Today I woke up to hear the sounds of birds chirping outside my window. It was the most precious sound, one which is not heard too often in Phnom Penh. Dogs fighting, horns beeping, and karaoke into all hours of the night are the standard sounds of the city. So I just sat there and thanked God for this little moment of beauty in my morning, just simply listening to the birds.
Living here is so much about learning to appreciate the little things. A beautiful smell of flowers pierces through the smell of sewerage for a fleeting moment, a few stars in the sky on a clear night, the power coming back on, finding Cadbury in a random corner store. These tiny things are so precious here. Much less is taken for granted. I am beginning to be thankful for things that seem so strange to be thankful for, but those moments carry you through.
And that's not saying that the rest of Cambodia is not to love. The insane, no road-rules traffic still seems fun to me. Realising that what I thought was a cat is actually a rat still makes me laugh after I've gotten over my shock. The banter with the tuktuk drivers is usually lots of fun. And then there's the beautiful community feel of this nation. My favourite moto drivers on the corner who wave to me every morning on my way to work. The people on my street who always bring their kids out to say hello as I'm walking past. The girls at our favourite cafe who will sit down beside us for a chat if it's a quiet night. These thing are so far removed from what I'm used to, from what Australia is, yet these are the little things that I fell in love with. It is those little things that make here feel like home.
It's the little things that get us through the day. It would be so easy to become completely overwhelmed here: reading case files of the most horrific situations, walking past brothels every night, being approached by endless amounts of kids begging. The struggles of this society seem overwhelming; it would be easy to question how I could make a difference at all.
But for me I just look at the faces of our girls. They are what matters. I can make a difference for them. I look at our staff and envision them growing and excelling. I remember that it's all about the ones.
I continue to smile. I continue to laugh. I see the funny side of the language barrier. I giggle when the power goes out in the middle of my shower and I run into numerous walls trying to get it back on. I am still amused about the fact that a moto is Cambodia's version of a family car - five people on one is no problem at all. I laugh at myself when my Khmer is completely wrong and I have no idea what I've just said.
I'm determined to make a difference here. I'm a fighter, a carer, a listener. But I'm also a smiler. And I will continue to be. I will continue to appreciate the little things. I will continue to smile.