The long awaited day to visit Salla Lavala has arrived. We were all very excited and some of us somewhat nervous in the lead up to the day, but the amazingly warm welcome we were greeted by upon arrival at the school, after an hours tuk tuk ride in peak hour traffic, banished any and all apprehensions of what was in store. We were swamped by children instantaneously as soon as we departed the tuk tuks and were lead into the school where we briefly mingled with the kids before joining them in their classes and cleaning various structures in the school. We were all blown away by how happy, generous and bubbly all the kids were especially when we joined in a hard fought game of hockey with one of the classes. The time we spent there flew by but before our departure the kids sang a traditional Cambodian song and presented us each with a krama as a token of their appreciation. In return we sang a faultless rendition of 'Power of Your Love' before saying our goodbyes.
From Lavalla, we made our way to a cafe to hear an insightful and eye opening presentation from Sister Helene about the tragedy of human trafficking which is prevalent in Cambodia, and the good works of Horizons which work to give victims a second chance at life through assisting them in completing their schooling and training to be able to work in hotel business environments. We were all very moved by the presentation and it further conveyed the social injustice of which Cambodia is so abundant and put into perspective the poverty and hardship we have been witness to over the past 2 weeks.
Tonight we experienced a taste of the adversity that the children we became so close with today, experience every day, during our dinner experience at Dine in the Dark, by having one of our senses completely cut off, being immersed in pitch black while eating our dinner. The struggle to identify what was on our plates and disconcerting feeling of not being able to see, exemplified what it would like to have a disability, especially one hindering such a major sense as that of sight. Today was another eye opening day for all of us, we are sad that our amazing journey is very near to its end, but are all so appreciative of the insight and experiences we have gained from it.
Darcy Crettenden on behalf of Marist Solidarity Mission in Cambodia.