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Helping the poor in Cambodia

When I see pictures of kids crying because the only thing they had called “home” was destroyed by bombs launched from Israel, I cry. When I see beggars on the street, I cry. When I feel I cannot help them, my tears drop. I don’t know why. They just fall down naturally. They just come easy. Am I being very emotional here?

Just like today, when I was eating something, an old man holding a walking stick in his hand came and asked for some money. I quickly tried to find the change in my pocket (which I saw earlier) to give that to him. But I saw only big money, and I tirelessly tried to find it for him. After he saw me busy finding for a while, he gave up and walked away. I felt very sad for him and got angry with myself for my unorganized habit of throwing things into my bag.

The question I asked myself was “Am I crazy?” I know my action was assumed by others as crazy and nonsense, but I only wanted to help the old guy a bit with some change I had left.

The other question I asked myself was “Why didn’t I give him the big change?” I thought that giving people who beg on the street much money will make them believe that it’s a good business while it’s not.

It’s not that I never see people beg on the street or come and ask me for money, but still I feel so bad I can’t help. I just feel hopeless that there are just too many beggars in Cambodia to help. Poverty, corruption and many others have driven Cambodia to be so poor and helpless. But on the other hand, does their unemployment come from laziness, some kind of nepotism they have to pay a price for, land grabbing, corruption, gambling? There’s so much to be thought about.

The only thing I realize now is that I cannot help everyone, which makes me feel bad. I wish I could have helped more than I want. I wish that I would never resort to bad means just to be rich and comfortable like some people. No matter what I do, no matter I have been, I feel like I miss out on something. That is, helping people who are in need of help. I’m not a mother of help who would just give away anything to help people. I just want to help people who also help themselves. Am I thinking or doing this to make myself feel better about what I do? Some people would criticize me for this, but living in society where my family got no help, we had wished for help sometimes. I believed, as a child, that if someone came and helped me, I would be helping many other people in need when I grew up. I grew up with no help from anyone but my parents, however, I still want to help people whenever I can. Who cares about growing up with no help from others?

There was a prominent middle-aged man working in the media in Cambodia telling me today that when he slept on snow in France, he swore that if anyone could give him just a piece of bread, he would always be grateful to the person. He came back to Cambodia and helped the poor like he was determined. I want to help the poor not because I want gratitude from them, but because I believed this would spread humility among the rich and poor.

One thought on “Helping the poor in Cambodia

  1. It’s not easy it is?
    I see beggars on the streets where I live too, all of them from foreign countries, probably the middle-east.
    But, I can’t imagine what it much be like in Cambodia.
    I think at least in my town, giving money is not the right way to help, but respecting them, accepting them (not for what they do, but who they are), is. So, I always give them my full attention when they speak to me and I hope they maybe feel more “equal”. Sadly I think most of us in Norway look down upon beggars.
    I don’t have the right to write this or that is what they need to do, I’m not in their situation. But, I can’t imagine that begging in the streets of Norway is their only way of survival. I believe Norway has more to offer them.

    But, in Cambodia the over-all reason why people end up on the streets begging I would think is because they have no other visible option, no help.
    I understand your frustration, you don’t want to encourage begging by giving money, but by doing nothing; you’re not helping one bit.
    The thing is though, Kounila; you are helping! You are writing about your frustration, about how you search for the right way to help.
    And, you have the power of the mind and pen (or keyboard). Just write/speak out, tell the people more fortunate, help them understand, inspire others to help make your society better. It’s a slow process, but I believe the outcome would be solid and stable.
    You’re a good person Kounila, and Cambodia needs youth like you!

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