Displaced Yankee Productions | Let’s Hear It For Global Warming

Every day since we arrived it has rained every afternoon. Not the heavy downpour of monsoon season – but a healthy dose nonetheless. As it is certainly NOT suppose to raining in March here – a fact which is also baffling our Cambodian crew – it makes you wonder. Megan speculated on an early morning walk whether or not the rain would help clear the nastiness of the street. Her thought was then punctuated by a man kicking a large bloody dead mouse in our path. I guess question answered.
Cambodia is holding elections this Thursday and it has become a common site to see large trucks blaring wailing music and decorated with large portraits of candidates rolling slowing through the streets. Art is of the opinion that they rather resemble funeral processions – and having been dragged to a Cambodian funeral at 5 in the morning by Theresa the first time I was here – I kinda agree.
This morning from the window I watched street kids playing a Cambodian form of hacky sack. Yesterday I taught Charam the basics of American football. I had told him about football in an email back at Thanksgiving and sent him a picture of the ball. Of course, he thought an oval shaped ball was just the weirdest thing he’d ever seen, and like every 12 year old who sees a new toy – he immediately wanted one. So one of the most important pieces of my luggage was a youth sized football for him to play with. We have spent a few minutes each day practicing throwing and catching and it’s been an absolute ball. (After I wrote the line I realized it’s a very bad pun but it’s six in the morning and I can’t be clever till after my coffee)
This morning we are heading out to the riverfront to reinterview one of the girls I talked to last summer. I’m hoping we’ll be able to find her again after seeing her on Sunday. I wonder how things have changed for her in the last seven months. I guess it’s time to get going. Time waits for no one.
We find our young woman curled up under a blanket on the stone wall by the river. Her friend spots us coming and unceremoniously yanks her blanket off and tells her to get up. She smiles sleepily and washes up. We start the interview, but it isn’t long before we’ve gathered a huge crowd of people – some pulling up on motto bikes to watch “Hollywood” in action. There is nothing more obnoxious than the sound of a motorbike engine on a boom mike and we have to move the whole operation down to the river itself. The theory being that no one wants to tromp down the nasty, litter strewn stairs to the polluted river after us. And you know what? It works.
Sadly, not much has changed for this girl. Life has continued on for her – sleeping in the streets, selling flowers during the day. But there’s been some new attention and not the good kind. She tells us foreigners have started to approach her and entice her into having sex with them. It’s an unsettling fact of life that Scott confirms for me later. Many of the girls selling flowers are prime targets for unsavory western men. At fifteen, she is now considered an adult – it is the age of sexual consent here in Cambodia. Consent I think – is a relative term here.
After we thank her for talking to us again, we pack up and head over to CCF. We interview Scott about his new programs: The agricultural school and the toddler day care for 3 to 6 year olds. Of course, we all think of Linna and hope that she may get in. It is not a sure thing – the reality is that Linna has a mother and is relatively cared for and fed. She also has Charam looking out for her. In short, compared to some of the toddlers at the dump who are picking garbage and are left alone – she doesn’t have it that bad. It is a tough call and a tough reality.
Next on the agenda is Charam’s photography class. A huge gang of kids laugh and jostle each other as they pile into a tuk tuk and head off to the park to practice taking digital photos. We tag along and the kids take great fun in taking our picture taking their picture. Charam is a natural (but I may be biased J). I’m amused to see the girls all taking pictures of flowers and the boys all taking pictures of themselves hanging out on the stone wall flashing the peace sign. We finish the day at CCF by filming the kids in a time lapse pushing pins into a map to show us where they are from. It’s a fun film activity that the kids really get into.
Our last task of the night is to go to the market and buy rubber boots for tomorrow. We’re heading to Stung Meanchy, the city dump, in the morning and I’ve been trying to prep Dennis and Megan for the horrible smell and horrible scene. Tomorrow is a two-part experience. We’re going in the early morning to capture some footage of the kids at work. Then we’re heading back at night. Scott is insisting on providing an armed escort of two police to come with us. The dump at night is far more dangerous than the day and he wants to make sure we are protected. I’m certainly not going to object but there is some irony in four grown adults needing protection in a dark world where eight year olds are picking garbage with flashlights strapped to their heads. I appreciate the need to protect my crew from robbery or physical violence. But I can’t help but think long after we have gone – these children will remain. Working through the night. And they need protection too.


2 × = fourteen