Oh, Cambodia, how I have missed you. I am back in Cambodia for the second time in three months and I am as happy as a pig in mud. There is something about this place that I just love; the sights and sounds and smells (as bad as they are) hit you as soon as you come step off the plane and just stay with you. And the people. My word, the people here are just amazing, even the ones that are trying to rip you off at the markets and charge you $15 USD for a headband that is worth $2 USD. I just love everything about this place.
This place also makes me angry and breaks my heart in equal measure. Every time I come here I see more poverty in the midst of the wealth of the city. As I write this I am on a bus with a group of students in Phnom Peng heading out to rural Cambodia and I am watching the chaos on the streets. I am seeing more people walking between fancy cars on the road trying to sell air freshness while in the background new fancy hotels are being built. More prestigious car dealerships are popping up while kids are roaming the streets begging for money. I see decrepit buildings that look dangerously close to crumbling to the ground right next door to a modern, a new and shiny class walled electronics store. I see more heartbreak and despair smack in the middle of. It is a hard place to be in sometimes.
It’s also a place where I see hope. When I come here and see what is being done on the ground level by the churches and the NGO’s like mine, I have hope. I see hope in the faces of the recipients of our programs. I see hope in the faces of the parents when we share knowledge with them will better equip them to raise their kids. These are people no different to us; they love their kids and their families and want what is best for them. They want their kids to dream dreams and break out of the poverty cycle. They want their families to be healthy. But the thing is that you don’t know what your don’t know, and unless people share knowledge and resources, there will always be people that are missing out. There will always be people that will suffer and have a less than healthy and happy life because again, you don’t know what you don’t know.
When I come here I am reminded that I have a responsibility. We all do. Some may not agree with that and that is fine, but I believe that we all have a responsibility to help others and make the world a better place. That responsibility, I think, is higher for people that are in developed first world countries where clean water and shelter are a given. In a Australia I can very easily drink water from the tap without getting sick. I can pick up a ham and cheese sandwich for less than $5. Granted, it’s not the healthiest meal but it is a meal if I need one. Millions upon millions don’t have that luxury. For many millions, their water is so dirty is keeps them sick. And food is whatever they can find, including bugs and insects and rats.
So when I see that, how can I not help in some way? My faith as a follower of Jesus tells me to love others as myself, so if I turn a blind eye to it and just carry on with my little life, how is that loving people? How am I showing people that they are loved by Heaven if I just walk on by? I can’t help everyone but I can help at least one person. You can help at least one person. If you already are, that is awesome. If you are not, what’s stopping you? If it were you living in poverty wouldn’t you want someone to help?
As everyone settles into the new year and starts working on their resolutions and goals for the year, can I ask that we jut take a moment to look around at those less fortunate and find ways to help. Because I promise you that you when you start to help others, it will bless you more than it will bless them.