Last Day-School Site

 Posted by at 6:36 AM
Jan 292014
 

 

I wish i had some more pictures for you… I did take a bunch but have apparently exceeded the memory on my laptop and am unable to upload any of them…. Ill get them up ASAP.

The morning is bittersweet as its my last morning of waking up in Cambodia, but its a very exciting day for the foundation!! Was up at 4:30am getting packed and ready to leave and to spend the day out at Dong Tong viewing the site for our school. We have decided that if we could add to an existing school, it would be better serving the village. If we get 3 buildings built of brick and mortar on this site, it will then become a government recognized school and the children would then have the ability to graduate from here and go to high school. This is going to be every bit a community project as we will be teaming up with an NGO from Norway to get this project completed. I feel and so do the others involved that this will better serve all of our efforts and will have the greatest impact on the area that we are working in. The plot for the school is 110 meters by 110 meters. Its huge!! We are going to be able to have a huge playground for the children out front of it as well. There will be plenty of more details to come as we progress in our build and break ground. But just know now that by the time the project is complete, we will be serving probably close to 500 kids!!!

It was a very long day of travel and I have about 36 hours of travel starting again for myself in about an hour.

I wanted to get this thought out to you all before I left though as it just sort of dawned on me….. Just with the “Presents for Presence” project we have been able to touch over 1000 children…. with this school project we will be able to serve 500 plus children a year for as long as the school is in operation!!!!! To me, that is pretty remarkable from the other side of the world!! You are all champions to the cause and I greatly appreciate the effort you all have put in to make this a reality for the children of this wonderful country!! By taking on this project, we will effectively be placing not just a government school on these hallowed grounds, but we will be returning money to the demining efforts in this country… and the numbers of people we will reach is seemingly un-measureable.

 

I love you all and ill see you all very soon!!!

School visits

 Posted by at 6:38 AM
Jan 282014
 

Today we were up very early and on the road. We left around 7:30am to head out to a school that I got to visit last time I was here. Monkey Head Lake school. Its a very long and bumpy road out to the school but so worth it. Its a tiny building and there are about 60 kids there. I had just enough presents left for them too.

When we arrived, we unloaded the van of all the school supplies we were taking them and walked about a quarter mile to the school. The roads were to bad to drive all the way in this time.

As we got into the classroom, I began handing the presents out with Bill and Jill. As I do every time we do this, I do my best to assure every child gets one so I pay very close attention to the children… And now this picture is from this year….. I hope you notice the beanies… I had no beanies left to give out when we got to this school.

I stood their for what seemed like an eternity staring at these two girls and my heart was melting. I know that we have an impact on all the people that we meet, but I did not expect this. It has been a year since I was last at this school and handed those beanies out to them. I could not believe that on the day we show up they had them on. This was not planned and they obviously did not know I was coming. Everyone that was on the ride out there was sort of in shock and glowing… I may sound like a broken record but this was an incredibly powerful moment..These presents are more than just toys and that get used and discarded. They are cherished. They are important to each child in its own unique way. I could not stop myself from saying it over and over again to everyone that “those are the beanies from last year!”  It was beautiful!!!

 

 

We then left and headed to another school that was about 2 hours away. I was out of presents though…. We had plenty of school supplies to take in though. This was a quick stop as we had a 4 hour ride back to town and it was getting late.

The drive back was quite as everyone was pretty tired. I was sitting staring out the window, and again, taken by the beauty of the countryside. Its so hard to imagine that someplace so gorgeous and peaceful, could hide potential disaster.

Its always humbling being here and it definitely drives home why we are doing what we are. Thank you all for being on this great adventure and being so giving of yourselves for a people and a country.

Tomorrow we are off to see the site that Complete Cambodia will be part of the building of a new school!!!!!

Day at the Museum

 Posted by at 6:31 AM
Jan 282014
 

Had a very interesting day to say the least… I want to apologize for not getting this posted yesterday as I was having some issues with the internet..

Got up and again packed a bag full of presents to give to the children that live in the orphanage behind the landmine museum. I met Eng out in front of the hostel and we headed out. It takes about 45min normally by tuk tuk… however today took us a while longer.

The drive is amazing because it takes you through Angkor Wat. Its absolutely gorgeous and peaceful.. You drive along the water and through all these wonderful little villages.

About 25 min into our journey….. we blew a tire. Normally this would have been a huge problem. However, as we rumbled down the road, Eng was able to coast the tuk tuk into a repair shop that just happened to be close.. This is where it got interesting.

There was a man laying in the hammock out front of the shop. It was obvious he also lived there. As we cam to a stop he poked his face out from under his hat and realized we needed his help. As he went to get up, he reached over the side of the hammock and picked up his crutches.. He jumped up and that is when I realized he was missing a leg. He was a below the knee amputee. I then noticed the wheel chair that was sitting slightly just inside the shop that was loaded with his tools.

 

 

 

 

The more I thought about what was happening, the more I realized that its not just coincidence. This is the reality…. More often than not, you will come across someone that has been in some way effected by landmines. That is almost the first thought you have when you see someone missing a limb or confined to a wheelchair. Sure enough, he had been in the Cambodian Army and lost his leg to a landmine in 1988.

I continue to gain perspective while I am here. As many people I have encountered through my times spent here…. There are still 3-5 million potential victims out there. There are that many mines or unexploded ordnance left in the ground. It almost seems unreal when you talk about it like that, but I have been seeing it and it continues to be more real every time.

After we got the tire fixed we headed to the museum where I was meeting Bill and Jill. I had the privilage of being able to walk with Bill as he gave guided tours. Every know and then I get to interject something and I would like to thank Bill for making me feel valued while I was there..

I went back to the school/orphanage and spent the rest of the day in the classrooms. Getting a better understanding of how they teach these students and what things are needed for the schools. I gained a lot from this as we are going to be building our own school pretty soon!!! I also handed out the presents and as usual, the children were super excited to play with everything in the bags..

I have said this at the end of everyday that I am here and I will continue to forever… I Had another amazing day and Im so at peace here….

What a day!!!

 Posted by at 8:01 PM
Jan 262014
 

I started the day off by packing my backpack full of gifts… I was very excited to get back to Tonle Sap lake. I had visited it on my first trip and I have been wanting to get back there ever since.

So Eng and I headed back. Its a bit of a drive especially in a tuk tuk. When we arrived we got onto one of the boats and headed out on the lake. It was all so familiar….. The smells, the sounds, and seeing all the people. They all take great pride in their boats… as it is their home as well. 

We handed out all our bags and even gave out some bracelets.. I think the pictures will tell the story better than I can from this visit.

 

 

 

I hope you can see the little baby in this picture…. She is already wearing her new clothes.

 

 

 

 

After the day was through at the lake, my tuk tuk driver Eng invited me to his house for dinner.. I of course agreed to go and was so thankful that he would be willing to welcome me into his home.

What an evening we had. I met just about everyone in his village. They all came over to Eng’s house and were all so kind. We sat around the table for hours talking and laughing. Even though we did not speak the same language we all were able to relate to each other. I felt as if I had known these men for years!!!! I also got to spend a lot of time with Eng’s daughter who is 5. She was a riot. Luckily I had a few presents in my camera bag and was able to give her and her cousin each one.

 

They were both so adorable and absolutely loved their gifts.

For dinner we had snake soup. And it was amazing… I kid you not, one of the best meals I have had in a long time. We all sat and ate out of this giant bowl of soup for hours… And so did everyone in the village. People would walk by or ride by on a bike and Eng and all his friends would yell to them to come in and eat… and they all did. Such a community here. Its seems to be that way everywhere I go in Cambodia. I love this place and I will surely miss my new friends..

 

 

 

Day 2

 Posted by at 2:40 AM
Jan 252014
 

The day started off amazingly!!! I was able to meet up with Bill and Jill Morse this morning for breakfast at a little cafe down the street from where Im staying. We sat and caught up for a couple hours… We are up to great things here. We made plans for the week and I will be at the museum/orphanage on Monday working with everyone there. Tuesday we will be making visits to two different schools. Wednesday we are visiting the site where the school WE are going to be building is located!!! I cannot wait for that!! To see all this work that you all have put in become a reality is going to be beautiful!!!

After we had breakfast I headed back to the hostel to meet up with my tuk tuk driver… We had planned on visiting some villages and schools way outside of town. It was really awesome meeting up with him yesterday and knowing that he gets what we are trying to do. He was just as excited as me to get out there and interact with the kids in the outlying areas..

And here are a few pictures from the day…. Yes the bubbles were an absolute hit yet again..

I took video of all the children and showing them what everything was in the bag. I am still taken back at how some of the things we take for granted… Some of the kids came out to me as we were leaving asking what the shampoo was or what the soap was…

However their faces were all lit up when we showed up and took them all into the classroom to hand them their presents.. Watching them with the toys and building them their airplanes and flying them… I wish you all could have been there. Hopefully some of the pictures can show how happy they were. I will have to get the video uploaded at some point so you can hear their non-stop laughter. Its truly amazing how you all have come together and really bought in on “Presents for Presence”… your presence is very much felt here in Cambodia.

We then headed down the road to a different school. This is where we handed out most of the clothes and beanies… Now this was the first time we had ever handed out clothes.. Let me tell you that this had just as much if not more of an impact on the children and me… Now most of clothes we had was for boys and so I gave the girls beanies as well (some of the boys too) and their reaction was incredible. They have siblings at home and through my tuk tuk driver, he was saying that they were all talking about taking the clothes home to their younger brothers. That really drives home what we are doing. This is all about community and how we all are taking care of each other. These children get it and I got to learn something from them today. Its not about what is in it for me, but what can I do with what I have to help others…. I really believe thats the lesson we can all take away from this today…

We then just started driving down the road and pulling off if we saw a home that had little children or babies. We had a lot of baby clothes left and we both felt this was the best way to get them to where they are needed. We stopped a few times to hand out the clothes and visit with the people. Yet again, everyone was so grateful….

 

 

All and all we had another amazing day handing out the presents and clothes on your behalf. It was really a pleasure to get to do this with someone that was just as enthusiastic about as I am. My tuk tuk driver gets just as much of a kick out of it as I do. He gets really excited to know that we are heading out to help and give gifts to the people of his country….. He got even more excited when I told him I had more and that we will be going back out tomorrow!!!!!

 

 

My First Day Back

 Posted by at 5:24 PM
Jan 242014
 

I spent most of the day walking through Siem Reap… I can not explain what its like to be back again.. Its like a long awaited trip home.. It is an overwhelming sense of peace. I have missed being here so much.

I met this man today while walking through town. His name is Mot Douk. He told me his story and relayed to me that there are many people like him that get no support from the government. Even after giving their limbs and almost their lives for their country.

And yet this man, a father of 4, does not beg. He does not speak of his plight unless asked directly. He lost his arms 22 years ago from a landmine blast……

We continued to speak of what it is I was doing here, and where I am from and what we are setting out to accomplish.. Like so many before, he was surprised, and very grateful..

I was quickly reminded yet again at the power of conversation. Its moments like this that has brought our foundation to where its at. Its because of Mot Douk and the many like him that we are here…

I headed back to the hostel and ran into my tuk tuk driver from last year!!!! We talked about other schools to visit and possibly heading back to the rehab facility that I was removed from on the first trip. It was again a reminder of the impact we are having here. The fact that he remembered me and recalled what we did together last time gave me such a sense that we are always here. He drives people around everyday… and he remembered me….

 

 

 

 

Apr 262013
 

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by one of our biggest supporters Zeb Welborn. Zeb has been with us since the very beginning and with his sister, are the ones responsible for our website. Thank you Zeb for considering me for your podcast. It was a pleasure and I hope you all enjoy listening!!!!

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/defining-success-podcast/id619459909

Jan 282013
 

January 27, 2013

 

I have been home for a few days now. I have spent most of that time in bed because I have been really sick. Not to sure what I got, but it has totally knocked me out. Today is really the first time I have felt well enough to be up for more than an hour or two. I would like to share more about something I touched on in an earlier blog. I mentioned that it is not easy leaving Cambodia. I have been thinking a lot about that, and why I feel the way I do. I would like to elaborate for you…..

I have done a lot of traveling in my life. I feel fortunate that I have been able to see so many different cultures and meet so many amazing people throughout the world.  I have traveled to third world countries as well as some of the most modern. And my travels have kept me in different parts of the world for months at a time. 2 months all through South America into Patagonia. 2 months through the UK and Russia. Weeks in Spain and Morocco. From France to Switzerland. I have also traveled extensively throughout the US and Canada. I can say, without a doubt, I have never been anywhere in the world thus far, that is like Cambodia. This is not meant to offend anyone. I have truly loved the experiences I have had in other parts of the world. Its different there.

The more I am away, the more I realize what it is that constantly draws me back to Cambodia. It isn’t just the cause. I love what we are doing. I am passionate about what we are doing. What it is, is the people. You can walk down any street and see smiles. You can meet any one person and they are happy to see you. THEY DONT EVEN KNOW YOU??!! I see love in their faces. You feel loved in their presence. And its not only when we are visiting a school or orphanage. You could be sitting in a sidewalk restaurant or driving down a dirt road in a “tuk tuk” and you will feel it. From the kids waving and saying “hello” as you drive by, or catching the eye of someone casually walking. Love and affinity for the general sense of people, is alive and thriving. You cant help but be consumed by it. It brings peace to your being, to your soul. It puts your mind at ease. To be in a country where potential disaster lurks in the fields near schools and villages, one would think you should be stressed out. And don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when the threat is very real, however, we move forward and ahead with our mission.

In a country where it would be extremely easy and just for the people to complain, they don’t. They do understand the need, but they don’t demand it. As a society, they are making what they have work. And what they have an abundance of is community, love for everyone, and strength. When I break it all down to its simplest form, it really is a model for the world. The sense of unity. The feeling that at any moment, the person that doesn’t have much, would give you what they have if you were in need, is palpable.

We should all be proud that we have nurtured that by “Our” presence there. It really is an easy concept to buy into. What we are accomplishing and for what our mission is, its truly every sense of serving our fellow “man”. Standing for others, when we could easily chose not to. I have to say that the ideals surrounding Complete Cambodia, are truly Cambodian. I know that all of us involved feel very strongly about what we have committed to getting done. I want to take it a step further. These ways of being for others within the confines of this foundation, take them into your personal life. Assure that the love and affinity that I described from being in Cambodia is alive and thriving here as well. As I am sure it is already present in your own lives, lets see if we can create more of an abundance around us. The thing that I have learned from my time spent in Cambodia is that we cant measure this way of being. That is to say that we can never have enough.  It will not only do amazing things for the foundation and our mission, but imagine what it would do here on a daily basis. Taking a stand for each other here, at home, like you have for people on the other side of the globe. It will be powerful……….I am sure of it.