Monday, 20 February 2012

That moment when culture shock punches you in the face...

A blog entry from my recent trip to Cambodia:

For those who don’t know I am in Cambodia for a month volunteering with the amazing SHE Rescue Home.

The nation of Cambodia is both captivating and heart-breaking. It has a history of war, trauma, and devastation. And now there is child sex trafficking, violence, and poverty beyond what we can imagine.

And so after being here for a week, culture shock has left me with a black eye, few broken cheek bones and a tender heart.

Yesterday I found a little girl in the middle of the Central Markets in Phnom Penh. She is ten months old. She has advanced hydrocephalus, water on the brain. Her mum was sitting in the middle of the markets caring for her and begging.

It was later on with the image of this little girl in my mind that it caught up with me what these people’s lives must be like. I can see these sights and hear these stories and then go into a cafe or into my room and escape the reality of life in Cambodia. The Khmer people don’t have this luxury. This little girl doesn’t have that luxury.

The people here live in constant poverty without escape. They don’t curl up in a soft bed at night with a room to themselves. They can’t post a photo on Facebook and inspire people to get angry and motivated about poverty. They can’t escape this reality of poverty.

They are stuck with this constant hunger, constant pain. They go home from jobs (if they have one) and share a tiny room with another 7 people. That little girl gets carried home each day and lives with the pain and this crippling disease. The mother lives every moment with the fact that her daughter may not live much longer.

We see the poverty, we immerse ourselves in it, but we are never consumed by it. I can retreat, I can go home. They can’t. This motivates me more.

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