Categories
Blog

Five Scoops In a Sweet Submarine Roll

The ice-cream man drove his cart into the compound at A New Day Cambodia and the kids – in their new red hats gifted by parting Australian expats – quickly and quietly lined up for a treat.IMG_2870

He sliced open a sweet submarine roll, spooned in five scoops of what looked like ice-water, poured a dollop of condensed milk over the concoction and handed it to one kid after another. The staff also had ice-cream sandwiches made for those who were away on work experience so they wouldn’t miss out. The cost for each of these ohhy-gooey taste-treats that I didn’t want to try?  A mere 25 cents.

IMG_2871

An hour later, Alex – a young woman from Australia – Todd – the Down in the Dumps official photographer – and I piled back into the tuk-tuk. I rang Vichika and told her to get the kids organized to meet us at the communal spot. The ice-cream man tucked in behind us and we headed for Steng Meanchey.

IMG_3730

Vickika took over as is her natural-leader manner and the kids lined up. The ice-cream man did his bit; she poured on the condensed milk and passed it to the next one in line.

Photo credit: Todd Black
Photo credit: Todd Black

The word got out and the kids started running in from all directions. Alex just missed a shot of a kid coming in on full tork.

IMG_3732

Some adults – like the guy who is generally stoned out of his tree on whatever substance he happens to be abusing that day – borrowed a baby and got into line. As the people walked by, they thanked us. One older woman came up while I was talking with a kid who wanted to practice his English. He told me she was very thankful as it was the first thing she had eaten that day. I told her to go back for another one.

_DSC3605

 

 

 

 

 

There were smiles all around and the food helped create a feeling of camaraderie.

_DSC3626

It cost $38 to make 152 people’s day a touch brighter. Bargain. We will do it again.

_DSC3561About the only downside is that I’m going to have to do some damage control to re-establish my child-hating reputation.

The Next Project: Chickens

My friend Christine from Australia made a donation. So did an anonymous donor – who told me she would give me a spanking if I mentioned her name – so we have close to $800 in the Down in the Dumps fund. For a couple of hundred dollars we are going to start a chicken project.

Alex is going to do the reconnaissance work.

IMG_3733

Where to buy the cages and the food. How much does it costs for live ones? Then we will send Tuk-Tuk Nick out to get what we need as it will be much cheaper than having a white face buy the supplies.

Chickens are low-maintenance and there are a few scavenging around now.  More chickens will also help get rid of the debris and the proper food will make them healthier. The dump people can eat the eggs, sell the chickens or do whatever they want with them. Once the system is in place we can supply them with more chicks which are cheap-as-chips. They aren’t going to get rich as chicken-farmers, but it may help them get a bit of protein and some extra cash.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next episode of Down in the Dumps.

Categories
Blog

Life in the Cambodian Countryside

Sandan Svay comes from a small village about an hour from Phnom Penh.. Like the up-and-coming Cambodians of his generation, Sandan speaks English very well and is planing on taking another tourism course.

Sandan has a photographer’s eye and enjoys taking pictures of rural life in his hometown. This is his first exhibit. The photos have been left full size so you can appreciate the scope of his work. The text has been spliced in to provide a context.

Enjoy the exhibit, Jody

Life in the Cambodian Countryside

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children.

Dan 1

The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. Dan 3She She keeps many things on her bed because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren.Dan 4  She has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.Dan 2


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.Dan 5


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.

Planting rice is very difficult work. People have to work from dawn to dust. It is physically demanding and makes people very tired and sore. But if they don’t do the work they cannot eat.Dan 12Dan 13


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting vegetables is also hard work. But people do not mind too much because they get to eat them or sell them at the market.

In the vegetable garden.
In the vegetable garden.

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

Dan 9

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small house that is far from the village lives an old couple who don’t get any help from their children. The husband, Mr. Churn, is 72 years old and cannot work because he is sick all the time. His wife’s name is Sim. She is 69 years old and needs to work hard in the rice fields to make some money to support her husband and herself. They do not have any rice field, so it’s hard for them to live in the countryside. Here is her house next to the kitchen.


Mrs. Som is 76 years old. She uses her bed for many things because her house is a small one and she shares it with her daughter and five grandchildren. She is strong and still works hard every day. She plants some vegetables and then she sells them for money to help her daughter and the grandchildren. When she is hungry, she has to cook food for herself in the open kitchen. This is also the place for the cows to sleep.


This is the house of a HIV lady in my village. Her name is Pat, 42 years old. She cannot work and now she lives with her son at home. Her husband died six or seven years ago because of HIV. Then she sold her big house and bought this small one. Unfortunately, she was not at home when I took this photo.


This is the house of a poor family in my village. Mrs. Sor is the mother of four children. She cannot work because her health is not good. So she needs help from her husband who works in a construction site. He makes small money, as he does not have any skills for his work. Sometimes he breaks everything in the house when he gets drunk.


 

 

It’s a brilliant culture for people who live in the countryside. When you are busy preparing something for any special occasion, they will come to help you immediately. Some are good in cooking, so they will cook and some will help with cleaning or washing the soiled dishes or the pots and pans. They are helpful and it’s very hard to find this kind of friendliness in the city.

 

Life is good if we know how to make it good. Everyone of us has different conditions for our lives. Please enjoy and be satisfied with what we have got now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Blog

Srey Goes to School

IMG_2607For many people bureaucracy is overwhelming. And the further down the food chain the more intimidating it becomes, so by the time you get to the Steung Meanchey dump it is astronomical. Vichika, my friend and English-speaking contact, wanted to get her daughter, Srey, into school. Okay, we had a project. A mission. And this is when my natural control-freak inclination comes in handy; I just sort of stepped in and took over, bossy bitch that I am.

I heard about the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) through Alex, a 20-something Australian woman who is savvy about the NGO scene in Cambodia. Thim, a Khmer with excellent English skills called Vichika for me. She and the family would be available to go for an interview. “She is very excited about it,” Thim told me. “And she loves you so much.”

A couple of emails to Asha, the administrator, and she passed me on to Hoin, who is the Community Outreach Manager. We set up an appointment for Tuesday 9 July at 14:30. Next I linked up Nick our reliable tuk-tuk driver to ferry us around and to translate when needed. Hoin told me CCF was difficult to find so I loaded his number in my phone, made sure it was charged – me an’ mobiles have such a love/hate relationship – and off we went.IMG_2612

Vichika et al were waiting at the communal spot when we arrived. It was the first time I’ve met her husband, Sary. Then Nick called Hoin and we all piled into the tuk-tuk, a proverbial extended family of sorts.IMG_2627

Once there, the security guard let us in because I was white. No questions since I acted like I knew what I was doing, even though I really didn’t have a clue. Straight over to an official looking guy who ushered us in to see Hoin. I was so concerned about finding the place that we were 20 minutes early. Hoin circled the chairs and did a family interview. He recapped in English to tell me that Srey was the right age. “She is six and ready to start school, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If she were three or four it would be much harder.”

IMG_2616

Hoin then ushered us across the compound to a social worker who sat at an outside desk. He worked through a massive form with Vichika. It seemed to go on forever. The courtyard was full of women and children as CCF runs various programmes. The security guard sauntered through the crowd and handed me a bottle of water. Not knowing which of the 50 or 60 more-deserving people to give it to, I guiltily slid it into my handbag.

IMG_2609

Paperwork done, they weighted, measured and photographed Srey. Back at the tuk-tuk we woke Nick and climbed in for the return trip.IMG_2625

In reply to a thank-you email, Hoin said he would do his best to get Srey accepted. I have no doubt it will happen. So in October – when she turns six — Srey will be in the CCF programme. Yes.

She will live at home and every morning she will get into her little school uniform that is supplied, grab her books that CCF provides and head for school. She will study Khmer at the government school in the morning and English at CCF in the afternoon.

I’m very excited about Srey going to school, so I think I will buy her a book-bag as a present.

Categories
Blog

Christmas at the Dump

Nick – our one-and-only tuk-tuk driver – and I rocked up to an unsuspecting little shop; the owner thought all her Christmases had come at once. IMG_2467We stocked up on 45 presents – balls, stuffed toys, rubitz cubes, trucks, plastic badminton sets. A wild and wonderful variety of stuff for kids.

 

The hats and the balloons were a great hit and set a festive tone for the morning.

IMG_2481

IMG_2480

 

 

 

The kids were so excited because they have never had their very own personal toy before. Vichika lined them up and played Santa Claus.

IMG_2500

They squealed with delight when they got their presents.

Some promptly went home to stash them. Many of them shyly thanked me. It really was a heartening morning. And the total cost of bringing so much joy to such deserving kids was $140, gracias to the money donated by Iris and Dennis.

IMG_2511

 

IMG_2509

On the good news front, Vichika has a cleaning job at a factory not far from the dump. She makes $80 a month so life has gotten considerately easier and she doesn’t have to go and scavenge through the garbage every night. I’ve contacted the people at Cambodian Children’s Fund — https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/ – and will set up a meeting in the next week or so for Vichika and her daughter to visit. There are a couple of other dump kids I’d like to get into the residence there.

The last time we went to the dump Paul gave Vichika $20 to get some steps built for her shack.IMG_2515 There used to be a ramshackle door with a rotting piece of plywood over a hole and a couple of horizontal pieces of 1×2-s for traction to get in and out of the house. Take a look at the new-improved entrance.

The next visit will be with 50kg of rice and some tinned fish. We are also lining up an ice-cream visit for the 87 kids at A New Day Cambodia – cost about $27 – and then going on to the dump with the same treat for the kids there.

Down in The Dumps is such wonderful fun. It is humbling to see how much can be done with so little. IMG_2520

Cheers,

Jody, the honourary Christmas elf

Categories
Blog

“Life Is” by Daniel Rothenberg

According to photographer and philosopher Daniel Rothenberg,IMG_2337 “Life Is? Life is work. Life is struggle. Life is learning. Life is shopping, eating, moving from a to b and back again, all this and more, many times everyday. Life is fear. Life is hope. Life is play. Life is celebration. Life is friends. Life is family. Life is love. Life is what it is and if we try to be a quiet, gracefully involved witness, if we think like a child, every moment viewed with curiosity, then every moment will be a new one, unique and filled with wonderful elements for us to enjoy and grow from.IMG_2379IMG_2331

For me, photography is a community art, it is about the relationships between the subjects, the photographer, and the audience. When it works it opens awareness and understanding and respect and hopefully entertains too. It is about seeing the beauty, struggle, joy, and pain that makes up all our lives and trying to grow relationships through sharing these moments with others in images. It is an ongoing conversation.”IMG_2370IMG_2364

Daniel Rothenberg, a New York born (1959) and raised photographer, calls Phnom Penh home. After 20 years working in the art/design, camera, and production aspects of the independent film making world Daniel decided to move to Cambodia in the late 1990s to pursue some of his other passions, sculpture, photography, and his growing love for this healing land and her people.

IMG_2368IMG_2358

While living here, Daniel has worked with many great partners. Previous photo projects include work with Angkor Hospital for Children, Cambodian Living Arts, The Cambodian Youth Arts Festival, The Lake Clinic, Cambodian Childrenʼs Education Fund, Tiny Toones, Epic Arts, Phare Ponleu Selpak, and many many others.

 IMG_2363

Daniel Rothenberg

Categories
Blog

Down in the Dumps: Not An NGO

Frankly, when it comes to run-away self-importance, questionable office politics, general backstabbing, random empire building andIMG_2223 impressive inefficiency, non-government organizations (NGOs) often rival the most ineffective bureaucracies.

That said, the project of working with the people at the dump has no aspirations of expanding, setting up an office or doing any forward planning for grants. Rather we – that translates as whoever happens to be around that particular day – want to stay small and only work with people we know. Someone suggested I recruit volunteers to help out with organized programs. Given the choice between that and chewing on broken glass I would opt for the latter.

The administrative set-up for Down in the Dumps is slack. Nick is the official tu-tuk driver, Vichika is our person-on-the-ground and she gets five-percent for being our contact and distributor. Frankly, I wouldn’t have a clue about how to fairly divvy up 50 kgs of rice amongst the 35 households. My share is that I cover the costs of the tuk-tuk rides — $10 a visit – and the photographs. IMG_2191Other people involved include: Paul, who comes along to help and make the collages; Skip who offers ideas; and Todd, who is about to become our official photographer.

What does the Down in the Dumps do with the money we get? Although book-keeping doesn’t exist in my personal life, I am fastidious about accounting for every riel spent on the dump project.IMG_2204

When Bank Iris donated $400 we bought a 50 kg bag of rice and some fruit. The next time we showed up with some nutritious packages of seeds and nuts with packages that doubled as toys. We asked Vichika what she thought the people could use and she said “books.” Armed with the pictures of the kids, I marched into the bookshop and got an immediate 10 percent discount. With $261. left in the budget the request was for more rice, tins of fish and fruit for the kids. Tick. I divide the money into three runs – spreading it out over the next month or so – and we did the first one today and still have $171.IMG_2202

Then Dennis checked the shipping costs and found out it was cheaper – and easier – to send money than books. We tweaked the idea and he is now going to be a silent Santa. The kids at the dump don’t have any toys. There is one battered ball, but mostly they kick around an empty plastic water bottle. No dolls or trucks or skipping ropes. So his donation is going to make the 40 or so kids exceedingly happy.

What, exactly, can you do to help? Send $40 and we’ll take out a bag of rice with your name on it and send you the photo. Send $100 and specify that you want us to buy kids’ clothes. Done – complete with happy snaps. We don’t want massive donations that require tax receipts and accounting. Helping by dribs ad drabs is effective and doesn’t burden anyone with overwhelming responsibility. Nor does it create a dependency.IMG_2225

If you have $25,000 please send it to A New Day Cambodia. The people there run a low-overhead project, have the infrastructure in place and are doing great work. Check out A New Day Cambodia. Then continue on to the You Tube clip.  If you want a personal account of what life is like at the dump, click on Chen Sokha.

Join us for the Down in the Dumps project. You contribution will be gratefully received and you’ll have a photo to remind you that you made a donation that counted.IMG_2248

Donations can be made through Paypal (jh@j-hanson.com). Thank you.

IMG_2257

Categories
Blog

The Quest: life, land and loss in Cambodia” Exhibit Opening – 29 May 2013

“The Quest: live, land and loss in Cambodia”

On Wednesday 29 May 2013, John Vink’s exhibit of 30 pictures opened at Meta House. Vink has been documenting forced eviction in Cambodia for the last 11 years.

PicCollage
Collage credit: Paul Rolston

The exhibit hit a raw nerve as this is exactly what is going to happen to the people I’ve gotten to know at the old dump.

Photos from the "Quest for Land" exhibit.
Photos from “The Quest” exhibit.

As Lay Vichika said, “Yes. I’m worried. We don’t know when they are going to kick us out. And we have nowhere to go.”

Here is the link to the iPad app where you can order a copy of Vink’s 720 photographs that tell the story of the homeless and desperate in Cambodia.

IMG_2080
Tony and Scott at the opening.IMG_2095

And here is a clip from the invitation.

Magnum-photographer John Vink covered Cambodian land issues for the last 11 years. The work, about 750 photographs divided into 20 chapters and accompanied with a text by Robert Carmichael, was bundled last year in an app for the iPad, called ‘Quest for Land’.

 For the first time in Cambodia, a selection of 30 photographs will be exhibited at Meta.

At 8PM, we’ll screen Nana Yuriko’s CAMBODIA FOR SALE (2009, 57mins, Khmer/Engl.). The German filmmaker tells the powerful story of communities that struggle against forced evictions.

 

Categories
Blog

Visa Run to Chau Doc

The woman in the seat across from me calmly said, “I don’t know it you quite understand. I can’t swim and this is my worst nightmare.” Another whitecap slapped against the side of the glorified canoe riding low in the water and splashed over the top.

“If we go into the water,” and that was looking more likely by the minute,” put on a life jacket, grab onto the end of this wrapper and I’ll pull you to shore. I’m a strong swimmer.” Okay, so doing laps in the heated pools in Sydney don’t quite count. Neither does bobbing around in the waves on a couple of scuba dives, but I figured the exaggeration might help instil a bit of confidence. The wrapper would put some distance between us in case she panicked.

IMG_2031The Mekong River – about five kilometres across – was deserted. As the tropical storm approached the small boats headed for shore; they wouldn’t reappear until the wind and rain died down. The fat translator from Delta Adventure could call for help, but how quickly that would happen in Cambodia was hard to calculate. I figured we’d be in the water for a while, which wasn’t life threatening unless there were currents or undertows.

Why the Mekong?

IMG_2005
Off to an easy start.

We – 11 passengers and three crew members – had left Chau Doc about five hours earlier. I’d skipped across the border into Vietnam on a visa run the day before. After an interesting little exchange at customs they had finally issued a work permit. So, theoretically, now I can stay in Cambodia forever if I want to keep renewing my permit by the year. And I don’t even have to leave the country.

IMG_2065
Bailing with a bucket.

Flashing back to the situation on the boat, even though I don’t understand Khmer, I recognize panic in most languages. And the crew was worried as we were taking on water quickly. Boy-Rambo stripped off, disappeared into the hold and started to bail with a plastic bucket.

“Does anyone have any duck tape?” was the question from the engine room. Boy-Rambo bobbed up and tried to fix the sump-pump while the water continued to gush in. Actually no. I carry a few band-aids in my medical travel kit, but that wasn’t going to be much help.

“Expect the best, plan for the worst.” My neighbour had a zip-lock bag and I emptied mine so there was enough room for everyone’s passports.

“Is anyone here a good swimmer?” The guy in front of me volunteered so I figured it best if he took the zip-locks and I concentrated on the woman who couldn’t swim.

IMG_2062
Boy-Rambo in action.

Suddenly Boy-Rambo headed for the front of the boat, grabbed a package of cigarettes and turned around with a red lighter between his teeth. He bolted back to the engine room and disappeared into the hold. Hells bells, he was going to melt the plastic covering on the wires on the sump-pump to fuse them. And right next to where he was standing were five or six plastic jerry-cans of petro. The fat translator held the cover down to keep the wind from blowing out the flame.

Goody, goody. If the petro blew it would be like an exploding cigar in a black and white movie. While I often say I want a Muslim burial, ending up at sea like Osama Bin Laden wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The seconds ticked; the wind howled; the rain lashed; the boat bobbed.

But karma, good ju-ju and inshallah were all on our side. The sump-pump kicked in and we headed for the dock in Phnom Penh. The windshield wiper couldn’t clear fast enough, so one driver steered and the other held open the window so he could see where he was going.

IMG_2012
Phnom Penh comes into sight.

Fortunately now that I have a working permit stamped in my passport I don’t have to make a visa run every 90-days.

 

 

Categories
Blog

“Enter” by Anida Yoeu Ali

The exhibit by Anida Yoeu Ali opened at the InterContinental Phnom Penh on 16 May  2013. And everyone rocked up for the event.  Apologies for not being able to move, size or otherwise work with the photos. That is next week’s steep learning curve.

Scroll down for information on the artist. JH

IMG_1958-001 IMG_1959-001

IMG_1962-001 IMG_1963-001 IMG_1973 IMG_1974-001 IMG_1977-001 IMG_1978 IMG_1981-001 IMG_1995-001

As lifted from the opening announcement, “Anida Yoeu Ali is an artist whose works span performance, installation, video, poetry, public encounters and political agitation.

She is a first generation Muslim Khmer woman born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. After residing for over three decades outside of Cambodia, Ali returned to work in Phnom Penh as part of her 2011 Fullbright Fellowship

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to artmaking, her installation and performance works investigates the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity. From the Faroe Island to the Bronx, Copenhagen to Ho Chi Minh City, she lectures, exhibits and performs internationally. She is a collaborative partner with Studio Revolt, an independent artist run media lab in Phnom Penh, Cambodia”.

 

Categories
Blog

Books for the Dump Kids: A Photo Essay

$55 from “Bank Iris” bought a lot of books, markers, papers, crayons, posters and face-paint for the kids at the dump.

Apologies for the lop-sided photos. I need a 10-year old to give me a tutorial on how to load them properly. JH

IMG_1906IMG_1905IMG_1904 IMG_1924 IMG_1925 IMG_1929 IMG_1930 IMG_1931 IMG_1933 IMG_1940