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One week in.   Cambodian Blog 11

January 12, 2015

Well I have been based in Phnom Penh for a week now. One quarter of the volunteering time. I feel we have done so much, but as yet really know so little.

The daily activities of living are slotting into place. Have breakfast at the hotel, then off via Tuck Tuck to place of work. My remit to work with Mdme Chea, President of the Cambodian Midwives Association.

We have sorted how to do the laundry, how to top up phones, have communicated with home via Skype and Facebook.  We have located several restaurants to our liking nearby and have even ventured to the expensive local Costa.

Work

We had some luck in that we joked our way to be taken with Madam Chea on a trip to Kratie, a province of Cambodia on the banks of the Mekong, to the North East of Phnom Penh. There was a workshop on prevention of Tetanus. We thought was cord care, but was about encouraging vaccination of women predominantly.

We also witnessed Madam Chea at her best in the afternoon delivering a presentation about the difference between the Cambodian Midwives Association and the Cambodian Midwives Council. If you are in the UK this would be the difference between the Royal College of Midwives and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

It was great to spend time with this remarkable woman and our translators in a social environment that will I am sure will help to develop the relationships that will increase the chance of  success of our time here.

Culture

We have spent time getting to know the language and manage to say hello and good morning and thank you easily now.  Working on “please”.  I can also say “no problem” and have called many babies “beautiful”.

The roads are full of “moto’s” – motor scooters and they now pull the Tuck Tucks that in the past must have been bicycle driven. The streets are colourful and aromatic and the food devine.

We managed a trip to see the dolphins in Kratie whilst at the workshop.  Sadly Madam Chea has been many times and never seen the dolphins.  We were very lucky.

Have now been to “Friends restaurant” which is run to help training local young people to learn the food industry.  They also help their parents work and many items – scarves, bags, books, jewellery are produced from recycled materials. These are sold in the shop next door.

You are aware as the night draws in that the atmosphere of downtown Phnom Penh changes and a local Australian colleague warned us of the “Cinderella” hour, when it is best to be back at the hotel.

We also took time out during our days of to attend the “killing fields” where one quarter of the population were brutally murdered by the Khmer Rouge. It was hard hitting as you walked around the field listening to an English translation of the events that took place there. It was indeed humbling but I believe important to understand how Cambodians are now.

Reflection

So where am I? How do I feel?  Remarkably calm and at home. I have settled into my room as a haven to return to after the days events. My colleagues are lovely and we are working and playing together very well. I love their company as we share this experience and support each other.

I feel that the real work has started now as I work on a newsletter, a project plan and try to develop relationships with funding bodies to help keep the support of the CMA in place.

I am loving the networking and meeting all kinds of different people including the Cambodians themselves, the pregnant women and their families, the ex-patriots, the fellow travellers in the hotel. It is an all encompassing experience and I am privileged to be here.

Cambodia Jan 2015 037 Cambodia Jan 2015 090 Cambodia Jan 2015 109 Cambodia Jan 2015 174 Cambodia Jan 2015 222 Cambodia Jan 2015 210 Cambodia Jan 2015 217 Cambodia Jan 2015 232 Cambodia Jan 2015 246

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