One morning the bulldozers rolled in and leveled a number of the tin and scrap-wood shacks in one section of Stung Meanchey. The dump people are squatters and have no rights. They salvaged as much as they could in a couple of hours and found people to stay with until they could build shanties further to the back.
What used to be the “community centre” – read a wobbly old wooden table to sit on and a hammock in the corner with a chunk of tin for a roof – disappeared. One of the recently homeless slapped some tin on the poles and it became a house. So much for communal space. The people at the zoo want to do follow up activities with the kids; a German couple are scheduled to do a shadow puppet performance. The only place to meet is on the road and that isn’t viable.
After a consultation with our dump advisers it was decided to build a new table with an overhang on a chunk of ground that had to be cleaned up and leveled. Vichika can use it for her breakfast business from 06:00 until the rice runs out.
I had heard from Nick and the German people that the new community centre was impressive. But when we rocked up I couldn’t quite believe it. Amazing. The trash was cleared away, the ground was leveled and lots of people use it for lot on things, including afternoon naps and kids swinging in the hammock. There is a sense of communal pride about this latest development as it is “ours”. $200 well-spent DITD dollars did it.
The Medical Clinic
Good thing the community centre was built last week as the royal we – me being useless as things medical are not my forte – needed it for a medical clinic this week. And we had two nurses. Jirah will be living in Phnom Penh for the next few months and she will do more clinics. The Nurse – as we call Karen Owens – will be moving here at the end of April because she got an impressive Director of Nursing job at the up-market Khema Clinic. We’ve been friends for 19 years dating back to the University of Waikato days. She was the only one who showed up at my 50th in Timbuktu. As an aside, remember to mark Kampala 24 January 2023 in your diary for my 70th.
After the dump we went to check on the people at Nick’s – the official DITD tuk-tuk driver and translator – compound.
Thanks to donations from Jeanne, Molly, and The Nurse – and after another micro-loan – we now have $371.20 in the DITD fund. Stay tuned to this blog to find out how I spend it. Cleo in Australia donated kids’ clothes and shoes that The Nurse brought with her. As a result there are a lot of happy rug rats running around looking very stylish.
Jody the child-hater