Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Days in Siem Reap

It is time to pass on the money raised, even so it's not much at £130 total.
Looking at local costs and the difficulty of accessing a further out farming family I am considering to split the money between Nakry and his immediate family and his cousin who is 16 and was taken out of school to work as a day labourer on other people's fields. This work brings at most $4 a day for skilled labour and my hunch is that women get a lower rate than that. I'd love to be able to send her back to school to finish at least the basic education (High School) + ideally a language qualification that would help a lot also.

Good and verified / recognized Language classes here cost around $110-$190 for a 3 month term of 45 lessons. The changing price depends on the level taught. Academic language training with international IELTS testing is available as well, but the Basic Language skills have to be learnt first.

If I had a steady income I would love to be able to say: I will pay for you to take the full program of lessons over the next 3 years. It really makes me feel strange to not be able to help. It's a matter of $50-$70 a month. (help would be needed with transport costs and that could end up being $10 for each trip she makes to town to attend lesson as there are no local busses and transport relies on pick-up trucks and scooters and tuk-tuks charging $5 for a single journey). That's not much money.

I'd love to send Nakry, too.

The bottom line is probably that I should offer Nakry something to teach her and try help him to gain qualifications in order to pass them on. As he is more independent in the first place, with being a male (which makes him safer on longer journeys to town and also culturally it is preferred for women to not travel too far - I imagine a lot of this is about security.)

I wish I had an income and could help others make positive changes themselves... argh...

Women and girls are so much safer when educated! A study I read somewhere found that there is a direct relation between the schooling of a girl and her future children. It showed that approximately for every term that she would remain in education she would make sure that her future children would remain in education a year longer.. That's quite an equation!

Also given the levels of poverty here and the uncertainty of tourism (which often seems the only real source of income) girls are really vulnerable to the sex trade. It's not a Myth, it's not dramatization, it's a real but hidden and secretive problem. The trade of girls and women is real. And it is proven that education helps.

I speculate that of course the more girls are ins school the more want to also be in school and even if they are not able to attend the general dynamic will create more knowledge and more self determination among girls and women of any age.

It often seem strange to me how here even graduates of English Literature Studies have not heard and much less read authors like George Orwell. I would have thought that any english literature course would read 1984, I would certainly wish they would. But the way things are I think Cambodians here in Siem Reap are a long way off from Critical Studies. It is easy to be dismissive of degree programs at home that are called "Critical Studies", " Media Studies", Gender Studies... it all sounds a bit wishy-washy at times, but seeing it from here those are amazing testaments to the freedom we have to really think about who we are and how we fundamentally and subtly affect each other and the world around us. Here people learn to english language but I am not sure if they learn much in terms of content.

I am by no means meaning to imply an absence of intellect, but rather an absence of available course programs and not enough opportunities to access what is available in limited quantities.

I'll change the ££'s into $$'s today and take as much as I think is right to Nakry's family.

Green Gecko Projects

Thursday, December 01, 2011

settling into Siem Reap / unedited

I am at a hotel near my very cheap guest house, having very expensive espresso to use their great wifi. It's my first time here and it's wonderful. I'd like to spend a week's budget on a day on their terrace! :) I'll restrain myself. I only ordered yoghurt.

Their noodles and vegetables are almost $4 and for that I get 3 portions of fried rice with a sprinkle of vegetables in another place right by my guesthouse. But then again... I am tempted by deluxe noodles... hmmmmmm

Yesterday I peeled myself out of bed and hired a tuk tuk to take me the 13km to the Silk Farm where my friend Nakry works. I think I was too sick to go but I really had had enough of laying in a boring room day after day. So I AT LAST saw Nakry and we are meeting again on his day off on monday. I'm making progress finding out where to buy baby chicken which will be part of my little help-package. :)

The tuk tuk to the Silk Farm and back is $10 and there is no way to get there cheaper,which is a bit steep. So much money wasted really.. (grrrr)

I am volunteer teaching German at a Cafe called Peace Cafe, and I have 5 students.I have split them up into one-to-one and even smaller groups because they have all different levels of German speaking practice. It's great to be able to offer something and to work with people who are so keen. At last I have a sense of purpose. I started on monday, even so I was still really sick, but I didn't want to let them down.One woman is a local NGO worker, Noungh, she is a real inspiration. A strong personality but also really nice. She's saved me at least $4 so far by giving me a lift on her scooter afterclass and to the Photography evening slideshows; stubborn as I am I only missed the first opening evening and attended at least the slideshows - beginning at 8.30pm - every evening. The first evenings I could barely manage to lay on the big mat on the ground which everyone sat on. But am progressively becoming better. The Photo Festival finishes on saturday evening.And of course I haven't really managed to fill my quota of 'achievements' at all. But I think I did ok given how sick I was (and still am) - hurrah to stubborn-ness........

Today is a rest day. I'm not doing anything except sit here with wifi for a couple of hours, then some rest in bed and then a german lesson with 3 students. Interesting people. Super nice people.

It is much easier to relax here in Siem Reap, once you figure out how to escape the tourist mania.It is easier to have something to do here that is useful to others. In Chiang Mai it is harder to do things without spending money. Much easier here. But much hotter, too. The heat is pretty exhausting.