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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cambodia: On the Road with Rainbow

Rainbow Choi, HOPE International Development Agency’s UNION Coordinator (and much more) recently arrived in Pursat, Cambodia, where she will welcome 2010’s summer team of volunteers. They are set to build a school that the poorest children in Cambodia’s countryside will be able to attend.

Her observations after traveling to meet some of the families that HOPE International Development Agency works with address the heart of the volunteer experience. There is nothing like being ‘overseas’ to realize one’s relative insignificance and yet total importance to the ‘bigger picture’ of poverty alleviation.

According to Rainbow:

“What I thought was amazing was that this long 2 or 3 km road for travel / dike for creating reservoirs of water for rice farming was first built by HOPE International Development Agency in the 1990s! It naturally eroded a bit, and then got significantly destroyed by some serious flooding in 1996, and had the Cambodian government along with some UN funding for repairs... but to be driving along that road for awhile that seemed to stretch on forever, seeing the water-filled farms on each side (needed for the rice paddies), and be able to get to the farmers far into the countryside... on a road made by HOPE International Development Agency... was pretty darn neat. :)

What I've been thinking most as I've been meandering through HOPE International Development Agency projects - big scale like this road, or big, to an individual family, is that, wow, I'm somehow connected to all this grand, amazing work. I don't take any credit for it... I mean, I was barely alive in the early 90s when the road was built, lol... even now, working with HOPE International Development Agency, it's not like I had anything to do with these Cambodian families' lives changing due to their new clean water filter that I just first read about in the project report 2 days ago. But somehow I'm connected to it now. It would keep rolling on without me, I also realize - I'm not an essential part at all of this picture. But, the neat thing is, that kind of I am. Or, I can be, with what I do with HOPE International Development Agency. Right now, I've just got an official "HOPE" hat on (should I be so privileged?), writing a report which really doesn't change much for the families I met today.

This simple water filter I saw today that cost $50 to build and is actually, really, saving a whole family from typhoid and other waterborne diseases? It's amazing! I had nothing to do with it! BUT- the one that doesn't yet exist that can change the lives of another whole family? I can be a part of that one. And actually so can you - anyone who cares to. You don't need to work for HOPE International Development Agency. You don't even need to come on a UNION trip (though really, you should! ;) ). Development (good development) is so much more than money... but it takes money keeps the wheels spinning. We make a lot of it. We do. A heckuvalot. What makes a life of a difference for a family here is so very small.”

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