23 March 2009

A Trip To Prey Veng Province

[daniel using his moto skills to drive us through rice fields]

A few weeks ago we headed out to Prey Veng province to visit some of MCC's more rural work sites. The trip was fascinating on several levels. It was great to see what development work MCC is doing outside of Phnom Penh, but it was also shocking to see some of the rural poverty that exists in the countryside.

[children collecting dung to use as fuel]

There are estimates that half of Cambodia's rural poor lives on less than 45 cents a day. And more than the poverty, what I found haunting was the apparent lack of opportunity for the rural farmers, and especially for their children. And at the same time, it is in this context that the work of MCC and its local partners becomes so inspiring and hope-filled. We visited a meeting of a small community bank, villagers coming together to save and to give each other small loans for small scale business ventures.

We attended a meeting of local farmers listening to a trained veterinarian speaking about caring for their animals and protecting against bird flu.

We visited a high school that is teaching students agricultural techniques to address food insecurity issues.

We met a family living in poverty, who with the help of MCC, is learning to raise & sell chickens.

And we saw some rice field irrigation projects.

In the midst of our journeys here, we are often reminded that we are haves, while so many around us are have nots. And that we are haves in ways that run so much deeper than the size of our bank accounts-in having lived lives free from violence & war & the trauma of genocide & sexual abuse & discrimination; in having families that have always loved and supported us; in the education we received; & in the opportunities we have had to travel & learn & experience life from so many different places.

and it does not make any sense.

i keep remembering (& praying) the words of the poem "listen" by w.s. merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings...
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


Mark Janice Bergen said...

The pictures and captions give us a little scoop into Cambodian life; heavy things to think about all around the world. Food for thought.

Corners of My Life said...

You are such a talented writer, able to paint a picture with your words that makes us all pause and reflect. I love your posts!
Miss you,

Chris and Christina said...

beautiful pictures, and beautiful poem, and amen to what your mom said about your writing!

Shelley said...

Yes, it isn't fair. I can't imagine the weight of everything you experience there. China is a land of 'haves' relative to Cambodia, and even here it can be difficult to accept the riches with which God has blessed me. It is hard to realize the best way to enact a just distribution of power, but thank God that he promises to help us in our work! I can tell that the work you are doing is a cup of cool water that brings joy and relief to these people. You will be in my prayers.

adriana said...

friends. so lovely to see your photos and hear about what mcc is doing there. it reminds me so much of things i have seen here. how exciting to know that there too good work is being done even in the midst of so much pain and darkness. i really liked the poem too.

daphne & ryan said...

fun to see your photos of prey veng! we just accepted an mcc position there...so we're looking forward to calling it home...and meeting all you mccers!