There but for the grace of God

dsc_3144.jpg We’d only been at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump on the outskirts of Phnom Penh a few seconds and already the first kids were running towards our truck and its load of fresh bread, oranges, apples and bananas.

Not much to be excited about from most people’s perspective but imagine spending day after day sifting through bags of rubbish with the sun on your head and nothing but the scent of rot and fires all around. And then imagine that you were born into this situation and you had never been outside the dump and its immediate community.

If you were a very lucky child you might be taken under the wing of a local charity and given a bit of schooling. But most likely the word “education” would mean learning how to find tin cans, plastics and wire that could be sold to support the family. Not much of a childhood and a situation where a bit of fruit just might seem like a slice of heaven.

A young boy wandering through the dumpIt was a shock for us. The endless piles of garbage. The smell. The flies. Kids wandering around in bare feet – although more than we expected did have shoes. While we tried to take it all in, one of the organisers declared it one of the best days he’d ever seen at the dump. A light breeze was keeping down the smell and flies, he reasoned. There hadn’t been much rain so only a few patches of ground were deeply muddy. There was one long trough of sludge alongside the road containing everything including medical and chemical waste. We were told kids sometimes fell in up to their shoulders in the murky rubbish filled water. But other than that it was indeed a “good day” at the Stung Meanchey dump.

We didn’t have long to reflect on this new definition of a “good day”. Hands were outstretched all around us, hats held high into the air to receive the precious cargo. “Girls first,” we said as volunteers on the ground tried to separate the crowd so the most vulnerable members of Khmer society would be the first to get food. Young girls first, then the boys, next mothers with children and grown men last. Soon we formed a relay team. “More bananas,” someone would shout and up the bananas would come from the other end of the truck. “I need an apple down here,” came another cry and off the apple went towards the happy recipient. Each person got at least one baguette, an apple, two or three bananas and several oranges. Slowly, as the food went round, the desperate faces that greeted us started to smile.

dsc_3151.jpgIn the middle of a dire situation, we were surprised to find laughter. We’d tried to ensure that each person got just one portion of food but some people would come back two or three times. We always gave them a joking “I caught you” look and they’d admit their cheeky attempt with a smile or a wink. When we finished giving out food, one young girl walked up to us with a wink and pointed at her rubber boots. Every spare inch around her legs was filled with oranges! We could only chuckle at her ingenuity. No one had noticed her secret stash.

With the food distributed, we walked further into the dump. A truck unloading fresh garbage was surrounded by at least twenty people, all waiting to be the first to break into the bags. To the other side a lady poked at bags full of food waste from a restaurant or market. What would she find in there, we wondered? Maybe something to eat, we were told. A sobering thought for the next time you leave something on your plate.

Our time at the dump was short; less than an hour but more than enough to leave a strong impression. Somehow, fate had smiled on us. Not so for these families.

dsc_3140.jpgLife was a little kinder to the kids at the orphanage we visited next. Sure, they slept 15 to a tiny room on a single bed or on the floor but at least they had a dry place to sleep with mosquito nets. During the day, they receive some school lessons and they normally get three meals a day. We left a bag of rice, some fruit, listened as they sang ‘happy birthday’ for us (the only song they claimed to know) and tried to make them giggle with silly games.

All too soon we were on our way back into Phnom Penh. Back past bustling markets. Internet cafes. Restaurants. Shopping malls. Hospitals. All of these unknown worlds to most of the children we met that morning. It’s now several hours since we’ve returned and we still find it hard to put into words what we saw and how we feel about it. It was both tragic to see the situation of these children and uplifting to see the people who do care about them and are trying to make their lives better. And throughout the rest of the day we said to ourselves the famous words: there but for the grace of God go I. As some of the world’s richest citizens, surely we all have an obligation to help not only these children but also the millions of other severely impoverished people around the world?

Comments

  1. Becky
    7th August 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    Wow. Can you send us the info on the charity, such that we can share that experience when we are their in the spring?
    I had seen a documentary on the dump children in India. They are having real difficulty their as garbage collection is becoming competative, so the garbage the reaches the dump has been siffed through several times before it arrives at the dump. That doesn’t leave much for the kids to find.

  2. off white hoodie
    15th November 2021 at 2:40 am #

    I would like to show my affection for your kindness in support of individuals that need help on this matter. Your real commitment to getting the message up and down turned out to be rather good and has constantly permitted ladies just like me to achieve their targets. Your entire interesting recommendations means a great deal to me and far more to my fellow workers. Regards; from all of us.

  3. supreme sweatshirt
    17th November 2021 at 5:30 am #

    Needed to post you one very small word to finally thank you so much yet again considering the precious concepts you’ve discussed in this case. This is strangely generous with you to deliver publicly all a number of us could possibly have supplied for an e book to generate some profit for their own end, even more so considering that you might well have done it in the event you considered necessary. Those strategies additionally worked to provide a easy way to know that the rest have the identical dreams just as my own to find out more in regard to this problem. I’m certain there are several more enjoyable situations in the future for those who discover your site.

  4. paul george
    17th November 2021 at 5:31 am #

    I precisely needed to appreciate you yet again. I am not sure the things I might have made to happen without those basics shown by you concerning such a situation. Completely was an absolute traumatic condition for me personally, however , being able to see this expert strategy you processed that made me to jump over fulfillment. Now i am happier for this service and as well , believe you find out what a great job you have been accomplishing teaching many people thru your blog. Most probably you haven’t come across all of us.

  5. golden goose
    17th November 2021 at 5:31 am #

    I want to get across my passion for your kindness for individuals that absolutely need help on this particular situation. Your personal dedication to getting the solution all through ended up being especially functional and have continually enabled men and women just like me to get to their endeavors. The invaluable guideline entails this much to me and much more to my colleagues. Regards; from all of us.

  6. curry 8
    17th November 2021 at 5:31 am #

    I have to voice my love for your generosity supporting women who really need assistance with in this subject. Your personal commitment to passing the solution throughout had been exceptionally significant and has without exception made women just like me to reach their endeavors. Your entire informative publication can mean a whole lot a person like me and still more to my office colleagues. Regards; from each one of us.

  7. kd13
    28th November 2021 at 5:50 am #

    I simply needed to say thanks again. I am not sure the things I would have gone through in the absence of the ways revealed by you on such situation. It was a very depressing difficulty for me, however , being able to see your professional avenue you handled that made me to leap over fulfillment. I am happier for this support as well as hope that you know what a great job you are always undertaking teaching people today using your website. I know that you have never got to know all of us.

  8. kyrie 4
    29th November 2021 at 7:38 pm #

    I have to voice my love for your generosity in support of folks that really want assistance with this subject. Your special commitment to passing the message all over ended up being especially valuable and has without exception made associates much like me to attain their ambitions. The interesting tips and hints indicates much a person like me and further more to my fellow workers. Many thanks; from each one of us.

  9. off white nike
    29th November 2021 at 7:38 pm #

    Needed to draft you that very little remark to give thanks again considering the exceptional methods you’ve shown at this time. This has been certainly strangely open-handed of you to convey publicly what exactly most people could possibly have offered as an electronic book in making some money for themselves, even more so seeing that you could possibly have tried it if you ever desired. These good ideas in addition acted like the great way to be certain that other individuals have the identical interest similar to my very own to know lots more in respect of this matter. I know there are numerous more pleasant moments in the future for folks who looked over your site.

  10. bape
    29th November 2021 at 7:38 pm #

    I have to show my respect for your kind-heartedness supporting persons who actually need assistance with this question. Your real dedication to getting the solution up and down had been surprisingly valuable and have allowed folks like me to realize their desired goals. Your entire informative facts can mean a whole lot to me and even further to my colleagues. Thanks a ton; from each one of us.

  11. golden goose
    30th November 2021 at 1:46 pm #

    I would like to get across my love for your kind-heartedness giving support to men who actually need help on that situation. Your real dedication to passing the solution across was amazingly significant and have all the time encouraged ladies like me to get to their endeavors. The informative instruction entails a great deal a person like me and somewhat more to my peers. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  12. kd shoes
    3rd December 2021 at 7:00 am #

    I must point out my affection for your kindness giving support to persons who actually need help with this important study. Your real dedication to passing the message across appeared to be especially significant and have permitted professionals just like me to get to their pursuits. Your entire useful suggestions denotes a whole lot to me and a whole lot more to my mates. Thank you; from all of us.

  13. supreme clothing
    3rd December 2021 at 7:01 am #

    I simply had to say thanks again. I do not know the things that I might have accomplished without those tips and hints contributed by you about this area. Completely was the traumatic condition for me personally, but observing the very well-written way you dealt with that forced me to cry over gladness. I am happier for the help and as well , pray you find out what a powerful job you happen to be accomplishing teaching the mediocre ones by way of a site. I am certain you have never got to know all of us.

  14. jordans
    3rd December 2021 at 7:01 am #

    I’m just writing to make you be aware of what a terrific experience our child gained going through your site. She discovered many issues, not to mention how it is like to have an excellent giving heart to have the others just completely grasp specific impossible issues. You truly surpassed people’s expected results. I appreciate you for supplying these beneficial, trusted, explanatory not to mention unique tips on that topic to Ethel.

  15. golden goose
    7th December 2021 at 1:03 pm #

    I intended to draft you the tiny observation to finally thank you very much yet again just for the superb principles you’ve contributed on this page. It was so wonderfully generous of you to deliver unreservedly what most of us might have advertised as an e book to generate some bucks for themselves, most notably seeing that you might well have tried it in the event you wanted. The techniques in addition served as the fantastic way to know that other people online have similar dream like my own to know the truth a good deal more concerning this problem. Certainly there are numerous more fun situations in the future for many who check out your blog.

  16. bape clothing
    7th December 2021 at 1:18 pm #

    I wanted to post you one little bit of note to help say thank you as before for these lovely suggestions you’ve documented above. This has been simply wonderfully open-handed with you giving without restraint exactly what a few individuals could possibly have supplied for an e book to generate some cash on their own, precisely considering the fact that you might have tried it in case you considered necessary. Those good ideas also worked to become a great way to fully grasp many people have the identical fervor like mine to understand lots more around this issue. Certainly there are lots of more enjoyable sessions ahead for people who check out your site.

  17. paul george shoes
    9th December 2021 at 5:39 am #

    Needed to create you a very little note to finally say thanks again regarding the pleasing guidelines you have featured at this time. It is extremely generous of you to provide openly all that most people could possibly have sold as an electronic book to end up making some money for themselves, chiefly now that you could have tried it if you ever desired. Those tips also worked as the easy way to be aware that other people online have a similar zeal really like mine to realize a whole lot more with regard to this problem. I think there are a lot more fun periods up front for individuals that view your site.

  18. yeezy
    12th December 2021 at 6:07 am #

    I want to voice my passion for your kindness giving support to those who must have help on this field. Your real dedication to passing the message all through became wonderfully interesting and has constantly helped professionals just like me to attain their dreams. Your entire useful help entails a great deal to me and especially to my fellow workers. Best wishes; from everyone of us.

  19. nike off white
    12th December 2021 at 6:07 am #

    I am just writing to let you be aware of what a fantastic encounter my cousin’s daughter obtained browsing your site. She picked up numerous pieces, with the inclusion of how it is like to have a very effective teaching heart to have the rest very easily grasp various advanced topics. You undoubtedly surpassed her desires. I appreciate you for presenting these precious, dependable, informative as well as easy tips on that topic to Mary.

  20. kyrie 5
    14th December 2021 at 8:16 pm #

    I would like to voice my gratitude for your kindness for all those that actually need help with this important concept. Your very own commitment to passing the solution all through appears to be remarkably important and has regularly enabled associates like me to achieve their dreams. Your own warm and friendly guide denotes much a person like me and further more to my peers. Best wishes; from all of us.

  21. kawhi leonard shoes
    15th December 2021 at 5:32 am #

    I just wanted to make a brief word in order to appreciate you for the wonderful pointers you are giving at this site. My time intensive internet research has at the end of the day been rewarded with extremely good ideas to exchange with my partners. I would admit that many of us readers actually are extremely fortunate to exist in a great place with many special professionals with useful principles. I feel really privileged to have come across your website and look forward to tons of more thrilling moments reading here. Thank you once more for a lot of things.

  22. supreme
    15th December 2021 at 5:33 am #

    I have to convey my affection for your kind-heartedness in support of persons who should have help with this particular content. Your special dedication to getting the solution all-around had become exceptionally productive and have frequently encouraged women just like me to realize their objectives. Your informative recommendations means much to me and further more to my fellow workers. Warm regards; from all of us.

  23. goyard
    17th December 2021 at 7:26 pm #

    I want to convey my love for your kindness for persons that must have assistance with that idea. Your special commitment to passing the solution up and down appeared to be certainly invaluable and have frequently encouraged associates like me to attain their aims. Your personal useful tutorial means a great deal a person like me and much more to my fellow workers. Thank you; from all of us.

  24. lebron 16
    17th December 2021 at 7:27 pm #

    I wish to express my love for your kindness for individuals that have the need for assistance with in this topic. Your real commitment to passing the solution all over turned out to be definitely significant and have constantly helped regular people just like me to attain their objectives. This interesting guide denotes so much to me and substantially more to my fellow workers. Thank you; from everyone of us.

  25. kyrie 7
    17th December 2021 at 7:27 pm #

    I have to express my passion for your kind-heartedness for persons that really need help with that niche. Your real dedication to passing the solution across turned out to be incredibly productive and have continually allowed individuals just like me to attain their endeavors. Your personal helpful information indicates this much a person like me and even further to my mates. Thanks a ton; from all of us.

  26. golden goose sneakers
    21st December 2021 at 12:58 pm #

    Needed to draft you one little remark to be able to say thank you as before over the nice views you’ve shown above. This is quite shockingly open-handed with people like you to supply unhampered precisely what many of us might have marketed as an e-book in order to make some money on their own, specifically considering that you might have done it in the event you desired. Those things as well served to become a fantastic way to fully grasp that other people have similar passion just like my own to realize many more with regard to this matter. I believe there are several more pleasant sessions up front for individuals who examine your blog.

  27. curry 8
    25th December 2021 at 6:02 pm #

    I simply wanted to appreciate you once again. I am not sure what I would’ve done in the absence of the strategies shown by you relating to that concern. This has been an absolute depressing dilemma in my circumstances, nevertheless being able to see the very skilled approach you treated that took me to jump for fulfillment. Extremely thankful for the guidance as well as pray you comprehend what a great job that you are providing training many people by way of a blog. Most likely you have never got to know all of us.

  28. yeezy supply
    29th December 2021 at 6:45 am #

    I wanted to put you one little remark to finally thank you so much the moment again for your gorgeous secrets you’ve shared at this time. It was quite remarkably open-handed with you to deliver without restraint all most people could have sold as an e-book in order to make some money for themselves, certainly given that you might well have tried it in the event you considered necessary. Those tactics likewise served as a easy way to be certain that many people have a similar interest much like my own to know the truth way more in regard to this condition. I am sure there are thousands of more pleasant situations ahead for folks who discover your blog.

  29. kd shoes
    29th December 2021 at 6:45 am #

    A lot of thanks for your own efforts on this site. My daughter really likes engaging in internet research and it’s obvious why. We all learn all of the lively ways you create both useful and interesting things by means of the website and encourage contribution from other people on the content then my daughter is without a doubt learning a whole lot. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the new year. You are conducting a glorious job.

  30. longchamp
    31st December 2021 at 3:00 pm #

    I must convey my gratitude for your generosity giving support to all those that need assistance with this important subject. Your real dedication to getting the solution throughout appears to be extraordinarily invaluable and have continually made guys and women much like me to arrive at their ambitions. This invaluable hints and tips means a lot to me and additionally to my colleagues. Many thanks; from everyone of us.

  31. jordan 6
    1st January 2022 at 7:46 pm #

    I intended to create you this very small word to be able to thank you so much yet again on the beautiful tips you have featured at this time. This is unbelievably open-handed with people like you to provide unhampered exactly what many of us could possibly have distributed as an electronic book to generate some bucks for their own end, and in particular given that you might have done it if you considered necessary. The suggestions also acted like a good way to fully grasp that some people have a similar fervor just like my own to figure out a great deal more with regards to this problem. I’m certain there are many more fun times ahead for many who examine your blog.

  32. yeezy
    5th January 2022 at 12:12 am #

    I’m just commenting to make you know what a helpful discovery my princess found using your blog. She figured out some issues, including what it’s like to have a great giving mood to have the mediocre ones easily master some multifaceted topics. You really surpassed visitors’ expected results. Thank you for imparting such warm and friendly, dependable, explanatory as well as fun tips about the topic to Emily.

  33. golden goose
    9th January 2022 at 7:45 am #

    My wife and i felt absolutely ecstatic when Emmanuel could round up his preliminary research from your ideas he came across through the site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply always be giving away information and facts which often other people have been trying to sell. And we discover we now have you to give thanks to because of that. The specific illustrations you’ve made, the easy blog navigation, the relationships you will assist to engender – it is everything excellent, and it is leading our son in addition to the family imagine that the topic is exciting, and that is really fundamental. Thank you for all the pieces!

  34. curry shoes
    10th January 2022 at 2:53 pm #

    I have to get across my affection for your generosity for persons who actually need help with that question. Your very own commitment to passing the message along turned out to be certainly insightful and have constantly made those like me to attain their targets. Your important suggestions denotes a whole lot to me and still more to my office workers. Many thanks; from all of us.

  35. stephen curry shoes
    10th January 2022 at 2:55 pm #

    I and my pals appeared to be examining the excellent guidelines located on the website while quickly I got a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the blog owner for those techniques. Those young boys ended up absolutely very interested to study them and already have in reality been taking advantage of them. We appreciate you simply being so helpful and also for deciding upon variety of amazing information millions of individuals are really needing to learn about. Our honest regret for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

  36. yeezy
    4th February 2022 at 11:46 am #

    I would like to show my passion for your kindness giving support to those people who must have guidance on this particular situation. Your very own commitment to passing the solution around became exceedingly interesting and has always made men and women like me to realize their dreams. Your entire interesting suggestions signifies a great deal to me and far more to my peers. Regards; from all of us.

  37. supreme hoodie
    4th February 2022 at 11:46 am #

    I wish to get across my passion for your generosity for men and women that really need guidance on your idea. Your real dedication to getting the message throughout appears to be amazingly effective and has empowered professionals like me to get to their pursuits. This useful report entails a great deal to me and a whole lot more to my fellow workers. Regards; from all of us.

  38. supreme
    8th February 2022 at 4:19 pm #

    I must convey my affection for your kindness supporting individuals that really want help on in this question. Your personal dedication to getting the solution along was exceptionally valuable and has continually permitted women just like me to reach their targets. Your personal informative help means this much to me and still more to my mates. Regards; from everyone of us.

  39. yeezy 700
    8th February 2022 at 4:19 pm #

    I want to show my respect for your kind-heartedness supporting men who absolutely need assistance with this niche. Your very own dedication to getting the solution all through appears to be particularly good and has truly enabled most people just like me to arrive at their pursuits. Your amazing helpful publication indicates a great deal a person like me and a whole lot more to my mates. Thanks a ton; from all of us.

  40. golden goose
    17th February 2022 at 4:32 pm #

    I am only commenting to let you know of the magnificent experience our princess went through browsing your site. She discovered too many details, most notably what it’s like to have a very effective giving spirit to make other individuals with no trouble fully understand some advanced things. You truly surpassed our own expectations. Thank you for coming up with these beneficial, safe, educational and as well as unique tips on that topic to Sandra.

Leave a comment