Take 13 (Click the number for info of entire trip)
The pork soup session was over. After washing the church floor and every body has gone, the church keeper got back to me and we sat down to map out what can be done with nearly 4 million of riel in my possession.
The simplest way to relay the fund donated by my co-workers at Alcon Laboratories and by other friends at TrekEarth is to give away by cash to recipients, but Tuan Bui advised me it is the less effective one, since poor people has hundred of things in need and they would use the money to buy thing and leave their stomachs empty. He suggested that we would use his two boats to buy rice from Siem Reab tomorrow, and hire porters to move rice to his church. He asked me how many thousand riel to be given, and he then got frozen in silence as I disclosed to him that the given amount is 900 American dollars, and I must complete within two hours by tomorrow morning. He said it’s impossible to exchange such an amount of currency into Cambodian riel within this poor village to buy rice, and my answer was that I already predicted this situation and had the fund in Cambodian cash now.
After a few more feedbacks from Tuan, I finalized the process:
* Tuan will row his boat to local rice dealer to verify the exact price and available amount.
* Before 4:00 AM tomorrow, Tuan will complete and give me a list of 90 poorest families of Chong Kneas.
* With the set of 45 blank white cards I brought along from Houston, Tuan will cut in two and have the name of head of those 90 families on it, to prevent fake cards. This task must be done by 5:00 AM.
* Starting at 5:00 AM, Tuan’s wife will use her boat to row around the village to distribute the cards, and announce the rice distribution will begin at 7:00 AM and end at 9:00 AM, Monday, March 19, 2007, right at the boat of rice dealer. We will not use the church to handle the donation, against the priest’s decision. However, I decided that my nephew and I must spend the night at the church, since this was the only space available in a floating poor village where motel, hotel or other types of lodging are at least 20 km away, inside Siem Reab town.
While Tuan rowed off to rice dealer for inventory check, I sat down in front of the church, half desperate with pressure from the priest and from the lack of basic conveniences and sanitation for my nephew, half worrying about any possible reason that can cause me unable to distribute the donations. My spirit was so down and weak. I was thinking about some good excuses for myself to give up this task. At that moment, a woman approached her mobile-shop to us, her naked son with a basket of bananas over his head trying to sell to us some. I felt like the boy looked straight into my eyes with an invisible question of my presence here.
I didn’t buy from them. I gave them some money, and said thanks. I wished the friends who contributed the fund to be with me, at this moment, at this location on earth. But I knew that they can’t, so I snapped this photo to share later.
Critiques | Translate
PSYOPS (0) 2007-05-25 11:26
Don't feel lonely in this lonely planet, man!
Reading your story, I can make the head count: the vendor, her son, your nephew, and you.
And now, I am with you, open eyes, open heart toward what you were doing with the fund from your respectful and lovely friends.
Besides the green smiling face to credit your humanitarian achievement, I wish I can show you that I am taking my hat off. You are great, but your friends are even more.
nicol_g (859) 2007-05-25 18:09
Some passages from your note/story remind me of a 'talk' we had before your departure to this place - about the endeavour that valuable, meaningful things/actions require...
Thank you for sharing the image, Thanh, and for all the effort you made to accomplish this task.
TRASH (0) 2007-05-25 18:52
I am sorry but I must tell a truth: as I learning about your proposed leg of trip to Cambodia, I observed that you were as excited as you had been about your return to Yuanyang, or as your reuion with your relatives in Danang. Your exitement has troubled me somewhat. You were so decided and positive. And I was worrying "what if a negative detail raises doubt, fear, suspicion against your effort..." I was afraid at some point you may give up. This unexpected situation has happenend to me more than once in my past. For all that concern, I didn't contribute to to fund to make it heavier to you, but just a share to your out-of-pocket gambling to make the trip become true. In short, I expected you to lose, or to back out from such a front. Had you surrendered, you have the option to return the donations but not my sharing. You were combat-photographer in military operations where things have been learned and practiced in training schools to be carried out reasonably, but this type of humanitarian task doesn't requires talent—it demands your heart.
I am glad you made it. God bless!
I guess there will be more details to tell, and I am looking forward, day by day.
mikecone (15) 2007-05-25 21:46
Quietly, I follow up the story of your trip to Chong Kneas. Quietly, I credit a happy smile to your today posting. I really enjoy the feeling of relaxed darkness. Once you decided to stay the night right on location, your shot shows time slowing down, and the waves getting idle. No rush. At this very moment, a vision or a smile exchange replaces all verbal conversation. I feel humanity in this simple shot, Thanh!
happypoppeye (4817) 2007-05-26 0:37
Great photo. Great note. I just don't like the title. I have been to Chong Kneas and I saw anything but floating misery. Now the walk through ??Phnom Krum?? was a different story, but even there, just because the people are poor, doesn't mean they are miserable. The people throughout Chong Kneas were some of the happiest people I saw in Cambodia. Now I'm not here to tell you they aren't miserable but poor doesn't equal misery and the people in this photo look quite happy or at least content. I'm sure you know alot more about this than me though and the people there can definitely use as much help as possible. Don't take any of this wrong, I am just talking about the photo and title and NOT the work you are doing. So, great photo, just doesn't match the title.
YFChong (19) 2007-05-26 8:31
Your picture is great with the boy naked. I been there early May, they lived a different life compare to others. Thanks for sharing.
Flamboyant (0) 2007-05-26 19:09
Thank you for posting this true life of Viet children living over Tonle Sap Lake. We the young generation in VN doesn't have much chance to travel and witness different situations. Your report gives us the info, the truth, and understanding.
Reviewing your album, we are sad to see that their condition has not been improved and their nakedness became a routine:
- Copyright: Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) (8580)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-03-18
- Categories: Daily Life, Food
- Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L-USM, SanDisk Ultra II 2Gg
- Exposure: f/9.0, 1/250 seconds
- Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Theme(s): The Floating Misery, A quick return to Chong Kneas [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-05-25 4:24