On the road again. Moving my furniture and myself from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a shifting new journey.
And so ends the final week of my volunteer placement. After a bit over 14 months, I’m finishing up the final details of a year that has whizzed by. A year that has drastically altered my life and taken me in a new direction.
I’m in a van with all my belongings en route to Siem Reap, the land of Angkor Wat and the heart of the Kingdom of Wonder. I have about 5 more hours on a bumpy road that I think will be the end of my wine glasses.
Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves’.
– Lao Tzu Continue reading
Categories: Development, Personal, Volunteer
Tags: Angkor Wat, Burma, Cambodia, civil society, Cuso International, Myanmar, peace building, Siem Reap, volunteer
Land-grabbing is such a tragic activity in developing countries. A land grab is essentially a large-scale acquisition of property, either buying or leasing, by a company, government, or person. We are talking the big boy elite here. Step back and imagine you are living off the land. Maybe land-ownership isn’t a clear concept to you, or maybe you just assume the land is yours. Your family might have been there for generations. You might have your house, your farm, your animals. But one day some agents for the big boys come and tell you it’s time to go. A foreign company is setting up a serious cash crop enterprise or a big tourist resort that doesn’t need you or your chickens. Or a well-financed project is about to come and take all the timber that lays between vast parcels that your house happens to sit on. Maybe you receive some compensation for your loss, but you quickly find out you aren’t going to go far on that once you’re homeless and have no land to cultivate. Continue reading
Sometimes innovation is simple. This hospital provides mosquito nets, cooking facilities, and clean water in the waiting room where some patients wait overnight.
When you think about healthcare in a developing country you probably imagine pretty rudimentary equipment, long waits, questionable doctors, and lots of other challenges that might put your health at risk. I can’t deny that much of Cambodia might fulfil that vision. Healthcare is really a huge issue here. Even for me, if anything major comes up I will be whisked away to Thailand for proper treatment. But where does that leave the common Cambodian? I have heard many stories of people who simply died because they could not get to any facility. Clinics are popping up around the country, often funded through development aid projects. But building a clinic in a rural area doesn’t always override major obstacles. Continue reading
In Cambodia, like many development aid recipient countries, a ‘per diem’ allowance to participate in a workshop can be a major incentive for attendance.
Unlike many of my colleagues working with grassroots in the field, this is an issue that I haven’t reflected much upon before coming to Cambodia. As an employee, I’ve received ‘per diem’ allowances for lots of travel with organisations. Per diem is the term used to call a set amount of money that has been calculated to cover expenses for work-travel. Sometimes that amount includes accommodations, food, transportation, incidentals, or a combination of these expenses. If I think back to some of my per diems, they were often very generous. I might not have been able to spend the full amount even if I tried. Continue reading
Categories: Development, Volunteer
Tags: accountability, accounting, Cambodia, corruption, development, international aid, participatory approach, per diems, project management, sustainability, transparency, travel expenses, workshops