Date: January 23rd, 2013
I spent nearly 13 hours in Prey Veng and Kampong Cham province today. Visiting an almost isolated village in KC, I met an old grandpa who looked gently at me and held out his hands. “I only wish to see better roads built so that little girls and boys can go to school without much trouble,” the old grandpa said selflessly. The 63-year-old has been behind building makeshift roads for kids in his village, though he doesn’t work as a village or commune chief. I have felt completely humbled by what he has done for his villagers, and I witnessed the very difficult road condition to/within his village: Korng Sre village, Lvee commune, Srey Sonthor Kandal district, Kampong Cham province. It’s also known that the village has stopped voting for the same political party they had voted for years – because of unheard (broken) promises.
There, I also met another 60 something grandpa who was a teacher and then a policeman for several years before 1970s, and later spent such 8 to 9 years as a Khmer Rouge solder that he got fed up with tears and gore, war and fighting. He then completely gave up his belief in communism in 1979, become a teacher, then a policeman, and join several democratic’ political parties. As destiny is set for him, he’s gone back to teaching. “If I want to change something, I can’t just use weapons to solve problems, but I have to provide knowledge to poor illiterate village kids.”
To recap the whole day, I dare say that the most compelling problems that these villagers share are: lack of infrastructure (good roads/schools/water management), job opportunities, and surprisingly access to information. Sadly, each of the parents can’t stop their children from leaving for Phnom Penh, other provinces and countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea. Just because there is nothing for young people to do. As I was about to leave PV for Phnom Penh, an aunt whose niece has disappeared in Malaysia for almost 2 years plus 3 years of contracted work as a domestic helper, begged me repeatedly to help find her niece after all efforts such as approaching the company that took her to Malaysia, filing a complaint at police stations went in vain.
I am determined to get up in about five hours from now, so that I can give her information about organizations that work to help lost Cambodian foreign workers in foreign countries like Malaysia or Thailand.
Note to self.