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My Scholarship entry - Giving back on the road

WORLDWIDE | Saturday, 24 March 2012 | Views [1441] | Comments [2] | Scholarship Entry

Grandma and me

Grandma and me

I named her Grandma, a graceful lady who greeted me outside her village in Kampong Speu. Her toothy smile was wide and told of the joy she felt for this special day for today she would become a proud owner of her very own house. A house that I was to build as a volunteer for the Tabitha Foundation.

For most of her life, Grandma had lived in a hut made from aged brown banana leaves. When the rains came, her house would be washed away and she would have to build a new one with whatever little resources she could find. Her hut housed her remaining family - the others murdered by the Khmer Rouges’ deadly reign. It also housed a few farm animals she managed to keep. Everyone slept on the mud floor, Grandma cooked their meals inside on a small kerosene stove. Without ventilation, huts like this kill hundreds annually.

Outside her hut, Grandma kept a lovely garden with a small altar in a tree. This was a proud place that was kept neat with twice daily sweepings and fresh floral offerings and incense. A small statue of Buddha oversaw her prayers. She was a widow, her face was lined with memories of Pol Pots time yet she remained graced with dignity, hope and a beautiful smile.

Despite the language and age barrier, Grandma and I managed to communicate well. She led me to her altar where we lit incense and she taught me to Sompeh. As we knelt before the offerings, I silently prayed that the house I built for her would make her proud.

The humidity and heat were high and matched my attitude as I hammered away; laughing and sweating, taking a water break every 20 minutes to avoid dehydration. Grandma watched me all day smiling her encouragement at me.

I was proud of the sturdy house I built, and handing it over to her was the most rewarding and humbling experience of my life. Giving back on the road, it’s good karma!

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012




That's a truly lovely experience! You must have felt so warm and fuzzy doing such a good thing. Hope others follow your lead!

  traveleater May 1, 2012 11:51 AM


LOL - I did feel warm and fuzzy afterwards. 40 degree heat with 98% humidity. ;)

  lisaf May 1, 2012 12:43 PM

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