The sky was a bright orange as we drove into Siem Reap, the intense buzz of scooters in the hot dry air so over powering. My left arm burned from the 6 hours drive from Kompong Cham north west to Siem Reap. Each of us very much desperately in need of a good stretch and a glass of cold water. Siem Reap is much greener than the other cities we have been in and has a mystical magic about it that you only find in parts of Asia. I was excited to get out and shoot.
I had spent the morning at the Kompong Cham Handicap international rehabilitation center with the rest of our team; Rupert and Friederike from Handicap International Germany, Mr Sopha from Handicap International Cambodia, Herr Lenz and the lovely Frau Oelrich, both Journalists both German and both living in Bangkok. Last but not least Mario, my self and our quiet driver Mr Sa Van. The rehab center was such an inspiring place and the work that is done there is so very important. They treat around 200 patients a year for clubfoot, polio, congenital disability, amputation etc. They also have a prosthetic work shop there and fit and refit patients day in day out with prosthetic body parts. It was an important part of the story and a morning I enjoyed a great deal. Its amazing what HI have archived world wide and after spending time at the rehab center, I really got a scope of how important the work they do is.
It’s been a relatively intense trip so far. Not a lot of time to settle in one place, each day bringing an enormous amount of information and perspective to the reasons we are all here. Meeting officials, beneficiaries, victims. Visiting landmine clearance sites and getting to know each other and observe each or our individual talents. As I said in one of my last posts .......
"There is a responsibility as a team to define the way we report the issues at hand, for that's the way the outside world will receive the message - through us.
One must understand that this trip is about a group of people coming together to give victims of unnecessary injustice a voice, a voice to communicate to the world their stories of pain, tragedy and survival, stories that need to be told!
The importance can not be stressed enough about how necessary it is for people to be aware of issues like these, as we all ultimately share the responsibility of helping others less fortunate than ourselves. Furthermore it is not only the people in need that we should be aware of, but also the outstanding members of Handicap International who work day in and day out in order to better the lives of others! I only hope that the work I do on this trip lives up to the pathways that have all ready been laid so profoundly"
Last night I asked to stay back in the hotel to catch up on my image editing and to get my head around how I want to write about the complex task of why we are here. Just as I sat down with my notepad the star of the show, Mario turned up in the restaurant and we had a good few hours talking about Cambodia, his advisability and our approach to writing and assessing the experience. It was a beautiful evening with very special conversation that can only be provoked in this kind of a setting under these kinds of circumstances. I also feel closer to Mario and I'm even more compelled to get the job done the best I can.
I have woken with a bad stomach, 4am fever, its quiet and calm out side. In the distance I can hear Buddhist monks chanting their morning prayers. A cute little gecko is croaking on my wall. I like him there as I feel that the chance of a Tarantula in my bungalow is a little less likely.
I will not go on in this post much more. There is so much to come over the next week.
Above is an image of a striking woman whose name I don’t know. Her 3-year-old granddaughter had her leg amputated; she was at the Handicap International rehab center helping her grand daughter learn to walk again. I approached her very calmly and asked her for a portrait. I was thrilled when she let me in ! I love the moment that a person lets me inside and lets me see there soul and allows me document it, always very intense.
Below is an image of her Grand daughter Say Noi : More to come on her later. Quite a trick she was !