10/12/2011 8:58 PM PDT
I haven't written anything for a long time. It's been several months since I last posted on what is going on over here.
As many of you know my wife and I live in Cambodia. We moved here from Palm Springs a couple of years ago. My wife teaches English to children living in a relief center, sort of an orphanage. Some of the kids contracted polio, some were born without limbs. Others were abandoned by their parents. And we have others who are true orphans, while a few come from families too poor to care for them. One lost a leg to a landmine. There used to be 18 landmine victims here. Thankfully the number of causlties is dropping. But 1 out of every 290 people in this country is a landmine victim. the kids go to school every day and are tutored at the center. They sleep 3 or 4 to a room and pass down their clothes as they outgrow them. One child told us she used to have nothing, and now she has everything.
I work with, and for, a man who became a soldier at the age of 10 and fought for 12 years in 3 different armies. The common weapon to all was the landmine. Today I help raise money, and work with his de-mining organization. We call ourselves Cambodian Self Help Demining. We are made up of ex-child soldiers, widows, single mothers, single fathers, farmers, small villagers and university graduates; all working to make their country safe for their families, friends and countrymen.
Our Operations Manager was the 2nd woman to graduate from high school and college in her village. In high school she lived in a room with 6 girls, went to school 6 hours a day before working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for $20 a month. She found a scholarship for college. While there she came to work for us. We pay a liveable salary. She was able to bring her 2 siblings to town and give them money so they go to school without working. She worked for us 6 days a week (the norm here), went to school full time, helped pay off her parents debt, and did volunteer work. When she graduated she decided to clear landmines in small villages and help empower women. She just built a library in her home village and is raising $3,000 for a kindergarten.
She is 24 years old.
I was home for a while this past summer and was stunned at the venality and anger running rampant in America today. We can make this world and our country better if we put forth a bit of effort and work together. No one is perfect. No one has all the answers.
We are one people. It is time we remember that and work to solve some problems together.