normally run by men of various ages and are just people who happen to own a scooter offering their services to run you around for a fee.  Fuel is as expensive here as it is in Australia, so comparatively it is horrendously expensive and makes up the biggest component of a fair, I would pay $1 to get to the other end of town from were I live.  Supply and demand is completely left to the free market and it is an interesting example of  genuine Capitalism at work, with no interference or legislation from Government at all. A system that works really well.


Just a reminder to those living in Aus, in order to avoid paypal fees (Pay Pal took $1.50 from Jenny's generous $50  donation), you can do a direct deposit straight into the bank account, the details of which are right under the Pay Pal donation button on the web page.  This is what Richard does every fortnight with his regular generous donations.  Small regular donations ($5 - $10 a fortnight) can be set up through your Internet banking account easily.


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