Adventures Our Cambodia Journey Travel

Delivering Aid to the Slums

30 August 2015 — Today was emotionally and physically taxing. Today we visited our kids and their families at the Street Children’s School on the railroad tracks. Our group delivered all of the supplies we brought from the States and all of the food we were able to bargain for during the Amazing Race. There are three thoughts that really stick with me from this day. The first is what Bob said to me after Sam, Manny, the bus driver, and I loaded all of the rice and supplies onto the bus. He said, “Pat, you Soldiers are just so good at humping it.” What he means is how Soldiers just go against the grit. It’s almost instinctual for us to push through any physical adversity that is laid upon us and it’s something I do with pride. Bob made me realize that whether I’m in uniform or not, I’m a Soldier and the things I’ve learned over the years stick with me. I’m happy about that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional experience I was about to have when we finally arrived in the place our kids called home.

Photo by Makara Sernett

Photo by Makara Sernett

I have to say the whole experience this day was overwhelming. There are so many emotions and thoughts that come to mind when I close my eyes and reflect on this day. From the moment we arrived at the train tracks where the school is located and so many of these kids live, they ran to us with open arms. They were so excited to see all of us. And as we pulled supplies out for them and their families, all they could think about doing is help us. All around there were children carrying supplies that weighed more than half they did. There was no stealing. There was no malicious intent. Just kids full of hope and dreams wanting to help us because in the end they knew we were there to help them. There are so many rare experiences that we as humans don’t get to live to see. I can say that this was one of them for me in my 30 years of life. I often have such a paranoid outlook on life but to see fellow humans that have so little be so trusting really opened my eyes.

Photo by Peter Phoeng

Once everything was consolidated, we worked to distribute all of the supplies. We prioritized with the YMCA school children and their families first. But we were able to bargain for so much that there was plenty to go around. I’m so glad that we were able to provide for just about everyone that was there which numbered in the hundreds. It was like a scene in a movie. Humanitarian aid being provided to those who need it. We had a human wall to prevent anyone from being overrun but in the end, everyone was so kind to one another. It was a rare moment where humans chose to be good to one another regardless of their situation.

Photo by Sam Choeun

Photo by Sam Choeun

aid to slums-khmerican

Photo by Khmerican

The second thought that comes to mind is how we need to develop sustainable systems. What we did today was wonderful but it’s only a temporary solution. We need to figure out ways to enable these children and families for more than just months at a time. While it produces hope and it’s definitely better than nothing, Makara and I ran into so many kids from previous years that no longer can be in the program and are in varying circumstances. Many have continued to go to school and were doing better. But so many more regressed and were struggling to create and future. I suppose this is true from anyone though. Even in America where the majority are fortunate and have opportunity, many still choose to give up. We have to remember that even with opportunity, not everyone will succeed or want to.

Photo by Melissa Hem

Photo by Melissa Hem

The last thought I had was how strong of a bond all of us in the group developed. Mere days ago, most of us were strangers. And yet now we were as close as brothers and sisters who would die for one another. It’s something I’ve often experienced as a Soldier but seldom outside of the world I’ve grown accustomed to. And I couldn’t be happier for the experience. I often thought about how I could explain the feeling to Makara. And now she knew. This bond we shared is strong, beautiful, infinite. I know that we will always be a part of each other’s lives and with this shared goal, we will be able to make a difference in so many people’s lives. This was one of many important days that we lived through but for me it was a turning point. It again opened up my eyes to the way a majority of the people in the world live. I’m so fortunate for the life I live and I hope that Makara and I will continue to be able to help others. I know that we will work with our brothers and sisters to create sustainable systems and to educate our fellow humans to improve their own lives. After all, what more should we expect from each other than to love one another?



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