Cambodia: Still more to learn pt.1

If you are following me on Twitter, (which you should be! :P) or friends with me on Facebook, or have jumped onto the Google+ wagon, you probably know that past 2 days I have been in Prey Veng – with no internet at all. Now, I’m back in Phnom Penh, in the office, catching up with everything I missed the past 2 days.

 

This post is not about me complaining about no internet though. Defintiely not. It’s about how much there is for me to learn about Cambodia – and if I do complain and express my frustration, it will be toward the fact that

1) there are still so many lives here that are suffering but are not heard because the government is blocking their ears and closing their eyes to avoid recognizing the problems at all cost

& the fact that

2) I felt so hopeless knowing the problems I see before my eyes cannot magically disappear – that there are still so many complications and things behind the scenes to solve that I, too, wanted to hide from all the problems.

There are a few reasons I came back to Cambodia. Of course, one main reason was to attend my sister’s graduation, but that’s just a one-day event. I did come back to travel and explore the culture and appreciate it more too. But the big reason I am here is because I wanted to see, or more, NEEDED to see, the real problems of Cambodia – not the surfacing ones you see projected by the government and the media but what’s underneath and outside the walls of corruption in the districts – problems of people whose voices are not being heard and rather ignored.

I don’t like to talk about places that I work at to respect the organization’s privacy and policy control but I’ll mention for the purpose of this post that I have joined UNICEF Cambodia for 2 months to help them in the External Communications department.

Here, I would like to mention that anything and everything I have said/will say is strictly what I, personally, feel and has nothing to do with UNICEF and its wonderful work in Cambodia.

I was fortunate enough to join this field trip with UNICEF Korea and Asiana Airlines (one of the major funders of UNICEF- through the Change for Good program) to visit Prey Veng, its communes and villages to look at what is being done and the programs that were implemented there.

I have been to the provinces a few times before while I was living here but this was a whole different experience for me. This time I was more aware, and as far as education/experiences go, I was thinking more in terms of what was really going on in Cambodia and what could be done to change things. However, knowing more, I was also very emotional about the things I was seeing and was almost frustrated/angry at the fact that although things were changing, they were changing at a very slow rate.

I tend to talk a lot on NGOs and its effects on developing countries (especially in my Tumblr blog). How although they are doing good for the moment, they might be doing more damage than good in the long run. By visiting Prey Veng, I was almost certain about it.

NGOs and foreign help do not come to stay forever. Yes, building houses for them and building wells for them do help. But it’s only when the people of the country stand up and realize for themselves what they need, things will really change.

Meaning.. instead of giving them these things and saying: “you need clean water, you need to go to the hospital,” it is important to help them to realize and teach each other about the importance of sanitation, health, education and human rights.  

This is part of what UNICEF Cambodia does. It will be too complicated for me to explain it all here in words – because I only truly understood it by visiting the sites and witnessing things – but in brief, it is all about sustainability!

This is my brief overview of what I felt in Prey Veng. It is boring but it is also very important that I share this with you because my trip was not only about looking at the beautiful sceneries in Cambodia. 

 In my next post though, I’ll do specific stories and photos – promise! :) 

Meanwhile, if you are interested in finding out more about voluntourism and some of the problems it might come with the good, visit my Tumblr, lessonsilearned.org or Goodintents.org

Also, not entirely relevant, but somewhat relevant:

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2 thoughts on “Cambodia: Still more to learn pt.1

  1. Me again! :-) I really appreciate this post. Roman (my bf) and I keep talking about NGOs. We’ve seen them in all the places we’ve traveled so far but Cambodia seems to be overrun with them. There’s no denying the good that they do, but we just can’t help but feel that in some hard-to-pin-down way, they’re involvement just doesn’t feel right – something about it just doesn’t feel authentic, organic, and as you say, sustainable. Really interesting to read about your impressions based on your closer view of the situation. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Poverty in #Cambodia: Lynda Renhamcook discusses her recent trip. | Indulge: capturing love, life & everything in between

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