Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saving children from Cambodia's trash heap

If we could all be as bold and courageous as Noun. To turn an emotional response into action is very admirable indeed. Here's a bit of her story.

Walking down a street in Cambodia's capital city, Phymean Noun finished her lunch and tossed her chicken bones into the trash. Seconds later, she watched in horror as several children fought to reclaim her discarded food.

Noun stopped to talk with them. After hearing their stories of hardship, she knew she couldn't ignore their plight.

"I must do something to help these children get an education," she recalls thinking. "Even though they don't have money and live on the sidewalk, they deserve to go to school."

Six years after that incident, Noun is helping many of Phnom Penh's poorest children do just that.

Within weeks, she quit her job and started an organization to give underprivileged children an education. Noun spent $30,000 of her own money to get her first school off the ground.

It is no easy task. Hundreds of them risk their lives every day working to support themselves and their families.

"I have seen a lot of kids killed by the garbage trucks," she recalls. Children as young as 7 scavenge hours at a time for recyclable materials. They make cents a day selling cans, metals and plastic bags.

Noun recruits the children at the dump to attend her organization because, she says, "I don't want them to continue picking trash and living in the dump. I want them to have an opportunity to learn."

Read the rest of Noun's story here.

Or, visit the People Improvement Organization website to see how you can get involved.

What stirs your soul?

What gets your fire burning?

Act on it!

Volunteer and you might find your soul mate

If you're looking for love and not having much luck, maybe you could increase your success by getting a bit more passionate -- about helping others.

When singles write to advice columnists complaining about being lonely, they are often urged to volunteer.

Read the rest of the CNN article here.

Personally, I have not met anyone while volunteering on a project together, but I guess you could say I met my fiance while working in Cambodia. It could have been considered volunteering at the rate I was being paid. We didn't work together, but he became my trusty driver and only friend for my first 9 months there.

We now have a small tour operation and try to put together small scale development projects out in the countryside as a way to give back. We both like the idea of helping others who have less opportunities.

If you are lonely, go out and find somewhere to volunteer today!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Camping in my uncle's house

I was so excited to have a weekend off for camping up in the Santa Cruz area. The weather had been great all week.

Then the weather reports came in...RAIN predicted for Saturday and Sunday. NOOOOO!

I persisted and went anyway, irregardless of the threat of rain. After all, it seemed sunny enough.

And it was very lovely upon arriving in Santa Cruz. With bright skies with few clouds above.

Alas, it would not remain. Thankfully I thought to call my aunt. I recall hearing that my uncle was down spending time at his house (sorting through his "collections" no less). I thought I would check in to see if he was still in town.

Unfortunately he was back in Oregon, but the good news was that the house was available. My aunt had to check with the tenant, but the upstairs was available.

I passed the next couple of hours waiting for a call back at Costco (looking for dried black currants, but finding towels, Maranatha almond butter, trail mix and Jodi Picoult novels).

I was hungry, so I wandered over to Planet Fresh for a tasty burrito. I chose the Thai chicken with black beans and white rice wrapped in an onion/garlic tortilla. As I was eating it, the rain began. There went my beautiful day.

Thankfully the tenant called me to let me know where I could find the house key as she would be leaving town for the weekend. Rock on! Now I just had to get directions. I knew where the house was but just couldn't recall how to get from point A to point B.

Since I was in the vicinity of the public library, I decided to drop in on the internet section to see if I could Google the address. Unfortunately, their computers required library cards and a password. I didn't have my old library card with me and certainly didn't want to pay for a replacement. All I needed was a phonebook. Where to find a map?

I scoured the entrance area for any kind of map or public phone to no avail. Finally I walked back into the library to ask where they kept their phone books.

As I was searching for phone book map, my aunt called me back. I was not talking loudly and even moved towards the main entrance to find something to write down the directions. It wasn't good enough because one of the librarians was pointing and mouthing to me that there was no talking on phones. Oops!

But there was NO sign saying this.

All's well that ends well. I got the directions and then I was off to the house.

It had been awhile since I had last been in the house, and I had never been upstairs before. The last time I was there it was completely full of my uncle's collections. Now it was mostly cleaned out with only a couple of rooms full.

Because it's such an old, rundown house, it has the old house musty smell. But staying there was like a little discovery adventure since it still has a lot of the old fixtures.

I spent the evening relaxing and reading one of the newly purchased books by my new favorite auther, Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult. Listening to the rain splattering the roof and dripping from the eaves is so calming.

The only downside was trying to sleep amidst the sounds of rodents scurrying about overhead in the rafters. It was a reminder of my nights in Cambodia when I was fighting the small plague of rats in my ceiling and kitchen. At least the stray cats were happy.

By morning, the rain was gone and sun was peeking through the windows. I had no hurry to go anywhere and enjoyed sleeping in late reading my book.

Now that's a relaxing weekend getaway!

I only got up to go visit Vintage Faith Church for the 11 o'clock service. It would be my first time to attend since it changed from Graceland four or so years ago. What a treat it was as Dan Kimball spoke on being missional. I could have sworn that he kept looking at me throughout the service, but maybe that was because I was the only one wearing a fuzzy, sky blue knit hat.

I can't wait to go back to spend another time at my uncle's big old red falling down musty house.

Choosing a spouse

I have recently been confronted with the question of how to choose your marriage partner. Do you go for "love", or potential financial stability? What if there is a commitment made, but another opportunity arises that may seem a better fit?

In doing a simple Google search for "how to choose a husband," the following sites proved interesting:

eHow's "How to Choose a Husband"
Choosing the right husband is just as important as choosing the right shoes that go with the handbag, that goes with the belt, that goes with the dress, that goes with the house that Jack built. Wait a minute, something in that sentence isn't right . . .

Back to the point: Marriage is or, rather, should be a lifetime commitment. With that in mind, there are a number of qualities a woman must keep in mind when choosing her partner.

Read the the four steps here.

Ezine Articles' "10 Low EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Ways to Choose a Husband"
In choosing the right man for you, you need to use your Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Here are 10 LOW EQ ways to do it that will guarantee disaster.

1. Choosing the obvious ones to avoid.
2. Choosing by sexual attraction alone.
3. Choosing by externals alone.
4. Rushing.
5. Rushing.
6. Rushing.
7. Not checking out his attitude toward women.
8. Trusting only your intellect.
9. Trusting only your feelings.
10. Misunderstanding the nature of feelings.

Read the details here.

Your Tango's "How To Choose A Husband: Dating advice from a priest via The New York Times."
Trumping news of war, health, food, pets or fashion, the most e-mailed item currently on The New York Times' site is Maureen Dowd's column from July 6 called "An Ideal Husband."

In light of celebrity divorces stealing recent headlines, Dowd turned to a man whose motto on marriage would have to be "Do as I say, not as I do": a Catholic priest.

His advice is not of the "Thou shalt..." variety, in fact spirituality is mentioned only as a cautionary tale of the heartache experienced after the failed marriage of a devout Catholic and a devout Muslim. Instead he offers tidbits that, regardless of one's take on marriage or religion, serve as good guidelines for choosing a partner. To list a few:

  • avoid mother-obsessed men
  • a man with close friends and family signals an openness to intimacy
  • watch out for financial inequality or irresponsibility
  • laugh! a sense of humor is hugely important

That NYT readers were compelled to e-mail love and marriage advice during the past three days more than any other story reminds me of the tale about survivors of harrowing experiences, like war, who–more than anything else including the trauma itself–talk about the person they were crushing on or the one who got away during these times of stress. Ah, love.

Read the full article here.

Search Your Love's "Choose a Husband"
Whatever they tell, men marry. Men marry young, marry late in life, marry for the second and the third time. Nowadays it is rather difficult to find a real “never-marry” man. However, each has his own reason and motives to lead her down the aisle. Let us try to divide men into 8 categories, based on the reasons for making marriage proposal.

Read the 8 categories here.

Happy reading!

An Ironic Twist of Fate

U.S. Deportee Brings Street Dance to Street Boys of Cambodia

Tuy Sobil, or K.K., a former gang member from Long Beach, Calif., founded the club after being deported in 2004.

While this is an old article from November 2008, it's relevance remains. Nothing is more exciting than to read about someone who could have fallen by the wayside, but chooses to give back rather than give up.

It may be the only place in Cambodia where the children are nicknamed Homey, Frog, Floater, Fresh, Bugs and Diamond.

And there are not many places like this small courtyard, thumping with the beat of a boom box, where dozens of boys in big T-shirts are spinning on their heads and doing one-hand hops, elbow tracks, flairs, halos, air tracks and windmills. And, of course, krumping.
It is a little slice of Long Beach, Calif., brought here by a former gang member . . .

Read the rest of the article here.