Early in 2000, we were privileged to be helping Save the Children and the Siem Reap Provincial Education Authority in the Khmer Rouge Reconciliation Areas of Cambodia. The people had suffered terribly, being cut off from the rest of the country since 1979, the “official” end of the Khmer Rouge everywhere else. Reconciliation in these areas only really started in 1999, after Pol Pot’s death. Until then, there was little effective schooling and very primitive health care.
We travelled to a small village called Trapeang Prasat, which took over 6 hours by landcruiser, on dirt roads. There, we met one of the families. Lovely people, and the mother was holding a young child who had physical and some mental disabilities.
As things progressed from 2000, schooling was put properly in place by Save the Children.
We travelled back several times, and in 2002 met the lady again. She was a very active community leader, serving amongst other things on the equivalent of the PTA. And she was a very proud Mum. Her children were doing double shifts to “catch up”. We took her picture with the same child, and we had already sent her the earlier picture.
The moral of the story?
Women make the world go around. And given even the smallest opportunities, they always take maximum advantage of them in the service of their families and the community at large. It’s Women’s Day every day.
It was a most humbling experience, and today our family still feels rather emotional about Cambodia and our very good friends there.
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Notes: First image taken with Nikon D1, second with Nikon D1X