Wednesday, 23 December 2009

our family on the other side of the world

I would like to introduce you to some of my very favourite people in my world, they are my Cambodian family. They live on the Tonale Sap lake and make there living fishing. They live on a floating house that moves around the lake depending on the time of year, the lake is vast more like an inland sea. The Tonale Sap is said to be the heart of South East Asia with it's ebb and flow defined by the Mekong river fed by the melt down every year of the Himalayas. I met Thy on the right hand side when I was staying in a tiny little guest house, whilst working out there the first time. Throughout my stays in Cambodia we have become good friends with him and his family. They are 10 as Thy's mum died last year at 42 from pneumonia. The head of the house now falls to Thy's oldest sister sitting next to him in Blue. There little house is as wide as they are sitting across and about 25 feet long. They all live on this boat. I still find it difficult to believe, no space is your own. No room for privacy in Cambodian families. They sleep on the floor with pillows they all role out. In the heat of the 40 degree summer you must go nearly mad. Everything is so clean and beautifully organized everything has a place. They cook at the back of the house in a 4ft square space in a big wok. Everybody takes turns to eat their food, usually of fish and herbs. These can be found growing in anything they can find on the side of the house. The lemon grass is the most heavenly I have ever tasted. Life in Cambodia is hard, Thy's family live on 2 - 3 dollars a day, some of the children go to school but this costs money, health care is far from adequate. People and children die from diseases that are completely treatable with basic health care provision. A wonderful man who I met out there, has set up an incredible project which means health care is reaching the thousands of people who live on the lake via catamarans. Thy has taken me in I have lived with his family shared in weddings, funerals, shared culture, food, language and they have showed me how to live without a toilet. Thy and his family have generously shared and I have found out about the heart of Cambodia. My life is so much richer for knowing Thy and my Cambodian family. I still speak bad Khmer and can't throw a cast net to save my life.

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