Day 4 : Along the dirt road…

June 9, 2016 by Gregory Herpe

This morning, Mimi (in real “mom” to everyone in Happy Chandara, her heart on her sleeve) and I went to visit the family of two little girls from school, living in an astonishing poverty.

The father sells Jasmin in Phnom Penh, but denounced by competitors, he and his wife to spend three weeks in jail; with no money to buy their freedom from the police….

Imagine … Three weeks in a prison in Cambodia for selling jasmine on the streets, only to provide for his family in the greatest need …

They have four daughters (the two largest are at boarding school), the grandmother lives with them, sick, in a single small cabin of wave plates and bamboo on stilts above the stagnant water …

And these people greet you with a smile that you rises your soul…


It was also an opportunity to see early in the morning flag-raising, and 1000 girls in uniform lend themselves devour their school books.


They are moving, these children, and I think at my daughter, Agatha, who would hear well with some of these little girls filled with playfulness and malice in their eyes.

The only problem is my Agatha would certainly not like the local breakfast: rice and sardines … Our children, in Europe, do not know how they all have …

I see these young students playing basketball under the banana trees, learning sewing and embroidery, mathematics and Khmer. I cross others, larger, on the stairs, preparing for an English test. We exchange a few words and they show me how well they have learned their lessons. Congratulations girls, congratulations you’re self-sacrificing teachers, and congratulations to Tina, Mimi, Danielle, Denis, all employees and trainees from “Toutes à l’école – All to School” for the great job that I see, never ceasing to marvel…


These girls, thanks to the association, will not be doomed to the fields like their mother, and their grandmothers before them, but they will become tomorrow’s doctors, architects, teachers, lawyers. Maybe like my partner, SocieteA, legal advisers, who would undoubtedly be moved to see Happy Chandara, I am sure, as both are beautiful people (again thank you Celine Hernandez & Sebastian Mafray!).


This afternoon, Denis lent me his mountain bike. How did he even imagine that I could drive on this rickety frame?

Along the dirt road bumpy by the millions of trucks, 4×4, motorcycles who engage on an annual basis, people are living. They are living as best they can that is, of not much, but enough.

Some sell gasoline in old glass liter bottles of Coca-Cola, others sell sodas and beers, of which freshness is questionable. I see barbershops made of bits and pieces, and women seeding jasmine … I meet old men exhausted by the weight of banana bunches (probably several hundred kilos) plodding on mopeds out of another century.


Entering a small path, attracted by loud music, I run into the preparations of a wedding. Temples, which stand proudly towards the baking sun burning my elegant balding.


People greet me, and I go towards them, we are discussing they in Khmer myself in French or English, always with the same result: we did not understand a word … but we understand each other anyway!

I mean by that, that they welcome me and I’m interested in them, they smile at me and I smile back. I take pictures, which I show them on my Nikon screen. They love it, they laugh, and then, much like new friends, we separate by making hand signs…



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