Thursday, 16 August 2012

That was then, this is now

That was then 

Every now and again Cambodia's recent history slaps you in the face as a reminder as to why their country is like it is.  No, not the ongoing unexploded ordnance left over from the US led Australian backed Vietnam War exploding, still killing and disabling farmers and children to this day but the even more odious history of the Khmer Rouge.  While the ongoing, seemingly farcical Khmer Rough trials are happening, events like the continual unearthing of Killing Fields are a not so subtle reminder of recent history.

A newly unearth Killing Field in Siem Reap (picture from Phnom Penh Post)

Visiting such sites is extraordinarily emotive for anyone with any empathy for humanity

1 of 1000's of skull at Choung Ek Killing Field
(we did last year, more photos here) even for those of us not involved, I can only image the emotions of those actually finding the remains of relatives.

This is now

Of course the result of all of the above is the society observed today, on a "GDP per Capita" basis. Cambodia is near the bottom in terms of the wealth of it's citizens when compared to other nations. Not that many nations have not helped. Billions of dollars of Aid had been poured in, often misdirected with misdirected oversight by large bureaucracies and the ineptness this invariably brings (not a slight on anyone in particular, it's simply an unfortunate side effect of the implementation of large projects anywhere, by anyone).  The result ? A grinding poverty for many.

While we are forever mindful of the Chinese proverb about "teach a man to fish..." it's not so easy when directly confronted with incredible grinding poverty to ignore the plight of ones fellow human being.  Where, while trying to teach them to fish, which we do here every day by helping here and here for example, they struggle to eat in the interim.  With that in mind we organised another parcel of food, 

with the proviso the children of the families we help keep attending school etc, this temporarily keeps pressure off the family, hopefully keeping the children at school and not having to be put to work to help feed the family.

It's been a hard week, but not so much different from every other week.  To lighten the load a little, we could of course always refer to the immortal George Carlin-

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day

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