Pages Menu
Rss
Categories Menu

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013

Crash Course on Cambodia

 

“What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.”

-Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Four days have passed since I walked into my NGO – backpack on – feeling like a little kid again entering a classroom where I knew no one. I wasn’t nervous, but anxious. Anxious to meet the people I’d be working with, but more anxious that my time was too short to really do anything meaningful for an organization that has been serving its community for more than 20 years. What was I possibly going to do in three months that would help them advance their work?

A painting depicting some of the issues Cambodians are facing - done by a group of young people who are members of the NGO I'm working with.

A painting depicting some of the issues Cambodians are facing – done by a group of young people who are members of the NGO I’m working with.

Throughout our volunteer orientation, I had to keep pinching myself. Was this real? Was I really preparing to live in Cambodia for three months and thinking I could provide some level of help to an NGO half a world away from life as I knew it?

I don’t have any level of clarity yet, but I’ve shown up for four days and have begun to learn a tiny drop in the bucket of what constitutes the human rights issues and violations occurring today in Cambodia. Women’s issues, gender inequality, sex trafficking, unemployment of young people, water sanitation, climate change, land ownership rights being violated – the list goes on. And, it’s a heavy list. One which makes my head ache as I commute home from the office. A list that reinforces the fear that I’m not going to be able to do much in three months.

A painting by youth members of my NGO - depicts some of the stakeholders in the work they are doing.

A painting by youth members of my NGO – depicts some of the stakeholders in the work they are doing.

On my third day, I had the privilege of a attending an NGO forum held in Phnom Penh for a group of member NGOs. The forum provides an opportunity for NGOs to discuss and advance issues, specifically with government representatives who attend the forum. The room was packed with NGO workers from International and Local NGOs. As I sat with my headphones on listening to the English translation to the Khmer-spoken presentations, I was struck by the thought that up until a couple of months ago, I had no idea what was happening in Cambodia. And the thought that has continued to run through my mind since then – how many other countries am I totally ignorant about?  The answer unfortunately, is a lot.

But, as I’ve been reminding myself since the beginning of this, these few months are not about me. They are about showing up. About daring to immerse myself in a reality I have not known. It’s about being vulnerable and being okay not knowing, but just seeing.

A reminder hanging on a tree at Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A reminder hanging on a tree at Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

My greatest accomplishment here (besides helping to write a grant for my NGO that hopefully gets funded) will be measured in what I learn. The things I see, the things I find out by asking questions and the things I take with me and share with others. As the sign says, if I want to be a teacher (or a sharer) of things, I must first study.

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Your new posting has me in tears, but tears of pride in what you are doing. The world is certainly a better place with you and your attitude. Bless you. Love, Mona

    • Thanks Mona…the world is even better for the people we’re working with here who really are making a difference!

  2. I am very proud to know you and what you are doing.

    • Hi Barbara! Thanks for stopping by. Dave misses you so much!

  3. Beautiful reflection, Jill. So proud of you.

    • Thanks Kristin – learned a lot of this from you too 🙂

  4. Love, love, love reading your blog, feel at times I am right there with you. Love & miss you guys!

    • Thanks Caryn! I wish you were right here with us!! Miss you!

  5. NGO in Cambodia arent serious with money from donation.
    It isnt normal to use NGO cars for go to Kep or Sihanoukville during the week end.
    Donators dont agree for this.

    • From the local NGOs I’ve interacted with so far, none of them are driving NGO cars to the beach for the weekend. Most of them don’t have cars to begin with.

  6. Jill,

    Your post is absolutely honest and authentic, just like you are. Stay safe and please keep sharing your thoughts and experiences.

    Kismet

    • Thank you Kismet! Glad you’ve starting following, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!