What a difference a day makes….
Our neighbor at the Maryknoll office is a four-star general near the top at the Ministry of Immigration. He just finished a two-month expansion and renovation of his house, and this weekend I found out that was so his daughter could get married there.
The tent companies are extremely resourceful and here they created an air conditioned room in the courtyard of the house. Here the workers are finishing the last preparations.
Motorcycles are the number one mode of transportation in Cambodia, with millions of them on the roads. Often, riding behind cyclists, it is difficult to know if they are men or women–unless the women are wearing dresses–because even in this normal 85º to 100º weather, Cambodians wear heavy jackets and scarves. And gloves. But the gloves are generally restricted to the women drivers who are wearing the gloves to protect their hands not from wear and tear but from the sun. As little skin as possible is to be exposed to the sun lest it be tanned or darkened.
Education is Cambodia in normal times is generally uneven and inadequate, and Covid made the situation worse. The schools were closed a year and a half and an attempt at online learning was not effective. A good number of students don’t have electricity much less a computer or smartphone or wi-fi connection.
The current school year began late, in January, 2023, and it was anticipated that the new year would start in January, 2024. Schools were preparing for that schedule. Suddenly the government announces this school year will end three weeks into November and the new school year starts December 1st.
This throws the planning of NGOs and groups supporting education really out of whack. Maryknoll has a month-long program to help older students catch up and adjust to the curriculum after missing so much school but now that has to be dropped. The kids suffer….
When I first came to Phnom Penh, one of the institutions of the capital city was Sambo the elephant who spent the day at Wat Phnom giving rides for tourists. That was his life until he was retired in 2014 to an elephant refuge in the mountains where he spent the last nine years of his life in peace until he died this past week.