Epilogue: A Reflection

Uden Travel Blog

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Meeting the Families - Building Day 1 - Building Day 2

The flight home was truly dreadful. Not only did the plane take off more than 2,5 hours behind schedule, I had also been assigned a seat just behind the pantry, where you normally find parents using an attached baby's cot. Now, this might seem like a slightly more spacious seat but it's most horrible place to sit when you try to sleep since there's nowhere to put your legs. In a normal seat you can shove them all the way under the seat in front of you. Here you'd just hit a wall. Most uncomfy!

Arriving back in Holland I found it was freezing. Quite a shock, a change in temperature of more than 30 degrees. The train ride was fortunately comfortable and dad was waiting in Oss to pick me up.

A Reflection

During the building project Dave had frequently reminded us to sit back and reflect on what we were doing.

Building Day 3 - Building Day 4
An advice I had gladly followed. I often found myself thinking if it was a good thing I'd done over the past six months. I'd gathered more than 2.680 GBP. The whole event had made MAG a profit of 30.000 GBP plus we paid for and helped with the building of two houses for poor Cambodian families.
The thought that kept troubling me though was if I had done my sponsors and donors justice. Sure, I had paid for my own flight ticket and the trekking since I considered it unfair that any donations would be used for this. Still, here I was in a rather luxurious hotel and having dinner in fancy restaurants during the evenings and a splurge of lunches during the day. This is not quite what I had in mind when I was thinking about volunteering ... this almost felt like a holiday.

And this kept troubling me a bit, especially after discussing it with Martina and Dave.

Blessing of House 2 - Blessing of House 1 - Presenting Gifts at the Local School
Mind you, I think this 'event' is much better than many other ones that MAG or other charities offer in the way that you actually go and do something for the local community. I would never participate in or sponsor an activity like 'cycle from Vietnam to Cambodia' or 'climb the Kilimanjaro'. That's really like paying for somebody else's holiday. As such, I completely agree with the recent TB blog entry 'Charity Sponsored' Trips: A Pet Hate. Also, it still is a bit silly to fly 17 westerners to Siem Reap to build two houses while the locals are much better at it.

Having said all of this I still think that we did a good thing. Without all of the raising of both funds and awareness MAG wouldn't have 30.

Phnom Kulen Waterfall - Demining Demo - Celebration at Pub Street - Sunrise over Angkor Wat
000 GBP to invest into their extremely important work. Without the fundraising there would also be 2 poor families without a proper house. So, how do I set this all straight then? How do I solve this in such a way that's completely fair to the sponsors that made donations? I decided that I would recalculate the money that went to MAG and the two houses and pay for any remaining accommodation and food myself, on top of the flight and trekking I aleady paid for. Only thereby could I guarantee that every single penny that my sponsors donated was going straight to either one of these good causes. And that's exactly what I did upon arrival back home. And it's also what I think any honorable person should do. As the Buddha once taught, it's not your actions that count, it's the intention behind them.

With this out of the way I can now safely say that I had a most wonderful time during this second visit to Cambodia. It was really special to work with and among the locals for four days, explore the country side for two days and last but not least have so much fun with the other volunteers, the crew and local guides. This has indeed been an experience to cherish for a long, long time. In 2011 I hope to receive a volunteering placement through VSO and I most certainly wouldn't mind if the concerned country would be Cambodia ...

Gijsje says:
action and intention.
Posted on: Jan 03, 2011
Biedjee says:
well said
Posted on: Dec 10, 2010
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Meeting the Families - Building D…
Building Day 3 - Building Day 4
Blessing of House 2 - Blessing of…
Phnom Kulen Waterfall - Demining …
photo by: edsander