Displaced Yankee Productions | SUNDAY MORNING from Theresa

At last a morning with a short agenda and no 5 am wakeup needed. I sleep until 7 and leisurely read a British tabloid on the veranda after straightening up my belongings and cramming them back into my suitcase. We are going back to the temple area today, but only for a short bit, and not to burn through more film and memory sticks. We are going to just SIT. Find a shady quiet corner and sit and read or journal or meditate. We are both really looking forward to this, and head out at the much saner hour of 9 am to Preah Kahn, a temple we decided to skip yesterday in part due to my delirium (and apparent inability to distinguish either a men’s room or a cow). It has come highly recommended by our new 22 year old friend named Susannah, who works at the Cambodian Daily by night and volunteers at the CCF during the day. After meeting her during our visit to CCF on Thursday, I ran into her on the steps of Angkor Wat on Friday afternoon. Quite funny – never expected to run into anyone we knew there, and if we had tried to meet up in that humungous complex, we probably couldn’t have done it. Even funnier, while standing chatting with her, I got a call on my cell. So surreal getting a local Cambodian call while standing in the midst of something you had to hack your way to through the jungle, the landmines, and the mosquitoes to get to not all that long ago.
Anyway, we took a cool morning Tuk Tuk ride to Preah Kahn and were delighted by the basic lack of tourists. Apparently the Japanese tour busses all stop first at Angkor Thom, a bigger temple. Phew! We just weren’t in the mood for all that today, especially since we had but an hour and half before we had to Tuk Tuk it back to the hotel to meet our car for the 6 hour return ride back to Phnom Penh.
We settled into a back corner area and split up to each have our quiet time. I know that both of us have been wrestling with conflicting emotions and perceptions during this trip. This country is the land of contradictions. Extreme poverty backed up literally next door to wealth. Utter chaos coupled with a calm persistence by its people. The need for so much help countered by the obvious corruption on the part of aid agencies. The excitement and desire to be a tourist in this country tempered by the guilty feeling of taking part in a new style of colonialism. It’s really gotten my head into a new and uncomfortable place. I came here, high up on my idealistic horse, knowing that I would be going back to the states to finish what we started with (it) magazine. To make a difference. To perhaps make a difference in the lives of some of the very people I was rubbing elbows with this week. Wow. I now wonder, what can I possibly do that isn’t just an unnoticeable drop in this big futile bucket of a world filled with pain, poverty and all kinds of ignorance.
So as I sit down in my chosen spot at the temple, I journal those thoughts. I get it out of my head and onto a piece of paper. I wonder, how does someone like Scott Neeson of CCF do his work and deal with this day after day? I don’t find answers, I just put it down, and after a while decide to set aside the paper and look out the open window across from where I sit. I turn and decide to make myself comfortable. I look to the right, out at a wooded area and then shut my eyes and try to meditate on that scene and let the moment wash over me. Soon, my eyes fly open. The scene laid out in front of me, framed by a moss-covered stone window that’s a thousand years old, speaks to me. Out there is a dirt path, one that winds through stones strewn about that have fallen off the nearby temple as it crumbles. Trees grow up through this. The path lies outside the sturdy stone structure. And I realize… this is the answer. This is nature speaking to me.
The path IS dusty. It’s not perfect. It has obstacles tossed in the way, but the path works its way around and through them. It is dappled in moments of sunshine that break through. The persistence of strong trees line the way like guideposts. Like the people we meet along that dusty path that provides sturdiness and shade… family, the Scott Neeson’s of the world, all those that keep on trying to push up through it all. I cannot see the end of the path from here, but I think I know that it leads back to the entrance of the temple. Even being unsure of where it leads, I still want to take the chance that if I walk it, it leads home. I notice that the path lies outside the structure and decide it’s ok to walk a little outside the box. It’s okay to keep going. It’s all about just putting one foot in front of the other. I feel hopeful that the little things do matter. I think about the interesting convergence of tiny moments that led us to this particular temple. We had so many to choose from. We could have sat anywhere. And yet this particular scene lays itself before me. And I feel better.
Sunday Evening:
We’re back in Phonem Phen for the evening, before heading out in the morning for our twenty-four hour journey back to the states. It has been a journey of many paths: emotionally, spiritually, and physically…. We came here with certain expectations and hopes, suffered moments of extreme doubt, sadness and frustration and have hopefully emerged on the other side wiser and ready to face the issues, no matter the obstacles. The situation here may seem overwhelming and the issues not solvable by anyone, at least not in our lifetime. But perhaps big change is not the answer for us – change, no matter how small, makes a difference. It causes a ripple in the water and the water is forever changed, even if you can’t tell from the surface. Our efforts may seem like a drop in the bucket, but as Scott said to us at the shelter so powerfully: “Don’t tell these kids that they are a drop in the bucket. They’re not.” The world is a very big place, but to a child, the world can be very small. Change one child’s life and you change their world and our world is better for it. Thank you all for your support in our journey: your donations to the shelter, your messages and your encouragement in this project. I hope you have seen through our eyes and perhaps learned along with us. Please continue to follow the project over the course of the next year and tell a friend. These are images and stories we won’t soon forget or should forget. Spread the word.
Peace and Love – Heather


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