Going to the projects

Day XXXVII – April 24

This morning we’re driven around again, visiting the projects.

First, we go to the orphanage.
DSC_1170There had been a fire, so the dormitories upstairs are currently under construction. A previous volunteer has sponsored the new roof, how cool is that!
For now they will have to make do with the big room downstairs. It functions as classroom; there is a table and a rickety whiteboard, a library; there are some books lying around, and some wooden benches to sit on, and common room at the same time…
The bunkbeds are set up in the open kitchen on the other side of the grounds for now.
Another under-construction project is the new lavatory; a little concrete bunker housing toilets and an outdoor shower.
Behind the fence is a pond where the kids love to go swimming. We’re a bit dazed by it’s filthy colour. But it’s the only water in the proximity, and with the local temperatures, a dive every now and then is a necessity.
The kids come across as very happy though, playing out there with the chickens and ducks and the dog with her newborn pups. They don’t look starved, they don’t look neglected, they really do look very happy.

We visit one school, but it won’t be the one where we’ll be teaching and are only quickly shown the grounds.

Then we go to meet our school.
We are introduced to the principal; a slender lady that is more shy about her English and meeting us, than we are about our Khmer.
On the playground I photograph a group of little boys. When I wave them over to come look at the results, they’re pushing and shoving eachother so rough to see I have to put a stop to it.
Mr Ya also runs a private school in this town but we skip that for now.

And then we have a traditional Khmer cooking class!
Annette put down all these ingredients on a plaid on the kitchen floor, and the three of us gather around. Mr Ya sits down as well to help out where Annette’s English might fall short, though it doesn’t.

We will be making Sawa beef soup. Starting by making a paste out of the following:Cooking lesson.
– cut-up spring unions
– lemongrass
– orange and regular ginger
– garlic
– mint leaves and
– grey fishpaste
In the hot frying pan it goes.
Chunks of beef, sugar, salt and another seasoning they can’t name any further are added, then some sour and let it sit for a while.
Then some water and cut-up morningglory shoots come in, stew for 5 more minutes, and done.

Instead of morningglory one could use eggplant, but this is fresher, and cheaper too.
Either way, it smells delish!
As with any dish here fruit will be on the side, pineapple this time, and Annette shows us how to cut them in those fancy bits. She then adds some sugar and salt; to make it better…?
We’re set down to eat separate from the family again, and all agree that salt should not be added to pineapple, nor does it need more sugar.

As a way of ending the culture ‘week’ we go for a big ride out this afternoon. We pass the lake at the end of town and go further into the Khmer flatlands, the really remote areas. It reminds me of savannah, so dry and red is it out here. In the few bushes of banana trees are little cottages, not what you’d call luxurious – most would probably even say poor and pitiful, but especially the latter I have to contradict; such happy cheers come from the families living on every single estate.
happy family

[Sorry to say photoshop has quit on me, so I can’t properly resize the pics to fit the text #firstworldproblems]

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