Saturday, September 29, 2012

Maths in Cambodia

I've done a brave thing - well, at least that's what people tell me. I've moved to Cambodia. I've given up my job an the ensuring benefits, put my mortgage on hold, rented my place, and said "see you soon" to my boyfriend, family and friends. All so I can travel to another country and help, in a really frustratingly small way. A lot of people have said its something special and they're right - its special but not because of what I'm doing for Cambodia, but what it's going to do for me. I've been here 12 hours so far and I can already tell its going to be life-changing/affirming.

The trip was almost too easy... With the support of my org and flights that ran on time, I feel a little spoilt. We (me and four other vols) were greeted at the airport with a garland of fresh flowers each. SPESH! Then ushered into two vans, given fresh water and delicately delivered to our hotel. EASY.

So far I've supped and sipped my way around the block and was even able to indulge in staying connected with Australia by watching a football grand final. It feels like a nicely organised holiday - but soon, that will end.

I was told yesterday that my accommodation for my work placement has no electricity and no running water. It will be bucket baths for me - what a bloody visual. Me, hunched over a plastic tub, devoid of dignity, weeping and trying to clean myself with a soiled cloth and cupped hands... Eeeeek. One the plus side, it's what I've been after - a shake up of my life so that, like an etcha sketch, my life and mental state will be clean and full of potential. And like supermodel/entrepreneur Giselle, I will also be tanned and exotic.

In summary:
Cambodian Danielle = (giselle bundchen + etcha sketch) x aid work

Thank you Maths B.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hi... How much do you weigh?

I'm moving to Cambodia on Thursday. Holy smokes! I'm going to volunteer for an aid org which basically makes me one of the single greatest and most enormously selfless people you've ever had the great fortune to read a blog by - yes, please feel free to applaud. I honestly can't wait. I've needed a challenge in my life for so, so long that I'm desperate for a new scene. I figure moving to a new country, working in a rural area, not knowing a word of Khmer and leaving my boyfriend, family and gorgeous friends is INDEED a challenge.

From what I understand though, cambodia isn't that tough a place to be in... Beautiful people, amazing scenery, a mix of fascinating history including years of pain and genocide. It will be amazing but I'm aware of one thing - in going to Cambooge, I'm going to expose myself to the very blunt scrutiny of the locals who will not hesitate to start a conversation with "you're so faaaaat!". Daily. No, scratch that, it will happen every five minutes. I remember this from living in Hong Kong and it only got more invasive when people realised I was not only fat but had a black boyfriend!! One of the current volunteers has emailed me to say most conversations with her work colleagues begin with them asking how much she weighs... Hmmmm. So do I lie? That's the question. Obviously it's just a number (the logical part of my brain says) and it may not mean much to whoever is asking me, but frankly, I don't want to keep saying it. I mean, it's not just a number to me! It's a large part of what I feel worst about. It would have been nice to escape it for a while... I guess all I can hope is that I get enough food poisoning that the number reduces? Or there's enough personal growth that I grow to genuinely not care.

Speak to u soon from PP.