Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Part II - New Hope Village

I FINALLY got a somewhat representative shot of the "bus" of folks traveling along the road from Phnom Penh to Kompong Speu today. It's not great, but I hope this helps with my inadequate description from the other day. Oddly, the rest of the road in this photo seems clear of other vehicles. This is NOT typical. Imagine this same shot, but add a few more motorbikes, a motorbike hauling a few pigs in pokes, a family of 4 riding like a pyramid on their moto (only the driver wearing a helmet, the rest bareheaded and the youngest toddlers standing on their mother's lap so that they can get a view of the street) as well as some trucks, regular bikes and a truck or two spewing diesel fuel with people sitting on the top. If you can imagine that you get the whole scene....

Sunday afternoon afforded us a little time to head about 15 minutes away from our school in KS over to the New Hope for Cambodian Children Village. I think it was supposed to have taken 15 minutes, but we got lost on some dirt roads, ran smack in to a dead-end with a pagoda and realized that we had taken a wrong turn. Our substitute driver (Program Manager Ken was sick today) kept calling sick-Ken to get directions. I wish I could explain it better - but remember that we are off the paved streets, we are back amongst the rice fields and farms. The road is single lane, hole pitted, dirt. There are no street signs, no road markers, nadda. Sub-driver had a "map", but for the life of me I don't know what he was using to determine where he was. The funniest thing was that he would not stop and ask any of the villagers for directions. Typical man. But indeed, we reversed our direction - took a "right" instead of a "left" and an arbitrary fork in the road and made it to New Hope. (Note: Yes, sub-driver had a cell phone. In fact, lots of Cambodians do. There is no electricity past about 500 yards from the main road, there is no water, no sewer, no other utilities, but there is cell phone reception. You can't see in the dark past 8:30 p.m., you have to go out to the woods to do your business, you need to haul up water from your well - but, hey! You can make a call on your cell phone while you are doing all that)

All I can say about this place is it is a veritable power-house of an NGO. In three years, a couple of ex-catholic missionaries (still catholic, but no longer missionaries) have managed to put together the largest HIV/AIDS village in Cambodia. They have an amazing paradigm. Bill Clinton supplies all the meds. They got funding to buy 21 acres. The built 8 pods of buildings. Each pod has several sleeping dorms connected to kitchens. They have enough pigs to supply all the methane gas they need. (Although I have to say that when we were touring one of the pig houses, they were cleaning out the pig-pooh to make the pig-pooh-water that creates the methane gas and I nearly puked as the shovel of pig-pooh passed too near my face - no farmer am I!) In addition, they raise something like 2000 chickens a cycle and sell them to KFC (while keeping the ones they need to eat). The kids are loved and hugged and it's like a giant family.

In a million years, this is not what Camtom is going to be doing - but it was one of the best "field trips" I have ever taken. They are awesome. Check out their website if you get a chance. This is an organization that is 100% HEART.

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