Faintings by factory workers are a regular occurrence here. They do all kinds of tests, improve ventilation, advise the workers to eat better, get more sleep, whatever, but I don’t think that’s going to change a thing. For whatever reason, it’s a cultural phenomenon with its own expectations. One young woman faints for some reason–or maybe just suggests that she feels funny or something–and that is the trigger, giving permission for everyone else to “faint” too. There’s probably no problem. It’s just what you’re supposed to do. I suspect the best response is to have a section of clean factory floor and just lay them side by side until they decide they’ve been on the floor long enough and them let them go back to work. Taking them to clinics, etc., probably doesn’t help and just perpetuates the problem.

Wait, it’s Tuesday!

This morning I was riding a motorcycle taxi (a motordupe) across town to our 10:00 AM mass, just like I do every Sunday, and I was thinking it was strange that this microfinance place was open on Sunday.



Then it dawned on me: “This isn’t Sunday!  It’s Christmas!” and I considered how it’s just like a Sunday with all of us off from work and going to mass and that I would have the afternoon after mass to catch up on some paperwork.




Then it further dawned on me: “Wait!  This isn’t Sunday!  And it is Christmas, but it’s a work day in Cambodia” where 94% of the population is Buddhist with zero interest in Christmas and the birth of Christ.  As I saw this woman dusting off the wares in her little shop, I realized that this afternoon after mass I would be heading back to work at the Deaf Development Programme.  “It’s Tuesday!”, just an ordinary Tuesday and an ordinary workday for all of Cambodia except for the few of us Catholics who had a service on Christmas morning.

Christmas 2018: Santa Outfits

The understanding of Christmas isn’t very deep in Cambodian society and most outward signs of the season are commercially driven and geared toward children.

Every neighborhood will have several shops selling Santa suits for primary school children.

Most schools in Cambodia are commercial, that is, they are private schools not associated with the government and also basically uncontrolled by the government.  Anyone can start a school and many people do to make money.   If you have at least one foreign teacher–or even if one of your teachers knows some English–you can call it an international school which has great cachet for the parents.  And then if you’re selling the foreign ideas, you have to celebrate things like Christmas so that creates the market for these Santa outfits.

This is where the Santa outfits end up, on the kids participating in a Christmas program and knowing next to nothing about the meaning of Christmas.

Buddhist Fund-Raising

Organizations collect money in Cambodia just like everywhere else in the world, but here they don’t use robocalls and direct mail.  It’s a more people-to-people approach here where figures like these process through the streets accompanied by a tuk-tuk with a loudspeaker announcing the presence of the figure–and the accompanying woman who collects the money for a Buddhist organization in this case.