|Report written by Lailala, a volunteer staff member of CEALO Japan|
My first trip to participate in the Direct Action of Gayuna Cealo in Cambodia was my first overseas travel ever. I had the opportunity to experience Direct Action with my own heart and I also participated in the "book of the heart" project activities. In addition, we visited the "silk village" with the Shien Tokyo team and participated in activities to promote the agricultural project team.
Here is our luggage of necessary goods and relief supplies. 300 books from the project we were able to bring to Cambodia with our own cooperation. Towels and soaps were collected from the Heart Space, T-shirts and other relief supplies were carried to the airport of departure of the participants (Narita, Osaka, Fukuoka). Each Japanese volunteer paid to transport a box a piece.
For the first time participants, four students, with each member of the book project, the Silk project, and the farming project, plus the Heart Space members, we had a total of 19 members going from Japan in support of Cambodia.
Here are the luggage carts carrying all the boxes.
We loaded them on the rental bus.
The car is the right way. There are no traffic signals or signs. About the driving - smack the horn to indicate when you will switch lanes (everyone laughs).
In the evening, after arriving at the hotel, we had a talk about the schedule, and a short biography of all the projects. Each of us had a room at bedtime.
Day 2 (Phnom Penh)
The next morning, we began working for each project. The Book Project had volunteer students from Phnom Penh who are learning Japanese and worked on our original picture book from Japan written by Matsubara Akemi, a Japan CEALO volunteer. The story is about 2 snakes who become friends. The picture book is written in Japanese and Cambodian and we discussed its translation and practiced reading through it with the local students. We stick to the book for our first project.
Meanwhile, the Silk making project, in collaboration with the local non-profit organization (Hope of Cambodia), is checking the quality of the hand-made silk fabrics.
We all visited the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Education in the afternoon. Mr. Chair Chess told us about the current state of education in primary schools in the city of Phnom Penh.
In the evening, some other local students joined together with us. The little snake picture book was the showcase and was read aloud. Then, each went to work for a project separately.
The high school students from Japan organized and brought relief supplies from Japan. So, we sorted our supplies and prepared for the next day. By the way, the place we stayed was an apartment-style hotel with a kitchen and a communal living room for 6-8. Each apartment had itsown dinner, breakfast, lunch and sandwiches we could make in the day. It was self-catering.
Day 3 - a visit with the Ministry of Education and going to the market (Phnom Penh)
The next day, the Silk support team visited the silk village for technical advice support. They needed to take a small boat to go there.
The remaining members worked on the project book, and visited the Ministry of Education in the city, to meet the education minister Lim Se tea, to talk about the direct education of the heart using the book project.
Normally, the department is closed on Saturday. But the Minister visited with us especially. He gave a warm welcome to everyone. He listened well to us and was very happy about the picture book project.
Later, we bought relief supplies from the local market.
The market is a maze of narrow lanes and chaos. Cealo goes to a store because they are number one. They give the best prices and support for the Direct Action. You must move briskly to keep in sight of His Holiness. In the narrow passageways, each volunteer assisted by quickly counting out the number of shirts required.
We take the items back to the hotel and immediately begin to create hundreds of care packages for the villagers.
There are clothes for 400 children and other items for 300 families. There is a place for each item, and the team member goes to each item in turn to put it into the care package. One does not know how to loaf with everyone working so hard.
Finally, the bags for each family are made and the setup for the Direct Action tomorrow is ready. Smooth, without a wasted thing. It is very pleasing to participate in this kind of organization.
Here are the contents of the children's care package:
Note pads, ballpoint pen, mini white board, donated goods from Japan, the picture book from the book project, towels, T-shirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, sweets, juice, etc.
Here are the contents of the family care package:
Rice, clothing, towels, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, soy sauce, salt, sugar, rehydratable noodles, canned fish, cooking oil, comb, shampoo, etc.
Here are the tons of rice.
After creating the care packages, we practiced the picture book project in preparation for the next day. This included a practice of songs and readings for the students.
Day 4 - we visited an orphanage (Siem Reap)
We went to Siem Reap in the morning. From 6-7:00 AM we recited and practiced the picture book project on the bus for an hour.
Everyone sits in the middle. Once we arrived in Siem Reap, we entered an orphanage. You can see that masonry repair supplies are needed to support the orphanage.
We start preparing to pass out the food on arrival. This is the first such experience for me, seeing the eyes of each villager properly, and passing the care packages with both hands.
"OKUN (thank you)" mutual exchange "Thank you" heart.
Later, after we handed over the relief supplies, our entire large team performed our concert and readings of the picture book with a picture-story show.
Everyone continues to read out the story about the 2 snakes who become friends. The students of Cambodia, read the Khmer version. Children with sparkling eyes listened and watched and everyone enjoyed the account of how Coro came out of the Den and made a friend.
After the reading, the book was distributed to each child, and we asked each small child to read properly.
Once the picture books were distributed to the children, each volunteer moved quickly to a small child and had him/her read aloud.
When it was time to interact with the children, at first I did not know what to do. We sat in a sort of circle and we were able to communicate with our eyes and interact with gestures.
We had many smiles after visiting the orphanage and we returned to the inn.
In the evening, an orphanage teacher who offers Japanese education along with some of his orphanage children visited us. They are joining our farm land project that is planned to begin on the 1st of April. We discussed what to expect during our upcoming days of field work. We are going to participate in the meeting about farm practices and collaboration on Sunday. All the preparations have began.
Both Cambodian and Japanese students became relaxed and got used to working together. We started to smile a lot. The Cambodian students who speak Japanese inspired me to learn Khmer and English. And not only think, I do! Here we are practicing reading the picture book the next day after dinner. Two of the Cambodian students began to recite the picture book without Japanese assistance.
Day 5 - tour (Siem Reap)
The next morning, the teacher and students at the orphanage who visited us yesterday joined us to visit Se Noy, a village.
Our cars went past the Angkor Wat so fast without even reducing speed. No one paid any attention to the ancient Angkor Wat ruins. It is interesting to see a world famous ruin in this way.
We also visited the prospective site where we could build a learning center for the future of Cambodian children. The land was donated by a local non-profit organization, the Foundation of Khmer Development.
The area is designated for industrial or commercial development investment. It is easy to use land near the highway. How soon will the plan be effected? I look forward to finding out how the land will be used.
In the afternoon, we visited the village of Se Noy. There is a lot of poverty. Relief supplies are given out by each one of the students to the people in the village. Aid is provided to each household. 130 care packages for kids, and 150 for families.
Later, we performed our concert and reading that included the students from Phnom Penh. Thanks to the training and preparation, I could see the people of the village are drawn into the story. The readings and concerts were not just for children. It was impressive that the adults are seriously enjoying the picture book story and show.
There is an entire generation of adults in Cambodia who grew-up, their entire childhood, during the chaotic aftermath left over from the Khmer Rouge and the war in Vietnam. So, this was an opportunity for the adults to absorb the story about friends, too. A world of smiles results.
After the reading, there was a time of interaction with the children. First, a large white cloth was spread on the ground. The children were then invited to draw upon it. They were shy at first, but with a little encouragement, the children began painting on the white cloth.
Everyone could draw a picture and then there ensued a hula hoop game of endurance. The children were a little bit shy but they seemed to enjoy the exchange. There are pictures and more pictures and every last person in the pictures have a smile.
Back on the bus, we felt we were in a paddle boat (laughs). For the reading the next day, another two Cambodian students rose to the challenge. The Cambodian students continued practicing reading the book without Japanese people until late in the night.
Amica said to us, “Now you see that there are no such things that has-to-be-done-by-ME”. First, we tried reading and performing the picture book show by ourselves in both Japanese and Cambodian language. But now the Cambodian students have much more confidence and courage to give the reading without us in the Cambodian language only. Yes, now we know why she said that.
Back at the Inn, in another room, we were getting a steady following, and a solidarity developed with all the students living and working daily together. We all formed a deep friendship.
Day 6 - happy orphanage, now we are ready for farm practice (Siem Reap)
The Silk project team visited the Institute of Khmer Silk. The institute provides traditional Khmer silk and reconstruction assistance in Cambodia and is a pioneering non-profit group. A craftsman from Japan started to live in a small isolated village and is helping to reconstruct the great ancient cultural tradition of hand-woven Khmer silk. The silk project team learned a lot from the organization as a noble model of supporting development of village industries. The team got courage through the organization’s work and felt the unfold potential of Cambodia.
While the silk team was working, we visited the Happy Orphanage and handed out 50 children's care packages to the orphanage children.
The farm project members went to a plant shop while we were in the orphanage and the team obtained the tree seedlings chosen by Mr. Heng. A volunteer staff member of the farm project in Cambodia, Mr. Heng from Siem Reap, specializes in agriculture. The farm project members also bought the necessary farm equipment for tomorrow.
At the orphanage, we followed Amaria's lead and sang, "Clap your hands if you are happy." We sing in Khmer, the language of Cambodia "ARAPPIYA" after a popular song they often sing together, and we read the picture book.
Looking at the big picture book, the story show is enjoyed with intense concentration from all. We are delighted they're tasting the world of the story.
The orphanage children said that they have studied the Japanese language so we recommend writing their name in Japanese in the book we distributed to each. We supplied a set of small markers and white boards for each child. With markers and white boards, you can practice writing the letters many times. First, we practiced using the white board. Many children can write their name in both English and Japanese. The children who can’t write Japanese had assistance from the student volunteers from Phnom Penh. After practicing it, they can finally write their name in their book.
We invited all the children over 12 years old from the orphanage to participate in the farm land work. In the afternoon, we went to the farm land to prepare for the next day. The farm land is 1 and half hour drive from the town of Siem Reap and we rode a shaking bus on a narrow road like a snake. At the farm land, we built a furnace, removed weeds, made ridges, and prepared for the planting the seeds. The soil is really hard and we pound the soil to make clay for the furnace making.
We worked fairly steadily in the soil. I find it hard work.
Anyway! How many ways the body is not normally used. We realized that we do not have much physical labor .... (Sweat). I knew I would fall into a deep sleep in an instant that day. We all knew we could not have insomnia after we performed direct action.
Day 7 - collaboration experience through farming and field work(digging pond / outdoor cooking / planting in the field)
The work at the farm is a full-time practice. Due to an unseasonal but fortunate rain the night before, the soil was soft and full of water.
The teachers from the orphanage and the children are happy, along with the volunteers from Japan, the volunteers from Phnom Penh, the student volunteers from Phnom Penh, the helpers from the local non-profit organization, and the farm keeper. We had a total of 60 people working on the farm project!
There was a pond digging group, a food preparation group, a group for planting - each field had a team. Using the body, we were working the sweat away. I was part of a food preparation group using the the newly made furnace, with fire wood and charcoal, and making full use of the lunch ingredients. Hot! Hot! Hot! (Laughs)
We were made comfortable by a very delicious frozen drink and water.
We ate curry with rice. And we each got a mango fruit frozen since yesterday! Very delicious. "Happiness ~ ~ ♪."
The cold mango dessert was quickly eaten by everyone.
After resting for a while, the men and women began to play a game that everyone in Cambodia knows. It involves a lot of fun throwing hard nuts. I attempted the game - it was bad (laughs).
After the break, we began to resume the farming operations in a natural way. We divided into our groups and planted seeds or dug a pond.There was a shaded area in the middle for resting. Everyone there performed the physical work well including the Japanese students and volunteers.
We planted cherry seedlings, mangos, coconuts, palm trees, lime trees, and jasmine and gardenia flowers. After digging the ponds, there was so much progress in the fields we were able to plant the potatoes and green soybeans. How fruitful the harvest time will be now! You can have anything you want if you plant it! I can only imagine how we will feel after a few months of growing.
During the farm practice, we were getting a feeling for agriculture in Cambodia. There will be a variety of experiments to improve the soil, monitor the weather, and find whatever way is most appropriate. They will try many different ways. Cambodia was originally more abundant and participated in food exports. With this work, they will bear fruit again.
Of course, after this physical work, we got a good sound sleep. I don’t know why… I felt full of happiness.
Day 8 - move back to Phnom Penh
On this date, we left Siem Reap for Phnom Penh.
"I love Siem Reap because it is a very calm and quiet," one of students from Phnom Penh said. Come to think of it, there is no sound of cars. The geckos provide a chirp sound (laughs). Mornings there are very calm and quiet. Beautiful to see the morning stillness.
We immediately moved to load the bus headed for Phnom Penh. We sat on the bus a long time. When we got back to Phnom Penh, we said goodbye to the Cambodian students. It may be that we will meet again. It may not. We are leaving with no regrets. Only a smile,and a "Thank you. Have a nice day!"
So, fun was had by everyone on the farm project! But it's not over yet! We began preparing for tomorrow.
Day 9 - temple tour and visit to a street orphanage
With the cooperation of the local non-profit organization, and at the invitation of Samdach Chia Sim, the President of the Senate, we visited a temple in the morning and took part in a dedication ceremony. During the ceremony, I had a sleep attack, but I managed to stay on my feet.
After the temple dedication, the last luncheon was at a Japanese restaurant in Phnom Penh. Time was short, but the participants and a Prince of Cambodia who attended the Heart Expo in Japan, enjoyed a fleeting reunion, along with the Japanese food.
Then, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, we visited another orphanage. Or rather, a kind of orphanage. The orphans there are living in places like the barracks. The meeting space there is also used as a gathering place for the poor who live around the area. After the distribution of relief supplies, the rest of the care packages, I have a little extra something to give to the orphanage.
The people have such purity in that poverty. Their purity is also rich - the natural human condition? I want to take it or ignore it.
There was a picture-book reading. We acted together to the end. But there was almost no rehearsal time. Every word was listened to seriously by both the children and adults. The picture book team donated a small library of 20 books here.
Back at the hotel, we were showered by 6:00 PM in the evening. When one of the the Phnom Penh students came to the farewell party. We were taking pictures and making memories, rolling raucously together. There are sparkling smiles, they shined. The first day is very different from the last. There are tears and smiles on everyone's face. We cannot hide that we are carefree.
"The end of one story is the beginning of the next."
Then, we left for the airport. At the airport, there is a 1 hour delay from the scheduled departure time. We were a little tired of the crushing wait for the plane bound for Seoul. The arrival date was changed to the next afternoon. So, we spent most of our time in bed, resting. "Cheers for the good work!" Our team was dissolved.
So long. The day was good. I think so. The week felt like a day. I had trouble remembering what I'd done the day before. I am a bit surprised, I can only remember one day at a time even though enough sleep time was provided each day.
I joined my first effort saying "I must have no time to sleep." I assume that it is good to have time to sleep (laughs). And I received many experiences from all the people who participated in the Direct Action. I only have the experience to take with me.
Overseas aid is not something difficult. How you divide the daily experience with these non-routine experiences and not to do the same again.But I also do not need an excuse for going again. I know I will.
In each process, we can have a wonderful experience.
Because of the Direct Action movement, I cannot afford to spend time on trivial things, I have no time to blame myself and others. Direct Action is good. From this experience, I dropped my expectations on my own.
As His Holiness Cealo says, "do not cling to results." My hat is off once again to each volunteer.
For myself, I am absolutely a small seeding of Direct Action! I felt that there was something about that. We can leave our children a better future. Do not give up!
To put yourself in my heart, I hope to continue Direct Action on my own at any cost regardless of where. Thank you very much for the many experiences. To be a part of the Direct Action is really good. Go up to the front of the volunteer line!