Saturday, September 26, 2009

Also has anyone noticed that I'm up to 20 books on my list of what I've read this year?? Click on each book if you want to know what they're about.

Feeling a little fragile

I think it's cos I'm really tired and have a headache. I love being here but it's very full on and you see so much that you just can't fix.

Very much looking forward to seeing Tahu on Tuesday. Only 3 more sleeps!! Will miss Annie and my orphans though.

Does anyone remember me? I feel like I've been gone for so long and everyone will have forgotten who I am.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dentists, haircuts and HIV

It feels like ages since I’ve last done an update but probably it’s only a few days. I’ll try and remember everything!

I went to the dentist for the first time in nearly 8 years the other day. It cost me $30US and I got a tiny filling that didn’t even need an injection and an xray and my teeth cleaned of course. My first thought is what a relief that there was nothing wrong and my next one is that I’m stoked I haven’t wasted time, money and energy going to the dentist every year for a checkup!

On Friday we took 4 of the girls from the orphanage out for the day. They are 16, 14, 13 and 7 and we all got our nails done and some of us got haircuts too. I got one and it cost $1.50. Bit shorter but all good. Can’t complain at that price!!

Yesterday and today we have gone to the orphanage just to play with the kids. They are all so excited to see us and come running and all want hugs and cuddles. Got some gorgeous photos because they love having pictures taken and then I can show them right away because my camera is digital. Also I’ve taken bubble mixture most times and that makes for a lot of fun. Today when it had all quieted down I found one little boy crying. He was obviously very tired and so I held him til he fell asleep and then put him to bed. He was just so cute! Again I’ll send the photo out another time. It is so nice to be able to give these kids the attention because as much as they are so well cared for they can’t always have cuddles or fall asleep in someones arms.

It is quite obvious to us now that these children are sick and in some cases dying. I try really hard to think about it but it’s hard not to see the sores or hear them coughing. One wee boy has a growth on his nose which Annie tells me is actually cancer and as with all HIV people it will spread very quickly.

There is one wee girl who arrived last week. She is 6 months old. Her name is said ShinShin but everyone calls her Lulu. She is just gorgeous and all smiles whenever she sees me except today because she is sick. And it’s not like when we get a cold, it can be life threatening every time. We have all fallen in love with a child or 2 and for me Lulu is one of them. I have lots of photos and will be very sad to say goodbye. We have talked a bit about adoption but the general consensus is that even if we could (HIV children aren’t allowed to be adopted) then it would be unfair to take them away from their culture and family and friends. A tough decision to make but we can see the reasons behind it.

We had one of our team members go home yesterday. We are all here for different lengths of time and what a mixture we are! Ron Morrison has been here teaching budgeting, forecasting and cashbook and his students all loved him as did we. He has been a lot of fun to have around.

Next there is Dr Scott Gray. He is from Dunedin and was a dentist and then went on to be a professor at the dental school. He is here doing work with the International University and will tomorrow be giving a lecture on something about dentistry. He has handled everything AMAZINGLY well considering his age (he’s 86) and continues to amaze me with his quick wit and never complaining.

There is Dr Annie Chen-Green of course. She is a Chinese born kiwi and has endless energy and ideas and is constantly in meetings! I’m sharing a room with her and we have had a lot of fun. Also handy when I was very sick last week as she threw pill after pill at me to fix everything that was wrong!

We also have Sheena staying with us. She is 24, from Rotorua and is here with another team but while they are out of town she’s been staying with us.

So we get a lot of looks, an 86 year old western man, a very white western girl (that’s me), a Chinese woman, a little person (Ron is a dwarf) and a tall Maori girl. What a mixture but so much fun.

This weekend has been a long weekend here in Cambodia. It is the Festival of the Dead which sounds awful but is actually about honoring and celebrating your ancestors.

On Wednesday Scott is going home and Annie and I are flying up to the North and will be doing medical checks on the border of Cambodia and Laos. As Annie said we will be guessing as to who has HIV and who has TB and whatever else they have! Will definitely be an experience.

Ok until next time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dentists everywhere!

At first I thought it was because we're doing a lot of work here with CTAP which is a dental charity that works with people in the prisons and slums but actually it's because there are no regulations here on dentistry and so there are loads. Just cos a place says it's a dentist doesn't mean a dentist works there!

This is actually my second attempt at this email. I lost my last one when sending! It was really long too! So annoying!

So I'm in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I landed here on Friday. Was really nervous coming through customs because I had over 6kg of medicines and dental equipment. None of it is illegal but if they find I had it I would more then likely have to pay them money (bribes) to get it through and I have NO experience in that! But when I'd got my visa and through passport control a man and a woman approached me. One was Dr Sonita who is a dentist with CTAP and the other was her relative who works in Customs. They got my bag and my form and just walked me out! Was so crazy and a relief! Yesterday we went and did the same thing for the last member of our team, Ron Morrison. It was quite surreal going through customs to meet him. Would never happen in NZ or Aus!

On Saturday morning we were picked up at 7am to go to one of the prisons in Phnom Penh. We spent the morning there doing tooth extractions, fillings and medical checks. Well everyone else did. I walked around and did things like take photos! I held one female prisoners hand while they did something to her teeth but I couldn't watch! No way I could be a dentist eh. There is every kind of person there. We were beside the teenage boys area and behind us were the men. To get in we walked past the womans area and if a woman has children who can't be looked after by anyone else then they are in there too. There was one gorgeous little girl who watched us nearly the whole time! I went and talked to her but she went all shy and it's hard with a translator. I will send out a photo when I can. The prisoners are either in normal clothes or a blue top and pants. The ones in normal clothes are waiting for sentencing or trial. This is one of the nicest prisons here. Lots of flowers and bushes and the prisoners were all relaxed and some even joking with the guards. All claim to be innocent apparently and here they might just be telling the truth. They have a factory, a garden and a room where people (woman mostly) are taught sewing skills so they have something to do when they leave. I was nervous at first to be right in the middle of a prison but there were no problems. Everyone just watched us! I wasn't sure whether the random white girl or the dental work was more interesting.

In the afternoon I helped Huy (said like hoi) work out how to use his mac laptop. It has been donated to CTAP and as Huy is in charge of 3 orphanages he gets to use it. He looks after about 300 orphans. One of the orphanages has about 90 children in it and they are all HIV or AIDS children. This is where we are teaching out of over the next few days.

I had to go home sick yesterday which was REALLY disappointing but how I got home was on a moto (motorbike). It was SO MUCH FUN! It was not nearly as scary as I thought, you feel really safe! Or maybe Khov was just a good driver. He is a orphan that is involved with CTAP in the livlihood project. He was given this moto to use the day before yesterday to use to make money by taking passengers and so on. He lives in a Wat with the monks. A wat is a temple.

Here an orphan can mean a child with only one parent because here they see that if a parent is on their own they have to work twice as hard so aren't around as much.

Not sure what else is planned for the rest of the week but that's what I was expecting. You never know what to expect!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Delayed, delayed, delayed...but not Cancelled!

I've made it to Bangkok! It took me over 30 hours instead of 24 though because my flight from Melbourne to here was delayed from 1.55pm to us leaving more like 8pm! To be honest it wasn't a problem for me. I was aware that with all my flights I was going to get delayed and I got a free dinner, $50 voucher for my next booking and if I'd wanted it there was free tea, coffee and softdrinks on the flight. But actually I slept over 7 of the 9 hour flight. We got to Bangkok at 2am local time (that's 7am NZ time) and I got through customs without even getting asked to declare anything and then even managed to find a guy from my hotel to take me there. He was like you were meant to be here at 9pm, as if I needed that pointed out! My room is just what I needed. Clean, QUIET, so good.

I have to say though that not all the passengers on my flight were as happy to wait around as me! One guy had the airport police called on him and so he was not allowed to go on the flight. Other people had transfers that they will have missed but if you have travel insurance that's not really a problem (Note: never fly long haul without travel insurance!). Another guy was meant to be in London today for a wedding and so he won't be able to make it but well maybe he should have planned that a bit better!

Ok this isn't the most interesting of updates but never mind. I am SO STOKED to be here! I was prepared for a pretty bad night considering how long I would have travelled for and that I would be on my own and a few other things but actually being here was just amazing. Happy Jo! I recommend it to everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The countdown is at zero!

Has anyone noticed the countdown that's on the sidebar of this blog? It's been counting down to when I leave for my trip. And I left this morning. And now I'm in Melbourne airport wasting time as my next flight isn't for another 5 hours (!!!) and I just noticed that my blog countdown has all zeros! I have been through so many different things today! This morning I was feeling awful: scared, tired, sore and for a while there I had visions of myself spewing on mum and dads carpet because I felt so bad. But survived that. Got to the airport and have managed the first flight. I slept most of it. Now I feel: excited, tired, sore, positive, proud. Proud because I have followed through with this trip and I had first said I'd do it about 2 years ago. Is it wrong to feel proud? Pride is almost always a negative thing. Not for me today. Today it is positive because feeling good about me and what I do is something I very rarely do!

More to come later.

Monday, September 07, 2009

3 nights to go!

So it's Monday. Tomorrow is my last day at MYOB. I got a new job last week which I am really excited about. Working for Acclipse (which is actually our competition). I will be a Training Consultant. That means I train the clients on how to use our software (accountant practice management software) and create the material. Also it means a payrise, new challenges, my own office and I'm based in town so lunch with the niece and nephew! (haha Denise and Denephew) I start Nov 4 after I get back from my trip.

Speaking of the Trip, I leave on Thursday! It's come up so fast but can't wait now. 8 weeks in Asia. BRING IT ON! Actually just looked and it's 7.5 weeks. Close enough!

Had such a busy weekend! But managed to see everyone I needed to see and do groceries, 3 loads of washing and get almost everything I need for my trip. Just got to pack and pick up a couple of last minute things like hairties and a toothbrush and I'm all ready. Well it's not quite that simple but close enough!

While I'm away I'm hoping to be updating this blog quite regularly. Although it will probably say very similar to what I send out in emails. And also am going to be keeping a journal of everything so I don't forget!!

3 weeks tomorrow til I see Tahu. I'm so excited.