Reflections in Phnom Penh: A Simple Truth


Having now completed my volunteer assignment, my insights tend to surround life in Phnom Penh. It is 40,000 motorcyclists and tuk tuks weaving in and out of the morning traffic, bypassing the fat cats in their shiny new SUVs and sedans. It is the smell of chicken on a neighborhood grill at 7 am, and a couple of doors down a lady on her haunches doing the morning’s laundry in a big steel bowl. It is steamed rice with almost every meal and a brown out almost every afternoon. It is a welcome breeze or a little cloud cover on a sweltering afternoon. It is a steady stream of laughter, music, barking dogs, and motorcycle engines until 2 in the morning – every morning, everywhere.

In the final analysis, I think I learned a simple truth: that there is dignity in forgiving the past, living a day at a time, eking out an honest existence, and enjoying each other’s company along the way. I think this is the genius of the Cambodian people and will serve them well for many years to come.

Doug H., Cambodia International Health Program

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