Monday, February 9, 2009

Arrived in Cambodia Finally!

2/8/09 - 4:30pm, Sunday - Royal Hotel
As I traveled in a cab from the airport to the hotel, the streets reminded me of driving through parts of Mexico - dirty, small stands with locals selling produce and bread, eating together on the sidewalk outside of their very small businesses. So many scooters driving in and out of traffic - with 1,2, and even 3 people on it. Lots of traffic but light I understand due to it being Sunday. As we pull up to the hotel, I'm amazed how big and beautiful it is. It reminded of the hotel in the Killing Fields which felt unsettling throughout my body. It felt odd to be staying at a 5-star hotel knowing the children that brought me here. We head to CCF1, it all becomes reality as I see the sign and smile at the beautiful children. We meet Scott who is an amazing, loving, kind human being as he plays and talks to the children. Some children are able to spend Sundays with family members if they are safe while others stay. As Suzanne is sitting on the floor, talking to a few children, I join her. I am asked "How old are you?" by these deep brown eyes, the cutest smile with a couple of teeth missing. My heart melts and I am nowhere else but speaking to these children. Scott knows them all by name and each of their stories. I tell him it's amazing what he has done and he looks at me smiles and said "wait, you haven't seen anything yet. I sit with my heart filled with compassion as I hear a woman who survived the Khmer Rouge but lost her parents and extended family totaling approximately 15 people. She was left alone at 16 years old. Scars on her legs from falling from trees trying to get a piece of fruit to eat - a heavy heart and tears running down here face as she claims her mother died becausee of her. The sadness filled my heart as the woman explained her mother died of malnutrition so she would have food. She repeatedly stated "there were so many people like this, not just her." She now works for CCF understanding how difficult it is to be hungry and how she would eat anything (insects, lizard, cockroaches) just to survive. After her, we broke up into groups of 5 because there were 4 other survivors willing to share their story. I sat and listened as the older man's story was translated. 5-6 bullets still in him - I not only saw his physical pain but the sadness and emotional pain he still carries. His 2 daughters are at CCF who Scott mentions are amazing young girls - one is 17 and the other around 14. His wife is very sick with TB. He was a soldier under the government prior to the Pol Pot regime and became a farmer when the Khmer Rouge took over not wanting to be a part of it. He is presently 67 years old therefore being in his early 30's during the Khmer Rouge. He is thankful for Scott and tears fills his eyes as he hopes his daughter's lives are better than his. I could only feel sadness trying to comprehend what these people endured.