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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 itís 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, Tuanís 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 priestís 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 didnít 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 canít, so I snapped this photo to share later.



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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 128 N: 2360] (8578)
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