Jan 242013
 

January 25, 2013

 

As I am now in China waiting to board the plane to Los Angeles, I am beginning to take some deep breaths. Our second journey is close to completion. Im taking more time now to reflect on the past 9 days, and its tough. I will confess that as much joy as these trips bring, with that comes equally as much heartache. And please don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything else Id rather be doing. I am always present to why we go and how much I am drawn to this cause. Its leaving that is hard. When you know that there is so much to be done, and you have to go. When all you want to do is take every child with you, and help every Man and Woman in any way you can. We have created so many smiles and brightened so many peoples day, that all I want to do is stay and continue to do so.

From visiting Rea, interviewing him and meeting his family to being in the field with CSHD, the trip has moved so fast. I have gone through so many emotions from extreme joy to anguishing over wanting to do more. The pictures do tell the story. I see in the photos, my experience and I hope you do to. I can relive those moments without the pictures, but it is powerful to sit and look in the eyes of the people we have touched. It presents me to what an impact WE are having.

I hope everyone at home reading this gets what an important part you have all played in this. Really get that your presence was felt on the other side of the globe. We had 47 volunteers build bags and bring donated gifts that were delivered to over 500 people. YOU impacted that many lives. People whom you’ll never meet. I consider it a gigantic privilege to have acted on your behalf. I continue to read how proud of me you all are and Im grateful for the praise. However, this is happening because of you. You all are what makes up Complete Cambodia. You all were cause in the smiles. You all are the reason that there is hope in Cambodia. Please take a moment and reflect for yourself what YOU ALL have accomplished.

This trip has been a huge success. I want to thank the Cambodian Self Help De-mining organization for all they contributed to our time in Cambodia. I would like to also thank Bill and Jill Morse again for all the time they spent with us and organizing the overnight trip to the mine field. Last but not least, Aki Ra. I want to give a resounding thank you to him for all he is doing and has done for his people. To be in the presence of such a great man was an honor. I look forward to seeing them all very soon. This journey has created more than just partnerships, Its created what I foresee as life long friendships.

I cant imagine a life any different then this. I am at times surprised at where we are with the foundation in such a short period of time. At the same time, I am reminded that its because of everyone that has taken the time to get involved. You didn’t have to and you made a choice to stand for others. We have all taken on something bigger than ourselves, and in my eyes, that is living and living powerfully. The more people that get involved, the more momentum we create. And who knows where we will be in the future with our mission, but with supporters like you all, I am clear that we will Complete Cambodia.

Again, thank you all so much for all you have been for me. What an extraordinary group of people you truly are. And I have to give a special thanks to Amanda McKinnon, my cousin, for coming on this trip and documenting it. She did such an amazing job and is so talented. Im proud and thankful that you were here.

See you soon Cambodia!!!!! I will miss you!!!!!

 

More pictures to come soon.. I promise.

Jan 232013
 

January 23, 2013

 

This morning started out at 8:30. We got to sleep in a little bit after our night in the field with the CSHD team. Bill and Jill Morse picked us up and we headed out to Monkey Head Lake School. This is one of the schools that they have built in an area that was cleared by CSHD. At present time, HALO and CMAC are still clearing large plots of land in this area. The area being close to the Thai border was heavily mined and there was a lot of fighting in this region during the Khmer Rouge.

We drove for close to 5 hours out to the village. The roads were mostly dirt for the last 2 hours and since the GPS didn’t work out where we were, we kept having to stop to make sure we were headed the right direction. Eventually the village Chief met us on his motto and we followed him in to the school.

The school is not large but it does serve its purpose. It was probably 400 square foot, wood sided building with a tin roof. It was serving close to 65 kids. The nature of the trip was to deliver some school supplies and pay the teacher his wages for the last 9 months. Imagine that….. working and not getting paid for 9 months? The teacher of this school is an extraordinary person. That just goes to show you how wonderful these people are and how much they do care about the future of these young people.

 

 

We met all the kids and handed out the supplies. Then we handed out the presents. Its always exciting to see the looks on the kids faces. A lot of the parents were there too and to see the expression of gratitude from them is something I will never forget. It really drives home how special what you all have done truly is. It affects everyone. To watch the parents play with the kids as they open up the bags……I am at a loss for words to describe it.

We also enjoy opening the bags with the kids just the same. When the kids find out what it is that’s in them and we show them how to play with the toys, their smiles could light up the sky. They are instantly moved to laughter, as are we.

We finished up by Bill and I showing the kids how to throw a frisbee. It continues to amaze me how the little things in life we never really think about. It goes back to the showing the kids what crayons are…….. However, giving them something that they have never seen before is really an awesome experience.

Before we headed home, we had lunch at the village Chief’s house. He had cooked for us to show his appreciation. We sat on a huge table and ate rice with eggs and vegetables. We all chatted and shared a few laughs. I took a stroll around the area. They had chickens and pigs. A lot of dogs running around and a bird that spoke Khmer!!! Directly across the road was a CMAC camp. I didn’t stroll very far as I knew they were de-mining in the area.

We headed back to Siem Reap. It was going to be a long ride home but well worth the trip. I have a better idea now how to build and fund a school. This will be a project that Complete Cambodia will be taking on with the CSHD. Together we can get more done and quicker. As we left the school I timed it till I saw another school. It was almost 45 minutes before we came across another primary school. I couldn’t believe it. In Los Angeles it seems like every 10 blocks you can find an elementary school. That shows you just how great the need is….

As we got closer to Siem Reap, we blew a tire on the van. We were probably only 25 minutes from home. The driver and I changed it in about 15 minutes and we were back on our way. They dropped us of at Molly’s and we said our goodbye’s. I cant thank Bill and Jill Morse for all they have done for us. As much as we are in support of them, I feel like they are just as, if not more supportive of us. I really look forward to working together. I know we are going to accomplish great things, and with velocity!!!!

We are headed home to the states tomorrow. I want to thank you all again for being so amazing!!

Jan 222013
 

January 22, 2013

 

We made it back safe and sound!! What another amazing expierence!! This was by far the most enlightening part of the trip as far as the needs of the de-mining teams. I first want to thank Bill Morse and Aki Ra for allowing us to spend the night with the team in the field. I would also like to extend much grattitude to the entire de-mining team that took us in as their own last night. What an honor it was for me to be with them for the last 40 hours or so.

We headed out in the morning yesterday around 7:30am. We had a very long ride out to the Laos border. It took close to 6 hours to get there. The last 2-2 1/2 hours were along a very bumpy and slow moving dirt road. We were all piled into a van so it wasnt so bad. We talked most of the way with Aki Ra and Bill. Heard more stories of how Aki Ra used to de-mine, and how they got established to where the CSHD is today.  We also got a nap in on the ride as we were sure we wouldnt be getting to much sleep.

We arrived at the hut that the team is staying at and unloaded a few things. Then we were off to the field. It was about a mile down the road and probably less than that to a village of men, woman, and children. We suited up and got a short briefing on safety and began the long walk towards the active site. We had body armor on with helmets and shields to protect our faces. We were wearing the exact same equipment the de-miners wear. It was extremely hot and cumbersome, and probably weighed close to 10 pounds.

We entered the site and began walking the line. The teams work 25 meters apart at all times, so they are hard to pick out from a distance, and they are working in dense vegetation. They manually clear the vegetation with shears and if working, a weed whacker. Its a painstakingly slow and tedious process. Each member of the team clears roughly 100 meters a day. They work in 1 meter wide grids throughout the field all working towards the center. After they have cleared the vegetation and cleared the area with their metal detectors they burn off the field. So as we were walking around, there were fires burning all around. It really felt like a war zone. And also added to the anxiety of being in a mine field as you can imagine.

As we walked through the field, Aki Ra showed me the UXO (unexploded ordinance) that has been found so far. It was mostly cluster munitions that were American made. He also showed us a crater from a 500lb bomb that was on the site. We continued walking through the field watching the team at work. You really get a great sense of how focused each de-miner is when you see them at work. It takes great patience to do this job. They have very strict procedures to follow and I stood next to one of the de-miners as they were using their tools to probe the dirt. They had found something with the metal detector and before they can move on, they must find out what it is. I was kind of frozen as I watched. I was so focused on what they were doing that I forgot how close I was to potential disaster if it detonated. Bill whispered to me, “Steve, you probably want to move yeah?” I came out of the daze or tunnel vision I was in and we all moved on.

We headed back to the area that the UXO were and Aki Ra set them up for detonation. As he did that we moved on to a safe distance. 250 meters is the standard for all detonations. Aki Ra and Sambo came back to where we were with the remote detonation device. We were instructed to put our shields down and kneel. He gave a 3 count and then detonated the TNT. Even expecting the explosion doesnt prepare you. You could feel the pressure in your chest from the blast. It sent a could about 40 feet high. We could hear debris flying over our heads and landing behind us. It was intense. I could only imagine what it would be like if a mine had gone off. Or if I mine had gone off in close proximity to us. The devastation that would occur is something we cant comprehend. You see the pictures of people that have been injured and lost limbs, but the psychological damage that you would sustain from living through something like that……..It was something I really hadnt thought a lot about yet. Being there, for a detonation gave me a different prespective to what victims of these blast must live with everyday…… and we were 250 meters away.

We loaded the trucks back up and headed back to the camp. We set up our hammocks and unloaded all the supplies for the night. The team began cooking dinner and working on their equipment. One of the trucks had gotten a hole in the radiator, so myself and 3 of the other team members did what we could to repair it. We pulled it out and used basically JB weld to hold it till they could get someone out there with a torch. We finished working on the truck using light only from head-lamps. The rest of the team during that time was sitting behind the hut being taught how to read. They do this every night for about an hour. We all then had dinner together. We ate noodles and vegetables with rice. We sat around and chatted for a while. The sun goes down around 6:30, so by 8 most everyone is getting in their hammocks and getting some rest.

I got in my hammock and was in heaven. Even reflecting on the days events, I was so at peace. You could hear dogs howling in the distance. Crickets chirping away all night. There was a light, cool breeze. I could stay out here forever…..

We all got up around 6am, as thats about the time the sun rises. We all ate breakfast and broke down camp, loaded up the truck and headed back to the mine field. We talked more in depth about the de-mining operations throughout Cambodia as well as the site we were at. We walked through the field and again I was in awe of the work the de-miners do. The pictures do tell the story, however, without standing by and watching them, I dont know if you can get how impressive it truly is. I held one of the metal detectors and you can feel how after an extended amount of time, they get real heavy. And its only 8am and probably 80 degrees and with our equipment on, 90-95 degrees. Only to get hotter as the day goes on.

We headed back to camp after a few hours and talked some more with Aki Ra and we shared a laugh reflecting on our breakfast in Los Angeles a few months ago. We said our goodbyes and many thanks to everyone for being so amazing to us. I really felt like I was part of the team. I am extremely proud that I was able to have this expierence with these men and woman. I might even have an opportunity to fill in as their medic for a 26 day deployment in a few months, and it would be an honor to serve in that capacity for them. They are all MY HERO’S…..

 

Amanda and I got back to where we are staying and grabbed some dinner and headed out to get our feet massaged by fish!!!! I cant really explain it other than sticking your bare feet into a giant aquarium. It was BIZARE!!!!

Off to sleep now. We are headed out to one of the schools that the CSHD organization has built to see how its done and so we can get a better idea of what its going to take to build our own. There should be a lot of kids there so we will be taking the last of the “presents” with us..

 

Good night all. I love you and will be seeing you soon.

Jan 202013
 

January 20, 2013

We are heading out in the morning to spend the night in the field with the CSHD organization. We will be with Bill Morse and Aki Ra as well as the de-mining team close to the Lao border. Check in a day or two for the blog about that journey. We will be out of touch for the next few days but I just want you all to know how much you all mean to me and this cause. Im constantly reminded of how lucky I am and these people are to have you all on their side. In my eyes, you all are hero’s

See you all soon

Jan 192013
 

January 19, 2013

 

Woke up this morning surprisingly well rested. The Hostel was not the best, but it definitely worked for us. I met Amanda downstairs and made phone calls to a “tuk tuk” driver our friends at the Pepper Project suggested. I also got in touch with Anna who owns Starling Farm and she is who the Pepper Project gets their pepper from. I wasn’t to sure how the day would unfold but like any other day here, I was sure it was going to be amazing!!

Our driver got to the Hostel and we loaded up again and headed out. We had about an hour ride up to the farm. Almost all dirt roads and very very very bumpy and very very dusty. But it is the only way to travel. You really get a great sense of the communities and the people when you ride around in a “tuk tuk”. All the kids are waving and smiling at you. They are always so happy to see a new/different face. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We got to the farm and walked up to Anna’s house as she met us. Such an amazing lady. So sweet and wiling to just take us in. She sat us in a little cabana that overlooked her land. She told us all about her farm and what they grow. As far as you can see, she owns it. Her husband Mark came down and joined us after a while. He is from Northern Ireland. Solid man. We hit it off immediately. They really had no idea why we were even in Cambodia and we had never met, but they treated us like old friends.

I began to tell them why we are here and about the foundation “we” started. Mark began to tell me all about the history of the land. Kempot and Kep are very close to the Vietnam border. I assumed that there had been a lot of bombing in this region. I had no idea to the extent. The land the farm is on was the last Khmer Rouge holdout. The Khmer general for this region actually lived on the land the farm is on now and the house he was in is still standing. The area is still home to many ex Khmer soldiers according to Mark. They have had the land for about 12 years and they said not long after they bought it, the Khmer Rouge soldiers tried to kick them off the land. He tells a very interesting story about that situation that Im sure he’d appreciate if I kept it private (sorry). Mark also said that this land was heavily mined. CMAC came in and cleared it a number of years ago but during their planting, they found 2 more mines and a mortar rocket. According to Mark, there are still more out there that just haven’t been found…..

As I looked out over the vast landscape that is their property, it was humbling. To think that no more than 20 years ago this area was in conflict. That this area during the Vietnam war was covered with craters left from the bombing runs of the US B-52’s. It really gets you present to how far these people have come, and at the same time, how much more needs to be done.

We toured the farm and ate fresh peeper fight of the vine… VERY HOT!!! I had no idea it was that hot. This is the only place in the world that pepper grows in a coastal climate. Mark was telling me that its because of the soil, the climate, and the fertilizer they use. The pepper that grows here has salt in it from the on shore breeze. Its really an interesting phenomenon. We walked the grounds and headed back up to the house where we ate some fresh mango picked from the farm. We sat and chatted for a while longer. Such an accommodating family. It seems like anywhere we go here, people are just welcoming. Thats just one of the reasons I love this country like I do.

From the farm we headed into Kep for a wonderful ocean front lunch. We hung out there for a while and then jumped back in the “tuk tuk” and headed to Chamkar Bei village. It was about another hour ride on a dirt road to get there. It being saturday there were no kids at the school, so we decided to find them. We stopped in the middle of the village and our driver told all the Mom’s and Dad’s to round up all the kids, and boy did they!!! We had a suit case that had at least 200 bags in it and we handed every single one out in that village. It was so wonderful. Everyone in the village was so thankful and so happy for their “presents”. Most of the parents stood back and watched elated as their child was given a gift. Each child was smiling ear to ear and so excited to see what they got. We opened a few with the kids to show them what the toys were and played with them. Some of them weren’t sure what the shampoo was so we did the best we could at demonstrating for them. One of the things I was most surprised at was that they didn’t know what crayons were. It really got me present to how great these bags are. The kids were so excited when we showed them what the crayons did. It was something completely brand new to them. Even to some of the parents. We had such a good time. This area that the village is in was also occupied by the Khmer Rouge. The village wasn’t even built back to what it is today until 1998. Our driver said he grew up close to here and remembers the Khmer coming into the villages and him hiding underground so he wouldn’t be killed or taken to become a child soldier.

Hearing stories like these from Mark and from our driver about this area and about their experiences really puts it all into perspective. I cant imagine what it must have been like growing up in those conditions or even living in the conditions that they do today. I cant even think how my life would be. It would be so easy for the people of this country to be bitter and upset. But they aren’t. They are happy for what they have. They are excited to see that “we” care about them. What we do for them is only measurable in their smiles, and we could never put a number on that.

Again, you are here with us and with them. The people of Cambodia thank you. I thank you…..

Long Day

 Posted by at 6:36 PM
Jan 182013
 

January 18, 2013

 

I will have more to post tonight. We had a very long day of travel to Kempot that started at 5:30am and didn’t end till close to 9pm this evening.

we found the only hostel we could get to quickly as we are both exhausted and as it turns out, not the best I have ever stayed in but it works.

Up early and off to the farm tomorrow!!!

 

 

Jan 172013
 

January 17,2013

 

Started a little later this morning. We met down stairs around 8:30 for tea and breakfast. We loaded up two backpacks and got in the “tuk tuk” and headed to the landmine museum. We got to the museum and met with the museum coordinator Thea. Bill Morse had called ahead and let them know we were coming. We got a guided tour of the museum that was of course better then when I was here alone last time. We walked and talked for about an hour. Gained some more insight into the genocide as well as the Vietnam War and the bombings that occurred throughout Cambodia at that time. The Museum is really an amazing sight to see. All the bombs and landmines were found by CSHD (Cambodian Self Help De-mining).

We were able to visit the back of the museum that houses the orphanage and the school. There is about 40 kids that live and study here. Im not sure if anyone other than CNN has had access to this part of the museum. This was a great privilege and right off the bat I want to thank Bill and Jill Morse as well as Aki Ra for allowing it. We were able to see where the kids sleep, eat, cook and study. We even met one of the teachers who was a volunteer here.

After the tour of the facility all the kids started to come over and were obviously curious as to who we were. This was our opportunity to hand out more presents. We only got to hand out a few as not all the kids were there at that time. But it still was awesome to see their faces lit up. One of the children was Aki Ra’s and that made it that much more special. Its one thing to be able to have an impact on children we have never met and have no relationship, but this was the first time I was able to say I knew something about one of the children we were handing out “presents” to. Pretty amazing!!!

As we left the museum and orphanage, we walked towards a shop to get some coconut water. What happened next was not set up nor did I have any knowledge that he was even here. Aki Ra was sitting in the shop. From about 30 feet away I saw him and he looked up at me with this big, warm smile and said “Steve!! Hi! How are you?” I was floored. I don’t think we as adults say this enough… This man is my hero and I could not believe he remembered my name. That says a lot about him as a man, and I think it speaks volumes to where we are as an organization. 

We walked towards each other and shook hands and patted one another on the back. He really made me feel like “we” are accomplishing our mission. His pat on the back felt like a fathers to his son, saying “good job” or “keep up the good work”. I cant say enough about him.

 

 

 

He was on his way to a wedding and we loaded up the “tuk tuk” and headed to the ODA orphanage on the way back to town. There were about 30 kids there and we handed out “presents” to them as well as took a tour of the facility. Hopefully we will be able to help them in some more in the future as well.

 

 

 

 

We left there and headed to a school down the road. At this school we were able to hand out the rest of the bags. I think we today we handed out more than 200 again. The pictures say it all. Each and every child was so excited and thankful for their “present”. The “tuk tuk” driver spoke to the classes for us ahead of time and told them that we were from the USA and we brought them gifts. Just look at the pictures…… I really cant put into words what it has meant to be able to do this. Thank you all for your donations. Your “presence” is felt. The smiles are for you and what time and effort you all put into gathering the gifts and building the bags. Thank you for allowing this to happen….. 

We finished our day with a late lunch in town and we booked our bus for tomorrow. We are heading to Kampot to see our friends at the Pepper Project. We are only spending a short time down there as we have to be back to head to the mine field on monday morning.

Before we leave though, Amanda and I are going to a “pub-quiz” fundraiser tonight to support the Rural School Village Project.

Im not sure how the internet will be along the Vietnam border however I will post again as soon as I again.

Another great day

 Posted by at 6:39 AM
Jan 162013
 

January 16,2013

 

The day started early as usual. I was up and eating my breakfast at 7am. The city was just waking up too. Amanda came down and met me around 7:45 and we headed out with Ng, our “tuk tuk” driver from the day before.

Ng had told me that he knows a man that we could interview and so thats where we headed first. before getting to the mans house, we stopped and picked up 20kg of rice and some sauce. That amount of rice will probably feed him and his family for a month. As we continued on, we drove out of the city through small little broken down villages. Everyone is up and cooking and preparing the food for the day. Its truly a “well oiled machine” here. Not much different then I had remembered.

The house we were going to was set off the street and behind a motorcycle shop. As we walked up you could see the man sitting in the doorway of his hut. It sat about 10 feet up off the ground on these large stilts. There were a few small children running around. Ng spoke to the man for a minute about why we were there as we set up our equipment. There was a look of surprise on everyones face. It seemed they couldn’t believe that we were there to interview him. However, they also seemed very happy of the idea as to why we are in Cambodia.

 

I took my shoes off and climbed up the ladder. I sat in the doorway with Rea. He had a huge smile on his face. He warmly greeted me. Rea is 48 years old and a father of 5. He has 4 girls and 1 son. The older son was at work and the oldest girl at school. He lives their with all of them and is wife.

He told me his story. He was in the Cambodian army and in 1988 or 89 he wasn’t sure, he had been given the order to clear a road of landmines so the generals could pass safely. At this point, Rea had been in the army for 2 years. He had never cleared mines before. As he was a good soldier, he did what he was told. During the clearing of the road Rea came into contact with a claymore that was hanging from a tree at about chest level. It was connected to the tree with a “trip wire”, so when he moved it, it detonated. You can see on his face and chest, the burns from the explosion. It took his left eye from him. It also took both his arms below the elbow. He said with a smile that one thing he will never forget is that the generals that gave the order, never visited him and he has never met them before or after the detonation.

We also handed out some presents to his children and the neighbors children. They were all so sweet. Im not sure who was more grateful, us as we had the opportunity to hand them out or the children for receiving them. Our Presence is definitely felt here.

 

 

 

 

From there we moved on to Kompong Phluk. Its part of Tonle Sap lake. We rented a boat and a driver to take us out to the orphanage that is on an island. Houses here are built 50 meters above ground because how the water rises and fall during the rainy season. Again there are kids everywhere. Mostly orphans. We hit land out front of the orphanage and loaded up with our equipment and presents. Most of the children were in school so we visited multiple classrooms and handed our all the presents we had with us, around 200. We had a blast with the kids. They were all so excited and lit up with huge smiles as we handed them out. We helped some of the children open their bags and showed them what was in them. They got a kick out of us showing them how to blow bubbles! Also showed them that the handmade beanies that were donated also doubled as little purses, and the girls really liked that. All of the gifts were enjoyed by each and every child there. We took plenty of video and pictures to show you all back home the impact you have had here with them.

 

 

 

 

From there we headed around the lake in this little canal on an even smaller boat. No motor on this one. We had a lady sit on the bow and was rowing us around as her little girl, not more than 2, sat behind her. We had a great time with the little girl.

 

 

 

 

After our visit to the lake we headed to the war museum. I had visited here the last time and that is where I had met Tom. My hopes were answered as he was there again and gave us our tour. He remembered me from the last time. We spoke about how we are working with Aki Ra as well now and he seemed to be very excited about that. He knows him and everyone in this country loves him for what he is doing here. I feel very fortunate to be involved with someone like Aki Ra.

Tom told Amanda and I his story as well. How he lost his arm and how he came to be in the army and fought for the Khmer. His story is truly inspiring and its even more amazing the attitude he carries about his circumstance. He speaks very good english and has such a soft, happy tone to his voice. I was so glad to have seen him again. He made a promise to me. Tom told me that every night he prays that someday he will have a “robotic” arm, and when that happens, he promises me that he will give me a big hug!

We had a wonderful day 2. For dinner, we are meeting Bill and Jill Morse of the landmine relief fund. They help run Aki Ra’s NGO, and the orphanage that sits behind the landmine museum. We had a great time with them and I am glad to see Bill again. Amanda and I will be visiting the museum and orphanage tomorrow morning. On monday we will be heading out to the field with Bill and Aki Ra for an overnight visit to one of the mine fields they are working at right now.

I will say it again, and again Im sure…….. I am so excited to see what day three brings. Im so glad to be here and be able to share this with all of you. This trip again is on the shoulders of all of you at home. You all are the reason and the cause that allows this to happen. I love you and thank you for all your support.

 

Our first day……

 Posted by at 5:01 AM
Jan 152013
 

January 15, 2013

 

I am going to have to start the blog off talking about our flight. Normally uneventful, however not this time. It was about 4 hours into the flight from LAX to China. Keep in mind, we still have 10 hours left on this leg of the journey. We had all eaten by now and for me, I’ve already watched a movie. Im getting ready to watch a second and hopefully fall asleep and over the PA is an announcement……… “We have a medical emergency with one of our passengers. If there is a doctor or anyone medically trained on the plane, please come towards the front.” Not what I expected to hear. I casually looked around and got up and went to the front of the plane. A man had passed out. He was awake now but could not stand up and he just looked bad. We got him situated in the galley area as I asked him a bunch of questions as the crew went to fine the medical kit. As they arrived I took the mans blood pressure and checked his pulse. I really couldn’t do more then that. His pressure was low but heart rate was normal. We elevated his feet and allowed him to lay there for a while. His color finally started to come back and so did his blood pressure. After about twenty five minutes, the crew and I were able to assist him to a row that was completely empty so he could lay down for the remainder of the flight. I checked on Shaun one more time about an hour later and he was doing good. I then got back to my seat and proceeded to pass out.

We got into Cambodia after a short layover in China around 11pm. Got through pass port control and customs. Loaded not only our 4 personal bags, but the 4 bags loaded with the presents and headed into town to Molly’s. Molly’s is great. The staff here is always so helpful and Ehmer was sitting at the bar as he was the last time I was here. He was totally surprised to see me. Great guy. He basically runs the place. We chatted for a few minutes and got our rooms figured out. Amanda and I got cleaned up and changed and headed out for the day. We really didn’t have anything planned as I wasn’t to sure how we would feel after the trip over. However, we were feeling great and decided to visit Angkor Wat. I got a “tuk tuk” and we were off.

I really felt like this was a good opportunity for both of us to get emerged into the culture and the history of this amazing country. I have already visited Angkor Wat the last time I was here, but I recalled what an amazing experience it was for me and wanted to share it with Amanda. I shared with her on the way some of the history of this part of the country and how and why things are the way they are now. As we walked through the temples and talked I continued to share what I could. We had a great time also just chatting as cousins, and really getting some quality time together. We did a little shopping and got mammoth size coconut waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we came to the last temple we were going to visit for the day, we came across something that could not have seemed more appropriate regarding why we are here. We both didn’t even realize it at first. There was 4 men sitting on the ground playing music. Each had their own instrument. It was amazing. We were on a tree lined path listening to traditional Cambodian music. It all seemed so perfect. Then I started to really look at the men. I noticed two had prosthetic limbs sitting next to them. I then, finally noticed the sign that stood next to them that I had payed no attention to when we walked by it. Each man in the band was a victim of a landmine detonation. They had either lost a lower limb, or both. I could not have made this up. It really drove home why we are here, and why we all have taken on this cause.

 

 

 

 

 

We finished off the day in the park that was on our way to Molly’s. Ng, our “tuk tuk” driver, decided we needed to see the fruit bats that live in the tree’s there. THEY ARE HUGE!!! It was a pretty cool way to end an amazing day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He dropped us at Molly’s and I discussed with him the possibility of him driving us tomorrow. I talked to him about our cause and what we would like to accomplish while we are here. He told me he knows some people that would be up for an interview and that he would be able to take us to the rehab center that is in town (if you recall last time I was here, I was asked to leave). We also plan to head out to the orphanage that is on Tonle Sap lake and hand out some presents to the kids as well as the men and woman that live there.

Tomorrow will be amazing. Im really looking forward to the surprises it will bring. I cant get over the feeling of being here again. It truly does feels like home. As excited as I am for what lies ahead, I haven’t felt this calm in a long time.

On our way….Again

 Posted by at 9:20 PM
Jan 142013
 

January 13, 2013

 

As we prepare to leave on our second journey, I again am overwhelmed with the possibilities of this trip. This will be an entirely different experience than the last. This trip may end up being more organic then before. We have a similar itinerary and still dramatically different. The more and more I think about where this foundation has gone in such a short amount of time, Im continuously drawn back to how this wouldn’t be possible without all of your support.

We will be on our way shortly and I would like to thank my wonderful Aunt Becky and Uncle Danny. First for allowing me to bring their daughter along to document the trip. I cant wait to see what we put together. Secondly, for taking us to the airport.

Again, as we are leaving I wanted to remind you all that you are the “how” we are here. We will be vigilant in our journey to bring as much awareness to this cause as possible as well as letting the people of this beautiful country know that we are here. All of your donations are with us. We will deliver the ”presents”, and while doing so, your “presence” will be acknowledged.