Archive for April, 2009

so much to say ( “Sour Sdei Chhnam Thmei!!!,” protest bands, mekong swim, epic pad thai, khmer rough tribunal, etc.)

April 10, 2009

that i’m going to list it out

1) Khmer Rouge Trial is now in full swing– this is HUGE news in Cambodia, a place where justice is far from achieved, or even hoped for.  One of my flatmates is a lawyer who is interning at the court– we are hoping to get tickets to view it.  Some of the most infamous leaders from the Khmer Rouge are on trial now, and it is VERY controversial….. so much to say…. check out these websites and google news the trial. It has been over 3o years now since the end of one of the worst modern genocides in history.  Cambodia is, in manys, still in survival mode as a result of this devestating period.  It’s an incredibly interesting, strange dynamic.

ECCC (Extrodinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia)


NY Times


2) I was just in Phnom Penh’s 2nd ever production of The Vagina Monologues.  It was a blast… so many incredible women participated, and hopefully in years to come, more Cambodian women will be a part of it too.  This year, the nationally famous MESSENGER BAND  – an all-woman garment workers protest band opened for our show– it was an INCREDIBLE privilege to have them endorse us.  They continue to advocate for marginalized, hard working Cambodian women every day, traveling and performing around the country, in rural provinces and even once at a UN conference in Hong Kong.  PLEASE take a look at this website to learn more.

***If you want a CD of their songs, please let me know and I will personally buy it for you and bring it back with me from the states. Let me know soon!! I leave mid-May….


I want to be Sharon when I grow up  :)  She was our most dynamic, seasoned cast-mate

I want to be Sharon when I grow up 🙂 She was our most dynamic, seasoned cast-mate

3) I swam across the Mekong river with 150 of my closest friends.  I haven’t yet contradicted any parasites.  It was absolutely a blast.

motely cru. almost pirate worthy.

pre-parasites  :)

pre-parasites 🙂

860 meters and no tom sawyer in sight!

860 meters and no tom sawyer in sight!

4) I am now have acquired an acute, nuanced pallate for pad thai after eating it every day for 13 days straight in the place where it all began when I was in Thailand with one of my best friends, a certain Mr. Tom.  It was beautiful, rejeuvenating and a much needed refresher before this last stretch in Cambodia.

5) Sour Sdei Chhnam Thmei! HAPPY KHMER NEW YEAR!!! If you’ve gotten slack on those resolutions from waaay back in January, shake off the guilt and just tell yourself it was a test run before the REAL new year 🙂

6)  I’m about to leave for a 400 km epic bike ride across the country!!!!

7) I leave Cambodia May 13, am in Japan til May 24, and appear in Kansas City, Misouri USA May 25, and will eventually show up in Washington DC around June 20 for my fellowship which begins July 1st

Whew!!   :*)


into the wilds– 400 km bike ride across Cambodia

April 10, 2009

Starting tomorrow morning nice and early, we are headed to North Western Cambodia. Our final destination is a magical place called Rattinakiri, a true jungle experience with possibility for lions, tigers and bears oh my! (well, no bears, no lions, but other large beastly things like elephants and monkies and interesting wild versions of buffalo and tigers and such).

It’s going to be long— possibly up to 400km (that’s gonna be hard on a good no-butt like mine), but I am absolutely thrilled to get out out out to experience some true Cambodia, and a ride through some of the most ethnically and geographically and ecologically diverse areas of Cambodia. It is also the Khmer New Year, so what a culturally rich time to be running about in the provinces. I am looking forward to it much.

I’m headed out there with my co-worker Tim and some other friends, maybe 5 of us total, to bear the dust, the mosquitoes, sunshine and the beauty together. There are even some rare Mekong River dolphins (only 70 left!!) we might spy.

Here is a link to a google map that charts our trail– so you can follow along.

Next Step: Free the Slaves

April 1, 2009

The rainy season is just teetering on its edge again- spitting minute showers and even a few short lived storms wanting desperately to pour— but the skies are just not quite ready to release the true monsoon rains.   This is how I’ve felt during this past month or two which have compounded so swiftly. What a full month March has been for me– a month that has ushered in a myriad of personal and professional challenges, confusion, adventures and joys. Even as I write this large, full drops are thumping on the tin roofs all around me, motos are pulling over for cover and even a few street vendors will momentarily put aside their wares.   But I’ve finally been able to procure a few answers, draw some borders around my future and and begin filling the empty spaces with color and possibility.  It is a good feeling…

Just as my job with Hagar began coming to a close, I was awarded the Zimmerman Fellowship from Free The Slaves, an international NGO based in Washington, DC that is one of the leading experts on modern slavery and human trafficking.  Each year, they vet their applications and chose only 2 fellows for this incredible opportunity to learn from and contribute to the strategic anti-slavery work of one of the most highly respected organizations in the field.  I am overwhelmed by the possibilities that exist through this fellowship– not only the training and the professional experience, but the personal growth and vision I’ll be able to cultivate through this keen, sensitive group of individuals devoted to this cause.  I just cannot express the gratitude I feel for this opportunity– and the sheer relief– of knowing I have this incredible, supportive space from which to spring from.   Here is a link that give the break down of what the fellowship offers–

For a brief low down- I will be the research fellow working directly with Kevin Bales, who is considered the top expert on modern slavery (and one of the only researchers with substance behind his numbers–  Everyone quotes this work!!), I’ll have the chance to travel to some far off reaches with the world with Free The Slaves to visit some of their local NGO partners, AND I’ll be a student at Georgetown University, in a program for executive non-profit leadership.  Oh, and I cannot forget— I’ll be a paid employee with benefits (!! this has YET to happen for me, it’s pretty exciting, ha).  It’s a pretty incredible opportunity for which I am so very grateful.

I must say that the experience with Hagar here in Cambodia has really seasoned me in every way– and it has made me more qualified and ready for an experience like this one before me.

thank you THANK YOU for your encouragment throughout this time.  i can’t begin to tell you the oddity of ups and downs it’s been here in the  cambodia ngo world i’m in now. this experience has been incredibly valuable, incredibly challenging and i have learned a great deal.  i wouldn’t trade it in, but i also hope that I wouldn’t  have to do it just like this again in the future. i’m grateful for hagar and the lessons it’s taught me. I believe in their model, i think it has amazing potential, but my job facilitating the social program start up in the new international offices has its own lifespan. Hagar’s restructuring processes actually makes my transition out a more seamless and healthy one. so i guess it all works out together in the end, somehow.

My fellowship begins in July, so I will be on my way out of Cambodia sometime in May.  After stopping by Japan to see a dear friend, I will finally be back in Missouri in June.  So, where ever you may be, I hope I will get a chance to reconnect with you to at the edge of this new beginning for me.  Please do keep in touch!! I still have work to finish here, of course, and many more adventures ahead in Cambodia, which I will keep you updated on, but in the meantime, I relish the joy of returning home in the near future!