Today was a a work day, I mean a WWOOOOOOORRRRRRKKKKKKK day. Did I mention we worked to day?
So if you take a 3 hour drive NE of Phnom Penh and then another 1 hour more on dirt roads that only resemble roads in the sense that some things that have wheels might be able to traverse them, you arrive at a village. Toul Khmer Learning Center is there. A very small village with a dozen or more thatched roof homes. About 30 kids from all ages. The village is in the middle of pretty much nothing but rice paddies for mile and miles….oh sorry, kilometers and kilometers.
The learning center has been in need of a kitchen area as all food now is prepared on a mat behind the learning center. We were served lunch by the villagers. It was a great experience and good food. Rice (of course) and fresh cooked veggies and chicken so fresh that I am pretty sure the other chickens were giving us the stink eye from outside the door. The children had organized a dance for us upon arrival. A traditional dance for the harvest. That was one of the coolest things ever.
Our primary reason for being there was to build a kitchen. More accurately build the brick walls for the kitchen. Literally, we are all experienced brick layers now. Not that we would pass any safety inspections or anything but maybe we could unionize? Substandard Mediocre Brick Layers Chapter 101 maybe?
With all the driving there has been some great conversations had in the van. We all began to learn more and more about each other. Backgrounds and history and hopes. I know most people on this trip but pretty much only from other trips. It is easy to forget we all go back to “the day to day” world and have so many other aspects of our lives. Greg Wilborn and I had some flashes of insight and ideas for reaching more and more kids with our METL kits. Sneak preview….South America get ready for CADP….. Among all the discussions the ones I over heard with my dad telling people about his time in the region stood out. He has been very freely and openly answering all questions people had. I have learned much more than I ever knew growing up. Some of those included: He was trained for 101st Airborn but they were pull out a month before he deployed so went to Americal division. He volunteered to be a tunnel rat, crazy right? He was shot on July 4th, 1 day before his tour was to end. He was shot twice, once in the neck and then while being lifted out by helicopter shot in the shoulder. He did not even know the second shot happened until they got him back to the med area. I learned some history of why things happened the way they did here. It was a good van ride.
We managed to all gets some brick work done and make some structures that resembled the beginning of walls. I am sure when we return to finish today the locals that were helping us wll have fixed our mistakes or just started over, yet to be seen. All I know is now when I want to build that brick fire pit at home and my wife says I don’t know how…I have picture proof I do…..
One more day with the villagers and the bricks and we leave. It always seems so short. I continually remind myself of what I tell others. You won’t see the end result but you can put a piece of the puzzle together.
I will train more on the use of the kit today and tomorrow and leave it with the directors capable hands. It is like I am handing over a piece of me when I deploy one of the METL kits. Yeah its just a bunch of computer what nots and doo dads but when you hands mush them all together into something that can be a piece of a puzzle to help educate people and be the next step to get out of a poverty spiral, that collection of computer things becomes a living thing that has meaning.
Wish us luck and send some good thoughts that our back and arms and legs will survive this day. Maybe send some Advil to….or morphine….your choice.
I will update with pictures later today, internet is a bit slow here.