Friday, September 26, 2008

I miss Medicare

Cervical cancer test I just read this article in the Phnom Penh post. I have been thinking about preventative medical stuff this week (vaccines, checkups ), and how rich/Western people think its important and spend money on it, but Cambodians generally live one day at a time.

I had 2 moles cut off yesterday at an expensive international clinic (one was bleeding, one the colour had spread). On a normal day I don't talk to any other expats, so the only people I've talked to about it so far have been Cambodians. Its a funny idea to them that I would go to the doctor when I wasn't even sick- and I wonder what they would think if they knew it cost more than my husband earns in a month?

The international doctor said it would be irresponsible not to send the moles to be examined as there is a 2% chance I will need more treatment. (We sometimes go to a Khmer clinic but for this I chose to go to the international one as I guess the Khmer doctor would have a different approach- eg- tell me to come back when I was actually sick).

But it does seem strange even to me to spend this money when there are a lot more serious medical problems all around such as people sick and dying from preventable diseases and malnutrition.

"I would rather die of AIDS in ten years than of starvation tomorrow". I heard someone say this once, they were quoting a sex worker in a developing country (in Africa?).

"Make sure you wear insect repellent all the time, you have to protect yourself from dengue fever." My travel doctor was advising me before I came to Cambodia for the first time about how to stay healthy. She said even though the local wouldn't be wearing repellent I should. Death and sickness is a way of life to them, but I'm a Western and I should keep myself healthy.

I remember wondering how that line of thinking would fit if those locals were my family (which they are now). And I think of that conversation when the topic of how Western Christian cross cultural workers should live when they are serving in developing countries. Live like the locals or like rich outsiders? (What kind of medical care should they have?)

These are just some random thoughts, I imagine I'll be thinking about this more in the years to come, I wonder what I'll be thinking? If you have any thoughts please leave a comment!

(And if you live in Cambodia and know of other good clinics let me know. Maybe I should look around and see what is available, maybe there is a cheaper place to go?)

Feeding the dead


When I’m in the traffic these days I see so many people dressed up in nice clothes carrying cylindrical containers. The women are all wearing lacy white tops and colourful silk skirts like they wear to weddings. What is happening?


In Cambodia right now, people are having a major religious festival, called Pjum Ben, when people go to Wat (Buddhist temple) to offer food for their dead ancestors, whom they believe to become hungry souls (called Pret), kept and tortured in hell, and allowed to come to earth only 15 days a year, that is, these last 2 weeks. The hungry souls will go around to 7 Wats to eat food offered by their living relatives. If they find food they will bless their family, if not they will curse. This is very important festival. People are making sure that they take food to a Wat at least once. Please pray for Cambodian Christians that we would stand firm and remain faithful to God, and not being tempted to do otherwise. Pray for those who are being forced to offer food to Wat or insulted by their family or relatives, that they too will have wisdom to do what is right before God.

Gifts for Ghosts photo in PP Post

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Driving lessons

Earlier this year I had driving lessons at a driving school in town. I did the ten hours of driving lessons but haven’t done much since. I’m not ready for the exam- need to do lots more practise but not sure how.

Soeun has his driving license and we asked the driving school about the laws. If Soeun is in the car with me can I drive around Phnom Penh to practise driving? Her answer was something like, there is no rule about it, just try to do it on the outskirts of town. I think the general gist was its ok as long as the police don’t see you, (the general gist of lots of answers). People drive around without car or moto license but I think as a foreigner I’d be more noticeable.

Anyway, recently we had a rare Saturday- Soeun was free all day! Usually he meets for music in the morning at a friends church, then goes to youth group at his church in the afternoon (and finishes off his sermon if he is preaching the next day.) But the Saturday in question his music group and youth group weren’t meeting, and his sermon was done. So we spent some time on campus with the car, me behind the wheel practising parking mainly.Hopefully when the roads dry up Soeun will have another free Saturday for more driving lessons.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Her old high school, a place of torture

On Sunday we drove a lady home from church, on the way we went past an old high school and she commented that is where she studied before Pol Pot time.

Phnom Penh was emptied of people by the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. While most people lived and died in rural parts of Cambodia this Phnom Penh high school this lady went to was turned into a prison and place of torture. About sixteen thousand people died there.

Today it is a museum, I’ve been a few times. You can walk through the building and see photos of the people they killed, torture instruments, cells where they kept people, some made from wood, some brick. Another part shows a big room where the prisoners where kept, not in cells, but chained together on the floor.

For more see:
Look for S-21 on this website
photos by Ang

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It is a....

Thanks for guessing the photo, here are your guesses.......

-looks like a pot for a cold liquid or a grain, the stand appears to be made from old car tyres.

-A cauldren for selling hot breakfasts out of?

-some kind of cooking pot next by the side of a road

-looks like a witch's cauldron

Hmmm... a cauldon for making love potions (the agreed method for moving along someone who doesn't agree to their arranged marriage). And yes, I have been reading Harry Potter this afternoon.

A pot for lighting a fire in when there's a blackout so commuters on the road can see.

An old pot that the government has seconded to use as a road sign (I see something spray painted on it...)I'm out of guesses.

It looks to us like it's made of rubber--old bike tires and such. Craig thinks it might be an oversized chamber pot.

Either a garbage bin to keep the vermin out or a snake chalmers pot to keep his pet in.

I also think it's a dunny (like Craig) but perhaps it's made out of an old bomb or something from war times??

And the winner is..... Claude- yes it is a rubbish bin! Usually when we put the rubbish out to be collected we just use plastic bags and leave them on the side of the road to be collected. Thats handy for people who want to look through your rubbish to find something to eat or sell. Its also handy for rats who are looking for a place to hang out. So this bin, made from old tyres makes the side of the road a much nicer place!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Our noodles"

I finally found some Mee Yerng for sale. A new product, Cambodia’s own instant noodles. Soeun really wanted to try some but everywhere has been out of stock, it seemed like everyone wanted to try some.
So this morning Soeun had Mee Yerng for breakfast and said “chnoi chnang” (food that t smells and tastes good).

Friday, September 05, 2008

What is this?

Can you guess what this is? What is it used for? What is it made from?
Please email or leave a comment on the blog. (Only real guesses- if you are in Cambodia or have been to Cambodia and you know keep it a secret!)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hard life.. beads.. etc

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how hard people's lives are. So many people are so poor and life is hard for lots of reasons. I find it hard to explain this to people in Australia. I recently read a story about one lady and I would like to share it with you. It is on a blog of a fellow Aussie who lives in a remote part of Cambodia. Click here to read.

People work so hard just to earn enough to feed their family, to get by each day. The blog author has been doing things with beads and ironing plastic bags, in order to help this lady and others. Have a read! She also mentions she needs help, so please leave a message on her blog if you think you can help.
Ironing plasic bags and other creative past times.
Busy beads...
And for the latest click here.
To read about rat meat- click here

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sound System

While the students are on their long summer break, Teacher Soeun has lots of different jobs to do. Planning lessons, translating a book and helping set up the new sound system in the school hall.

And there has been lots of moving going on. Our neighbours moved out, and new ones moved in. Likewise with Soeun's office mates.
We felt like we were on the ark one night. Our old neighbours had moved out and the new ones hadn't moved in yet. Our other neighbours had gone to stay at a friends place- the flood was almost in their house, I think they packed up all their furniture in case the stinky water came inside. So as we looked out the front door after dinner there were no signs of people, just lots of water.
The water has gone down heaps now. I'm pretty sure there are less mozzies around than when we had a similar thing happen last year. I think because there was more water, enough for fish to swim.