Time and again I have failed to truly explain my experience in Cambodia. How do you condense three weeks of beauty, overwhelming heartbreak, and adventure into a few sentences? You are almost forced to settle for this; "Oh, it was so amazing!" Amazing doesn't accurately describe the billions of things that come to mind ranging from awe, respect, and compassion to heart-wrenching disbelief. The part that pains me to talk about is the awful things we learned that the people of Cambodia suffered through some thirty years ago.
After we settled in to our hotel in Phnom Pen we toured the Genocide Museum and visited the killing fields. It was disturbing to learn about the cruelty the country endured in 1975-1979. For a better description of what went down READ THIS article from Time magazine. In short - around 2 million Cambodians were killed. I want to get into it, but I'm no history teacher and I have a different story to tell. Just know this; there are sickening things that happen/are happening in this world and a great need for help. I know you knew that. Just need this fresh in your mind before you see my photos.
The image below is a fence around a gravesite of the victims. Travelors/visitors leave their bracelets to honor and show their respects.
Enter: International Medical Relief. That's us. The group I traveled with. A medical mission trip, if you will. You see, I have this room mate who is a nurse. She inspires me to be better at life. When she gets talking to her Texan friend, Bryn, about their upcoming adventure, I cannot help but invite myself.
Here we are, and yes I got to wear scrubs! No, I don't have any medical skills. I have a very weak stomach but never even came close to fainting while shooting. (by the grace of god) I even witnessed not one but TWO babies being born. True story. My duty was to be the trip historian/non medical volunteer.
The rest of my photos are mostly uplifting. I just wanted to be real with you incase you ever get the urge to do something like this. Know that you will be uncomfortable and see things you'd rather not.
Our first clinic was at a school through Asian Hope. We got to work with some translators from the school who would help us throughout the trip. One thing that stuck with me was at the end of a long day of work, they always goof around and have fun. They explained that instead of going home and going to bed, it's important to them to spend time rebuilding their relationships.
Note: It's fun to be the photographer because you can snap photos instead of actually doing work.
The roads got way too difficult for our vans, so we called for back ups with 4 wheel drive, and continued on our way to the site.
Lots of traffic that day.
We had some great community ed teachers teaching classes while people waited. Lots of hand washing, stretching and how to purify water. It was fun to watch.
On average, we would see about 200-400 people a day. They'd fill out a form, go through triage, see a doctor then visit our pharmacy. We even had a dentist extracting teeth, but I tended to stay away from that since I really cannot handle anything tooth related.
This little dude was looking rough when we first saw him, he was pretty lethargic. When we got some fluids in him, he was all smiles. You have to get pretty creative when hanging an IV in the jungle. Slightly different than what we are used to here. No?
The ride home through the rice patties at sunset was my absolute favorite. It's just like in forest gump but way better.
Tune in next week for part 2.