not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


After two months in Costa Rica, I plan on returning home for the month of March, and then back on a plane for a few weeks in April. For some time now I have been trying to figure out where exactly it is that I hope to go. Surf vacations are the usual, so I was hoping to mix it up a bit in April and go on a non-surfing trip. My friend Emily Corkill has been on an Asia-kick for the past few years (she also lives in Chinatown in NYC). First to Japan, then Thailand, then Vietnam and this year to Laos. She always travels solo, and she goes for around about 3 weeks. This is Em in Luang Prabang in Laos:

Emily said of Cambodia that it was the one place that you could really feel and see the heartbreak that these people experienced over the past few decades. There are a ton of orphans, who have lost parents or who have just been given up because their parents simply cannot afford to feed one more mouth. The Vietnam War and their own civil war left millions of Cambodians as refugees, and 75% of their animals were lost in the bombings of the war - they soon were plagued with a famine. With half the population living in dire conditions, in 1975 The Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot came to power and Cambodia was now called the "Democratic Kampuchea". The Khmer Rouge was influenced and backed by China, and they proceeded to destroy anything considered "western". Western medicine, temples and libraries were destroyed; doctors, lawyers, teachers - anyone with a trained skill, were killed. Anyone who wore eyeglasses was automatically executed. A population of 8 million people lost a million citizens to executions, overwork, starvation, and disease, the remaining 7 million living in extreme poverty and not far from death themselves. The 1970's and 1980's in Cambodia were plagued with death: mass killings and an "extermination" of what the Khmer Rouge considered bad. This era in Cambodia is referred to as the "Killing Fields". Vietnam eventually stepped in to put an end to the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror, and with help from the United Nations they reached a ceasefire in the early 90's. All of Cambodia had been shattered: emotionally, economically, culturally, socially -- and it hasn't been until the past few years that they have finally been able to begin rebuilding.

Cambodia's population is 95% Buddhist, a revival that began after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. FIFTY PERCENT of the population is younger than 25, and the median age of Cambodian citizens is 20 years old. It's the third most 'mined' country in the world - 60,000 people have died or been severely maimed since 1970, most of these people being children who were working or playing in fields. 80% of the illnesses children suffer from are water-related -- think of how much you take water for granted, walking around with water bottles. We are so fortunate. Which is why I feel the need to give back. I grew up with wonderful, supportive parents. I have been showered with love since birth - I got a great education, always had nutritious meals on the table, and my parents have given me an endless amount of opportunities. I was searching the world wide web today and found a site that I found very helpful I emailed them with some questions about volunteer work and the orphanages in Cambodia. Another great site, if you aren't able to travel to Cambodia but would still like to offer some money is And if you can't give money, atleast be informed. There are some great sites on the web that go into depth about Cambodia's history, culture and children.

"If you can't feed a hundred people,
then just feed one."

-- Mother Teresa

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