Week 7

So this week I ended up on a total of 3 committees: CAD, as before, debrief – organising our final week, in Kampong Cham, full of reflective sessions and goodbyes – and Media, promoting the team through the VSO Cambodia page and compiling a ten-minute video on our placement. So the work has been exciting and varied: I’ve been filming and running around Siem Bouk play-acting as a documentary producer, doing even more risk assessments and cash requests, as well as running our own English club in schools. I even dropped by infrastructure team briefly to measure out some wood, and spent an evening painting bookshelves.
The English club is great fun and a refreshing opportunity to be a little more involved in delivering the sessions: my role has been upgraded from peace-keeper and funny-face-maker to one of an actual facilitator and I feel like the kids know me a little better. The work has otherwise been very much similar to before; coming back to the office after a few days away has been difficult for everyone, and took a toll on teamwork but everyone’s dedication to the program has meant issues have been resolved peacefully.

 

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Children in a nutrition session run by awareness team

 

On Friday morning I was woken up by a surprise. I trudged as normal, bleary eyed, to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I shut the door and began, but as I turned around I found I was in company: a rather large scorpion was chilling just 30 cm from my bare feet. My adrenaline-fuelled brain began ransacking any knowledge I might have of scorpions: do they jump? Are they aggressive or just attack when provoked? I recalled from somewhere that supposedly the larger their claws the less poisonous their sting, and his claws were fairly large, but I had no idea how useful or true that fact was. I opened the door and called to my host-mother; looking in she laughed (as she does in any situation) and reached around to get a knife from the kitchen. Still chuckling merrily, she hacked the scorpion in two – it takes a few goes to get through their armour – scooped it up and tossed it out the window! It seems you are never far from a scorpion in Cambodia, and I seem to be quite the magnet to their presence – the next day a small, and thankfully dead, one was resting close to me on my bed.

 

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Our project assistant painting bookshelves

The weekend was fantastic; on Saturday we spent the morning fishing rather unsuccessfully. The sun was beating down on us as we went to a local reservoir, with bamboo rods crafted by one of the Khmer volunteers. There were fish around, identifiable by bubbles and the fact the bait was often stolen; however no fish were caught. A few local boys who joined us jumping in to the lake and messing with our lines probably did not help our chances of a catch.

The next day a quiet day ended with us dining once again at one of the host homes. We had the same Laos dish of hotpot, an elaborate soup with vegetables an fish tossed in, and rice. My host brother and some of his friends ate with us. We danced together afterwards to some of our favorite Khmer tunes, much to the delight of the host family who now own many embarrassing videos of the team.

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Idyllic fishing
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