Thursday, August 23, 2012

Water Filter Kick-Off Event

Today was the day we started our clean water training in the village of Prek Pneu. 2Five2 hosted a Community Kick-Off Event to train village members on why it is important to drink clean water and how that will help keep their family healthy and ultimately safe. We had around 300-350 people attend our workshop and learn for the first time how they can get clean water and what it will do for them and for their children. This hour long workshop was extremely exciting for Asian Hope as the idea of this entire community having clean water is a dream we had several years ago.

This kick-off event is meant to be a time for people to become aware of this importance and to generate interest in buying a water filter. Starting on Monday our staff will go household to household doing individual training on how to use the filter and offering the opportunity for families to buy a filter for only $2.50 and Asian Hope will cover the remaining $10 cost. For some families they have been saving their money for the past few weeks in hopes to be able to buy a filter and begin a life of drinking clean water.

Today at school a student told us that every day he doesn't buy his snack in the afternoon so he can give him mom the extra 100 Riel (about 2 cents) so they can save together to get a filter for their home. It is so awesome to see these children learning of this importance and helping their families as best as they can. We couldn't be more proud of everything they are learning!

So next week begins the process of distributing these filters to the village, a lengthy and quite challenging process so please keep us in your prayers this week!

Pictured above: Our awesome pink and orange tent for the training, our Program Coordinator, Chanrith, talking to the crowd, and the training on how to use and clean the filter.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bags of Fried Rice

I know we send loads of thank you email, notes, and posts about how grateful we are for those that support us, and yet again we are going to do another.

One day this week when I came home from work I saw the dinner that was prepared for us, fried rice, and noticed the mass amount that was made for just Chris and I to eat.  After dinner we decided that we would go give the rest away to our neighbors that need it.  Just a 30 second walk around the corner is a community of people (10 families or so) that live in metal shacks (literally scrap pieces of metal held together by wire) as they work on a construction project right above them.  They live in the type of poverty you see on TV, no shelter from the floods, no electricity, one set of clothing, and often go without food, and when there is food it is cooked upon an open fire in the street.

I walked over and gave each of the families that were out a bag of rice, big enough to feed several people (as we had just learned), exchanged a few smiles and began to walk away.  One woman called out to me and said "we didn't have any fish tonight, so thank you." I then left and prayed for them in the walk home, to ask the Lord to continue to provide them food.

I say this whole story because many of you help us have a nice home and protection of the rains, abundant food supply, and help us employee a wonderful woman who will cook us heaps of fried rice.  Because of your generosity we have enough food for ourselves and for our neighbors. 

We often talk about the mass amount of need in this country, and many of you have made the sacrifice to help us stay here and meet some of those needs.  Many of you have made the gut check call of giving away your hard earned paycheck to buy meals for us, pay our rent, buy the gas for our moto, and allow us to leave when we think we might go crazy.  It makes me teary thinking you do that for us, and do that for Christ.

Thank you for joining with us, thank you for feeding our neighbors this week, they are very grateful!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Few Changes

Since being back in Cambodia we have noticed a few changes that occurred in our two months away.  First a massage parlor opened up literally right next door.  This was a big concern for us when we pulled up to our house for the first time late on a Saturday night.

Here in Cambodia many businesses like massage places, hair and nail salons, and karaoke bars are not actually for their listed services but rather serve as brothels or places where sex can be bought.  So when we arrived at midnight to find 6 men standing outside our front door and a new massage sign posted, we were worried.  However, over the last couple of weeks we have gotten to talk with our new neighbors a bit and found that they might actually just give hand, foot, and back massages.  We sure hope so, as we desire our neighborhood to be free of such evil.

On our first trip out the next day we also discovered that a stop light is being installed on our street!  This is great news as traffic at this 3-way intersection is typically horrific right when we are trying to come home from work.  This addition could swing three different ways 1) people obey the light and it will make the commute to and from our house much easier.  2) People don't know why or how to obey the light, and it causes even more chaos and longer waits than what we knew before.  3) The light timing is poorly done, again causing long waits that then will cause people to get impatient and run the reds. 

We'll see how it goes...

Lastly, the dirt roads in Prek Pneu were paved!  This so far has been a great change as the road is much much easier to drive on.  However, community and flood planning is never done, so I am a tad worried about what these new cement roads will do to the community when the rains and floods come.  Wherever the ground is lower is where the water will go, and now no one has any idea who is higher and who is lower.  It could get interesting come October...

All the changes are fun to be back in, and we have enjoyed the last two weeks of receiving greetings from tuk tuk drivers, shop owners, moto repair men, and many more as they are excited to see us again since our long leave.  We feel loved and we feel like we are home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moto horns, stomach gurgles and white rice.

Back in Cambodia. Back to the heat, back to the wonder, back to the early mornings and dog-filled streets. Back to warm showers without a hot water heater, back to not being able to drink from the tap and wondering if our meal will come back to dominate us. Back to stomach aches, the "Cambodias" as we call the constant gurgling of our bellies. Back to white rice, always. Back to the motos, and horns and close calls and video-game driving. Back to the dust and rain and dusty-rain.

Back to a place where need is so abundant and meeting that need is so simple. Back to a place that we love, a place that is really our home and really where we want to be.

We have felt somewhat odd over the past few days. People who have lived here a long time call it being "chameleon-y." Meaning that we were able to dive right back into a place that, though our home for two years, is still so foreign. Having conversations in Khmer, knowing where to shop, eat and rest. Knowing which temperature on our air-con unit that will make us sleep well and what hour to turn on the TV to watch the American team compete in England while we cheer in Asia at just the right time. We know all of this, and we love it.

This is not to say that we have forgotten about America. Far from it, but it is incredible how people can be so good at living in two worlds. We have a life here now, a home, a community and connections. We know the right woman to buy our eggs from, the number of calories to eat in order to not crash in the afternoon heat and what someone from America is capable of doing in Cambodia in a 24-hour day - which turns out to be not a whole lot.

All of this goes to show our emotions right now. We left America, tearfully and nervously but we landed in Cambodia with excitement and comfort. We are happy to be back, excited and energized. We love and appreciate all of the people we saw in America, the people who supported us, housed us, fed us or those who generously did all of the above.

We are back. Happy and healthy. Ready to start another year of learning, serving, laughing at our life and at the differences we have with our Cambodian friends. Ready to wake up early and get home late. Ready or not, here we go.