Days 8 – 9 : Across the river…

June 15, 2016 by Gregory Herpe

Yesterday, no Wi-Fi or very little, and therefore impossible to write on my blog. It’s a little better today, despite a rainstorm, of which Cambodia possesses the secret that made me soaking wet.

Yesterday morning, after photographing some classes, I found myself on a path bordering a stream. There, jasmine pickers filled bags under a blazing sun.

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In fact, Cambodia is a country that is organized around the waterways and roads. The villages follow the water, houses are built in rows without ever going too deep in the forest.

I see scenes of life, images that I capture; a woman who is cooking chicken legs, a frankly poor man sells not fresh eggs, young monks are begging, some small boys are playing soccer…

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Faces follow each other up from school to the villages and I always notice the same depth, the same strength, the same kindness in the eyes of Cambodians.

 

This morning Khmer writing classes and English lessons; the little ones give their whole heart to the work.

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Mimi asks me to take some pictures of students for their sponsors who sent those gifts. This is to show, how pleased they are with their attentions. They have the chance to have “guardian angels” who watch over them from far away, benevolently. I accept willingly because I know it will please the sponsors (and Mimi who makes the best soup in the world!).

Some received a watch, a necklace, a pretty dresses, others drawing materials, a small top and earrings … Their eyes shine from excitement.

 

Then Mimi and I go into a chook-chook, with a mother and two students, to visit families on the island that faces Happy Chandara: Anloung Chen Island, in the middle of the Bassac River.

The passage of the ferry is nice and a light breeze refreshes us a little bit; the teenager at the rudder “controls” with his feet, his thighs, rarely with his hands.

On the island we come across some temples and then arrive at the family of Kun Srey Srars, pupil in 6th class at Happy Chandara. The father, abusive and alcoholic, abandoned her mother and six brothers. They live very poor and they certainly do not eat every day…

The mother is brave and never complains about her fate. She protects her children and takes care of them the best she can. They never fail love.

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One of the kids bikes; he must have 7 years at the most. His bike has no saddle, he has crafted one with a coconut. Resourceful this little one …

Back at Happy Chandara, I made the acquaintance with Philippe, the gardener of the boarding school who is miraculously grows fruits and vegetables in a permaculture garden.

What is permaculture? The word “permaculture” by itself is a contraction of “(agri) permanent culture.”

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Creating a permaculture garden can meet towards our human needs while enhancing our environment (development of biodiversity, creating habitats for wildlife and beneficial insects, enriching the earth …).

The garden is flourishing, reveling in in this favorable climate.

My day unfolded under the sign of water … The water garden, water of the Bassac River and the ferry, the water a thunderstorm which falls now. I left by mountain bike to reach the ferry again, just to see the small school’s students go home on the water, as the bell sounded.

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They are surprised and happy to see me make a last goodbye and they do some hand signals while the frail craft longs away into nothing, however, seems to stand still …

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Tomorrow will be another day…

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