2/10/09 - Tuesday
What a great day! Amazing I could say that after where I was today. Don't get me wrong it was a day full of sadnes and "bare witnessing" the most unbelievable and horrific living conditions. I'm sure the practice with Seane helped me "to be with it" today and "to just show up" which is exactly what I did. The first part of the day was spent at the Community Center (CC). It was started by Scott and has about 70 children a day from the ages 3-6. They spend the day there while the parents are out working in the "dump". There is also medical assistance for the community in which close to 700 people showed up last month. Vanny the woman who spoke the first day about surviving the Khmer Rouges manages it. My heart jumps the minute we pull up and see the children in the distance. There were extra sandwiches, we cut up and distributed to the children. They were in a room watching TV. The staff brought 5 out at a time to get a sandwich. Oh my God, they were adorable - each and everyone put their palms together and said "thank you". My heart melted. I then spent a couple of hours playing, singing and dancing with them. What a treat! As I sat on the floor, one little girl slid right along side of me - I placed my arm around her and sat her on my lap. She looked up at me and again my heart melted. She was beautiful. Before I knew it there were 3 other children sitting around me. At that point - I knew why raising the money and awareness was so important. I felt so happpy and fulfilled. I couldn't think of another place I would rather be. Sally took a picture of us and the children got the biggest kick of seeing themselves on the camera. Kids just swarmed all over me. I laughed, smiled and loved them all. We sang and danced. Each child was so special - like all children all they wanted was love and affection. I couldn't hold enough of them. It was the best time! I knew the constant challenges I faced throughout the past year - the horrific day I had yesterday was all necessary for me "to show up today". At one point, a very special moment, the first little girl who "fed"me grapes, bananas, cherries, and all kinds of fruit put 2 little beautiful pink flowers behind my ears. I couldn't squeeze her hard enough. The joy these children brought me was amazing. They are so beautiful with their deep brown eyes and the cutest smiles. No matter where you are - children are children. The moment I heard Sally say it was time to got to the dump - I looked at her and said "I'm staying here with the children". I didn't want to leave - I was having too much fun. So I put on my big black boots and 4 of us headed to the "dump" with Scott. As we are driving there - the poverty around us is unreal. Scott seems to know everyone and all of their stories. A tour bus is at the dump as we arrive - Scott shares his disgust with us as people are taking pictures. This is not a sight seeing place - people and children are trying to survive and live here. I was not allowed to take pictures - rightfully so - but I will never forget what I "bare witnessed". Scott manuevers around the dump with such grace looking for children or families he could assist. He approached a couple of families and provided them with information to come into the CCF Community Center for a bag of rice. It's the one way he found of getting them there. Once they are there, they may be convinced to bring the children there on a regular basis while the parent works at the garbage dump. He approached one woman, pregnant, who had 2 children - it's very difficult to estimate their age because of the malnutrition. It was wonderful because by the time we got back to the CC she was there with her 2 young girls. I walked through piles and piles of shit, broken glass, syringes, toxic and chemical waste - hundreds of flies in this thick cloud of smoke. We were joined by three young girls who live on the dump - one with no shoes whose mother is dying, another beautiful, spunky, vibrant girl who has full blown HIV and is dying and another girl, 17 years old (of course she looks about 12 years old) with flip flops on. (I gave her my sandals when we got back to the CC who she gave to her sister without shoes even though they were too big for her - the young girl was so happy flooping around in my big sandals.) The young girl with no shoes put her arm around me as I wrapped my arm around her strolling through the dump. A huge bulldozer seems to be following us and Scott informs us about 2 children a month get run over by it. Adults and children picking through garbage, many of them with a scarf around their face hoping to be protected from the toxins, smell and the scorching sun. They spend the entire day out there - possibly making .30 cents a day. At night, they send their children out with lights on their head, to continue searching through the garbage. Families not only live around the dump but on it. We walked right through it. I looked and smiled at people and with all they endured, they warmly smiled back. At one point, a child with brightness in her eyes came running over to me. My eyes got even wider as I recognized her from the CC. I picked her up and she made me so happy. A woman, (forgive me for not remembering the names or how to spell it) who just had a 3-week old baby and Scott is the Godfather generously offers us to come into her home. The space is very small, filthy but the woman smiles while breast feeding her baby. This woman smiles with such beauty never knowing her 7-year old son went to a school one day and never came home. Scott imagines it was trafficking of children and the boy would be 15 years old today. These are just a couple of stories - each person had one horrific story after another and Scott knew many of them, if not all. Many times a husband leaves and a woman remarries - the new husband does not want the children from the previous marriage. They leave the children at the dump. Parents die and children just make their way to the dump to try to survive. I am so grateful for Scott and all he has done to save these children's lives. I am truly witnessing all the money we raised is saving lives.