Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Insights and observations

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One of the good things about riding the mountain bike is being able to get off the beaten track a little more as well as take it a little slower. This allows us to see more of rural Cambodia and we get to interact with the locals. They often come out and say "Su Sa Dey !" (hello) as we ride past.  For someone from Australia, it's incredibly interesting to be able to see the farmers use buffalo hitched to a plow, plowing their fields.  For tiny village shops to sell a variety of interesting produce and pigs, chicken, cattle and buffalo on the small rural roads in front of us.

Oxen pulling a cart in Kampot province

The rural areas tend to work nearly exclusively in the national currency (Reil) which is about R4,000 to $1USD  Even though our Khmer is poor, we have always been interested in language and linguistics and we are learning as we go.  We stopped at a tiny village store, to get bananas and a pineapple, so we knew when she said "Bram bee roi" (7000) when we had asked "tly phon mahn ?", (how much money is this) .  It feels much  better to buy from the village stores than the supermarkets in town. Much like farmers markets back home in that respect, though there is the perception that being rich (after all we could afford an air ticket to get over here, we must be rich) they will often put the price up for a westerner.

Thinking Big

I also get to observe some of the bigger organisations trying to do big projects, often ending badly.  Recently AusAID poured millions of dollars into a project to get rail back up and running in Cambodia, by getting an Australian company, TOLL Group, to work with a local company of dubious provenance (ROYAL Group), and the project fell over.  Helping fund a Cambodian Billionaires construction dreams with Aid money seems quite odd to me...  I was immediately reminded of the TED Talk,

big projects big money big disappointments and wonder if there isn't a better way with the micro models I see all around giving positive outcomes every day

Rumdual School

Here is another great project we have been involved with. As well as helping out with volunteer work in the past, we have used small amounts of the donations money for a couple of the small projects they have had and we have been helping them develop a website.  So far we're happy and most importantly they're happy with the site.

Click on this link to go to the Romdual School website

here's a thumbnail of the site, click to open the site itself


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