Day 103 - 11th June 2019
I am less than 2 months away from my departure of Cambodia, and as time runs on I have began pondering about home. More specifically I think about what I will take home with me other than a great tan, luggage and souvenirs. Have I changed as a person? Are my outlooks on life different? Will I be happier? I believe and know that I am might return home and feel no different, being swept up by the cycle of the 9-5 toll, grey clouds and cold weather. But I don’t think it would do Cambodia, the time I have spent, the people I have met and the memories formed any justice.
I am lucky enough currently to be in a place where the sun always shines. It gets extremely hot and I see the devastating nature of drought, but I am lucky enough not to face that. I am at a unique place in my life where I can enjoy these things. I still find myself staring at the scenery and at fishermen and farmers. These things seem new to me, even 4 months on. I can only imagine the pain they must go through. I regularly see the effects of drought, hunger, starvation and poor sanitation in the clinic. These people are tough and at a ground level have to face the elements. This is new to me. Back in England, we grimace when we see rain, all tucked in cosy in our rooms, with a choice to either walk or take the car.
I also enjoy sitting and watching great clouds form overhead. I feel awake when the clinic rocks and sparks of light illuminate my world for seconds at a time during thunder storms. I love watching the cows relax, the cranes fly and the fish pop up to the surface of the murky water. I am delighted to tuck into fresh rice and succulent sweet fruit. I love my team and the people I have met here.
I hope that on cold winter days when my alarm shrieks at me, ordering me to wake up, that these memories will bring some warmth within.
Day 108 - 16th June 2019
I believe if you’re truly lucky, you will meet people like Jon once or twice in your life
Someone to shake your consciousness and way of living
Someone that exudes love and vibrates with my own way of thinking
I’ve learnt more being around Jon than many libraries of books
Funny, witty, intellective and a joy to be around
Oh I wish I met him sooner but grateful that I ever got to meet him at all
Day 112 - 20th June 2019
Being here for around 4 months now, I can safely say that voluntary work is somewhat addictive. There is a great energy luring me to stay here or go to other nations and help them as much as I can. Maybe it’s because I see change first hand. Maybe because my help makes a bigger difference in places where people have no help at all. The journey back to my home in England edges closer in time, yet a fear within me builds everyday. I fear that a large dark void will being to stir within me as soon as my feet touch home soil. I fear as time continues to run on, the void will consume me totally. I fear I will be in guilt and somewhat disgusted by the greed and wastefulness that the West relies and identifies itself with. I fear grey uprising buildings with a background of more grey. I fear not being as useful as I could be.
I feel like this would be a common issue faced by volunteers returning back home. I have heard some say they cried at random moments on trains. Others moved back and never looked back. I understand that even in my society at home, people are suffering. We're all suffering. Maybe its up to me to alleviate some of that pain wherever I go. Or maybe I will be a compete mess when I land back home. Whatever it is, I know I will be a different person.
Day 117 - 25th June 2019
I enjoy seeing wild water buffalo. They seem to stand out yet also fit with their surroundings. Be like water buffalo.
Day 121 - 29th June 2019
Currently waiting to catch a flight to Phnom Penh. I will only be staying for one night, my main purpose being to visit the Killing Fields and S21 prisons. These places are historical genocide centres showing and explaining the atrocities that went on during the Khmer Rouge period. Previous to my visit to Cambodia, I read the Survival in the Killing Fields by Dr Haing Somnang Ngor - I was moved and brought to tears a few times whilst reading this first hand account of the genocide. I wanted and needed to visit these places described in the book and to see locations of what my imaginations had painted.
I believe humankind must have times where we are sombred and sobered by the darkness of our past. To learn what not to do but also to learn the evil capabilities that loiter within.
Day 122 - 30th June 2019
I visited the Killing Fields and S21 prison yesterday (Choeung Ek Genocidal Center and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, to give them their official names) and needed some time to reflect on what I had seen and experienced before writing this entry. As like everyone who has visited both sites I was shocked and horrified at the atrocities that human beings are capable of inflicting on each other. Primarily two moments of my trip stuck out in my mind.
Firstly whilst at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center we were lead to a tree (via audio tour) where children were swung and smashed against head first. Visitors who first found the tree explained that they had seen remnants of teeth, brain and bone on the bark and didn’t know when it was from. They uncovered the mass grave next to this tree to uncover hundreds of dead children, babies and women. I kept on visualising this scene and stood in shock unknown what I would have done if I had witnessed this in real life. The tree still stands there today .
The second moment was when I walked through one of the floors in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This floor had rooms with makeshift wooded boxes brought in as prison cubicles. People were tortured here naked and sometimes asked to lick their own excrement off the floor. Walking through here I could hear the screams, moans and violent beatings. I couldn’t imagine the pain that these people went through, for no apparent reason and with no one to help them.
The utter hopelessness of the situations I had witnessed really affected me.
Sometimes when learning history, you forget that the people involved at the time did not have hindsight or any knowledge of things to come. They were unaware of their future. One day they were happy and the next being torn apart from their family and tortured. I realised small changes and environmental/cultural/political/scientific movements carried us forward as a human race. And before you know it we are either moved towards suffering or development. All we can do is learn from the past. Events like this should never be repeated again.