2/16/09 - Monday
The whole group is off to a village located about a 90 minute bus ride from Phnom Penh. It's truly a blessing to escape the city and drive through the beautiful countryside filled with fields of lotus flowers. The village was created by guess who - of course, Scott. There are 2 acres of land and housed about 10 families. Again these families as Scott puts it were "Good Families" from the garbage dump. For them, it's like hitting the lottery. There are beautiful homes, community and fresh air. What a blessing to be away from the city - hopefully to give my lungs a rest. I've had a hacking cough since I've been here from the smog and the toxic air. Scott never doing any of this before put stakes in the ground for a swimming pool - not realizing it "the world's largest swimming pool" is created. His hope is to have the children come from the CC and CCF to swim and camp out. The people again are so welcoming and we are there to help them plant vegetables. They graciously show us how to "hoe" the dirt and create rows where the seeds will be planted for some a very familiar activity for me being from Brooklyn - a whole new skill. We all begin, some hoeing, others pulling out weeds, while others smoothed out the dirt. It's extremely hot, with the sun scorching down on us. I feel light headed and dizzy and step into the shade. I laugh as I look at our crooked rows. The people are watching, talking and laughing. We were convinced they were laughing at our work but still very appreciative. We break for lunch and I walk around the village somehow communicating with the people. A smile is universal. After lunch, back out to the fields to plant seeds of bok choy, kale and parsnips. I would love to go back in a year and witness our planting. Would there be huge patches of bok choy while other spots have only 1 parsnip? (lol) We all head back to the hotel for a shower and dinner after a long, hot day in the fields. Unbelievably, a very special person comes to speak with us. It wasn't planned, she ended up being in Cambodia, recognized Sean Corn - they spoke and what more can I say then the Universe always provides when you are open to it. Loung Ung - the author of First They Killed My Father joins us. For those of you not aware of this book, I would strongly suggest a must read. It's her story of her and her families' struggle and survival throughout the Khmer Rouge. She is a wonderful, strong, loving person. It is such an honor to be in her presence. As she begins speaking my ears are wide open listening to every single word. She is funny, strong, sensitive, powerful in a very small, petite frame. I could tell it's the same young girl who ran from the Pol Pot Regime 30 years ago to survive. She shares about her love for her husband with his "juicy ass". (lol) And her love for her parents, siblings, and Cambodia pour out of her heart. She lives in Ohio but has visited Cambodia approximately 30 times since she escaped. Her visits include seeing a couple of siblings who never left Cambodia. But this time besides that she was here for the Tribunal - the trial for Duch, the math teacher turn leader of the S21 Prison. This is the very first trial for the Pol Pot Regime which happened from 1975-1979 - 34 years ago. It was a very special gift to have her share her life with us.