The clouds turned black, blocking out the sun and it began. The torrential rain fell and fell some more, drowning the country and all who lived in it. The rainy season was here. People looked up and continued to live life thankful for the rain, undeterred by the flooded streets, the humidity and the dampness. They waited for it. It would last a few months, giving life to the dry arid land that Cambodia had become just a short while a go.
The sun struck the ground, scorched it, and killed all that lay in view. Hot air circulated around the barren ground, taking with it the water that had filled a lake just a few months ago. People looked up and continued to live a life hampered by the arid and dry heat and waited for the rain. The dry season.
That is how it is here in Cambodia, flipping from one season to the next, and today we saw and lived in the dry season, crawling along a shallow river of water to a shallow lake where about 200 families lived on floating bamboo and wood houses, floating with the ups and downs of the lake. In the rainy season the lake is huge, with a water level that is 30 feet above the current riverbed. Today, the floating village lay close to land both to the side of them and underneath them. There are about 300 children there in a school that was built for them by One Child Matters, and we were there to see them. We set up clinic on the banks of the shallow lake and watched as the children came to us in small skiffs. We too had traveled several miles in small skiffs to get there. Right here in the middle of a shallow lake in the boonies of Cambodia, working under tarps and with a generator and a router, we saw a couple of hundred children using our electronic medical record system. Technology in a place barren of anything that would resemble comfort and modern. The school has outhouses that empty right into the lake where the children swim. There is a cell phone tower just a few hundred yards from the floating homes and the school placed on a small patch of land in the lake, but they don’t have electricity or running water. The living conditions were evident in the health of the children. Many chronically malnourished children with chronic infections. There is much to do and much to address. But wouldn’t you agree that even if we are successful in treating the malnutrition, the chronic infections and more, the swimming in the polluted water, the bathroom residues going directly into the lake and the overall life lived without running clean water, electricity and more would trump anything that we could ever accomplish? Not so fast. We are gaining ground since we were here last. Teaching the children about hygiene, bathroom protocol, and more has made a difference. Yes, we saw some sick children, but they are better than what we saw several years ago. So, give us time, and let’s continue to see how it all plays out. It is playing out, granted slowly. No giving up just yet…
In all things give thanks,