Our last day here in Pursat Province and the Toul Khmer Learning Center. Another long hot and productive day. Even though we all kind of creaked and moaned a bit while getting into the van this morning.
Before we got a running, er, pained walking start on the brick laying, we took a walk around the local homes of the village area. Next time you think you are in the middle of no where, your wrong. I found no where. I pasted the middle of no where kilometers back and took a left at past middle of no where and kept driving to get here. The village is spread out over a larger area but homes tend to be built close together, kind of sub villages. We spoke with a grandmother raising her 3 grandchildren, on literally nothing. Once or twice a year some of her other family bring her about $2-$4 but beyond that, completely her. She showed me how she gathered grass from the fields to weave it into a type of grass shingle to cover her home. She said the grass cuts her hands every time but it is best for rain and keeps her home cooler that the ones with tin roofs. Call that the best person in the world to find a silver lining…..
We continued to work on the walls of the kitchen. I do not believe that any of us will find work as brick layers back in the states, but we do what we do. Brick by brick and row by row the walls grew. After lunch we split up a bit. Some of the team continued on with the brick wall, dad started looking at some electrical work while Greg and I busted out METL. We only had 1 translator on our team, he was busy. So Greg and I decided to wing it. I setup the kit and turned on the tablets and waved a few kids over to take a look. In all of30 seconds they knew what to do and was off and running. We started with about 5 kids, then 10, then 25, then….well, I lost count. Every kid from anywhere came it to see what these tablets were about. Now, let me set this up for you. The learning center had some posters on the wall of how to say DOG in English or 1+1=2. All hand drawn. These kids were now looking at videos of addition and subtraction and calculus, they were reading about sustainable crop rotation, they were playing math based games, zooming in on maps of parts of the world they never even knew to ask about. All with no internet. All with no power. (Because you know, dad turned that off to do lights). I mean, come on, how cool is that?!?
The kids explored the content on these new windows on the world until it was time for class. While I could not understand a word of what was being said, I could catch the general gist of it…..They thought the METL kit was the coolest thing they ever saw. I would drop a mic if I had one, but I don’t.
After the METL blew some minds, we continued on the kitchen. To be fair I found a way to do something else while others worked a bit harder doing bricks. Ronnie and I worked to complete the new electrical circuts. 7 new lights and a new recept for the kitchen area and replace some bad fixtures. This was its own adventure in itself. So, for those that do not know much about the electricity flowing in your house, most this we use require 110 volts. Some bigger items use 220 volts. Everything here is 240 volts and no ground wire to, well, try to keep you from going up in a puff of smoke if you do something wrong. Top it off with the power already running is basically being supplied with the kind of power cords you have on your lamp, thin and flimsy. So we proceeded with extreme caution. I know enough of electricity to not kill myself and manage to do most things without calling in the pros. But this, well, voodoo magic type stuff. After some discussion and those times you turn your head and close your eyes before you flick the switch moments, it works!
The walls did not get completed but we got it about 2/3 of the way. All electrical got finished. METL kit was delivered. Computers were installed. All in all, it turned out to be a good few days. Another cool thing, some of the kids at my dads church made him a card when he told them he was coming here. They signed it for him wishing him safe travels. He brought it and we found time to have all the kids in the learning center sign it as well so he can take it back and show the kids. Kids, on the other side of the world with commonalities. Whoda thunk it.
It is always hard to “finish” a trip. I put finish in quotes because as I said before nothing is ever finished. We started a few walls. We may not see them finished but we know some of those bricks, we placed, we built and we contributed to a new chapter in the lives of these kids and the village.
I will skip the next days blog as it is primary a travel day for us. We now go off to see the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. I wonder if Laura Croft will be there? If you get that your a nerd and I love you for it.
PS: American Gothic Cambodia Style