The Glass Darkly

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Return to Cambodia

How many things have changed in Cambodia! In just four and a half years, lots of new buildings, more paved streets, better sewage trenches, and lots more traffic lights and road signs. The presence of a few food franchises (KFC, Swensen's, The Pizza Company) packed with Cambodians is a marker of a growing middle class. More people wear helmets on their motorbikes and prices for moto taxis have gone up. But even with the increased costs of living, some of the poorer class are starting to make improvements to their homes and living conditions. This is good news!

Some things still have not changed. A large percentage of people still live in poverty, rickety bamboo "homes" straddling rivers that ar
e huge sewage routes. Children, though perhaps less than before, still beg or sell trinkets for money around the parks and markets and on the beaches instead of attend school. And homeless people are exploited and kicked far out of the city by the government, an "out of sight, out of mind" effort to "clean up the city." Tons of moped-type motorbikes weave in and out of the increasing number of cars and SUV's on the crowded streets making traffic more treacherous than ever. Heat and dust in the dry/hot season is balanced only by the abundance of wonderful sweet, yellow, ripe mangoes. Added to that is Khmer New Year, just passed, when Cambodians still love to return to their "homelands" in the provinces where the lack of running water and electric seems to never hinder the dancing and parties and cherished family time.

Overall a wonderful time of reunion and chance to see the ways that investing into people's lives brings meaning to life and multiplies the Love and Life that Christ and our faith gives us.