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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There were smiles all around and the food helped create a feeling of camaraderie.
It cost $38 to make 152 people’s day a touch brighter. Bargain. We will do it again.
About 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.
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.