Laurel, my wonderful wife, has been gone for almost 2 weeks now. She is in Cambodia, in a village called Kep. In it’s heyday in the 20s, 30s and 40s as a destination for rich french and colonialist residents, Kep was home to villas and beautiful resort infrastructure. All that remains now are the burnt out shells of these former mansions and broken down fountains at major intersections. The beach is now lined with cheap seafood vendors and other, more sandy, beaches attract the rich and social. Kep, by all accounts, is no longer very wealthy, nor popular. I am sure most people who had their fond memories there, and at places like Boker Hill Station are mostly long gone.
Her diet consists mostly of (and I kid you now) various forms of Grass Soup, sometimes with Fish, sometimes not. She had a pretty serious bout of stomach illness when she first arrived, but is feeling a lot better now.
Her work consists mostly (and I may miss some of it here) of going to very remote villages (an hour or more on a scooter/moto from her already remote camp/cottage) where she is educating villagers on Tuberculosis as well as a bit of dental hygiene training.
Some of her experiences are as desperate and sad as you can imagine. A mother bringing her a child who has been sick for days or more, looking for help, but they don’t even have the money to get to an aid clinic, let alone pay for the healthcare once they get there. So the girl must just suffer, Laurel is only able to suggest Acetaminophen, which neither she nor the village has at the time, and corruption and disorganization prevent any real medication from reaching these villages and clinics (the medication is most likely sold before anyone knows about it).
Kids occasionally freak out as well, they have never seen a white person and Laurel happens to have very blond hair that stands out even more. She describes it as: The child slowly stops what he/she is doing, slowly turns, eyes getting wider, jaw dropping, eyes wider, jaw dropping more, sounds start to come from them, yes – that is a scream, kid is screaming, kid runs to mom and tells her that he/she saw a ghost.
I am proud of what she is doing, but I can’t wait until she gets back.