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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Village kids

I recently had a visitor to my home in Kompong Chhnang, a young Australian woman named Sarah. She only stayed for a few days but I certainly enjoyed having her company and showing her around some of the Kompong Chhnang villages.

At one village we stopped to visit a temple and chatted to the monks. There was a school attached to the temple and as we were leaving the school was breaking for lunch. There were a few kids standing outside the sala staring at us.

They looked pretty cute so I decided to take their photograph. In no time at all there were many smiling faces and more coming. It seemed everyone wanted to see the foreigners and get into their picture.

As we left they walked with us until they reached their homes—homes like these.

It was just before Christmas when we were there and it occurred to me that these kids make a lie of the myths we in the West grow up with. I was always told that Santa comes to all good kids all over the world. Somehow I don't think these are bad kids but I doubt that any of them have a clue who Santa Claus is. They won't have received even one toy on Christmas day. I doubt that they'll see as many toys in their lifetime as most Australian kids received on that one day.

I don't write this to gain your sympathy—not because of the lack of toys anyway—these kids are generally pretty happy and don't miss what they don't know. They are delightfully friendly, as you can see.

Sadly, they lack a quality education and for most there are no great prospects for the future. Hopefully they can retain their smiles despite this.

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