Next I would like to tell everyone about a very successful week I had in March.
I had my official site visit by my country director and program director on March 12. They got to come and see my site and talk to my counterparts and school directors and things went pretty well. Then they discovered that Jen and Jake, a married couple in Kampot (provincial town), had helped plan a river clean up with some of the expats and the governor. Well my program manager (PM) caught wind of this and offered to give me a ride. On the way down we spoke a little about the scope of the project and at the time I didn’t know how involved of a process it had been but thank god for Jen because she coordinated so much of the whole operation.
The next day, March 13, I woke up around 545 got to the river front to help set up all the tents and table and get everything ready for the 200 volunteers we were expecting.
Organizing 200 people is a pretty daunting task, however after the Governor discovered the operation we had a little over 400 people show up and offer their volunteer services. This of course put a bit of a stretch on our supplies seeming as we had enough plastic gloves for 300 and the kids kept playing grab ass and breaking them, then of course they wanted new ones.
Despite the turnout doubling our expectations we managed to field a pretty successful day, Jen and a few other volunteers were in charge of the groups that would stay on the land and clean up the riverside, and myself and Katy Strong took to the high seas of the mighty Kampot River. The Cambodian Journal, an English newspaper in Phnom Penh even sent a representative and photographer down for the event.
Anyway, the cleanup was a wild success and everyone got to enjoy some free lunch afterward and, not to toot our horns too much, the river did look a lot cleaner after we had finished picking up the garbage. There was something peculiar that did happen during the cleanup however. When we climbed out of our boat onto a grassy shoreline some of the children I was in charge of began to clean up the biodegradable material, and I had to basically give them a lesson right there on what went inside the garbage bags and what we could leave behind.
After this experience I decided to do some research within one of my classes to discover exactly what they thought was garbage and what they thought was otherwise. It made more sense to me after one of my students described that the dead leafs and coconut shells were brown and ugly, and the plastic bags were colorful and beautiful.
Well that’s all for me for now, on April 6th I will be heading to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon for all you AMERICANS) to spend a few days in city and surrounding mountains finally making my way to the beach around the 15th for some R&R. I also have about a month and a half off from school because of Khmer New Year and the Kampot Sports Tournament. Thank you for reading and I appreciate the patience in between the recent posts.