Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another amazing organization in Siem Reap

I was first introduced to the young man who helps run the Khmer for Khmer Organization (KFKO) through a CouchSurfing contact. After arranging a meeting with Sokha, he introduced me to another friend from France, Raphael, who was helping out, too. I ended up making a plan to ride our bikes out to visit the village where KFKO does their work.

KFKO is truly doing what it's name implies. Cambodians are helping Cambodians. The young volunteers are using their own money, in addition to the occasional donations, to fund four major projects within the village.

KFKO focuses on Early Childhood Education, Nutrition for Mothers & Children, a Handicrafts project for HIV-positive women and an Agricultural project for growing vegetables to help out the nutrition program and villagers who participate.

Only founded in November 2010, these young folks have big dreams for this village.


Thank you to Mom Most Traveled, Can Can, for providing this recipe. I look forward to trying this out with a few modifications for here in Cambodia, such as substituting soy milk for rice milk, using regular oil, and adding bananas instead of blueberries and walnuts.


Wet Ingredients (have at room temperature):
2 eggs
1/4 cup rice milk
2 Tbsp oil (walnut, almond, grapeseed or corn)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Dry Ingredients (have at room temperature):
3/4 cup rice flour (or 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/4 cup corn flour)
3/4 tsp non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 Tbsp oil for frying (coconut or corn)
1/8-1/4 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
1/8 cup walnuts (optional)


Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. Be sure to have the griddle heating to a medium temperature. Blend in blueberries and walnuts if used. Makes about 5 five inch cakes. Smother in maple syrup.

If using fruit in the batter, covering the cakes when cooking helps ensure they will be done throughout. A little more baking powder makes for thicker, fluffier cakes, and a little less makes thinner more dense cakes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Compassion in action

My first week of travels back to Southeast Asia in early December 2010, took me to Thailand. I spent a couple of days in Bangkok before heading up to Chiang Mai that would serve as my base for a 1-day visit to the north in Fang to visit the Compassion child I sponsor: Jairak Ja-U.
Our 1st meeting. Me holding the traditional bag his mother made for me.

I really didn't know what to expect since I had only just started sponsoring Jairak Ja-U a couple of months prior. The two other children I was sponsoring had both dropped out of the program within a month of each other, and Jairak was the recommended boy to replace them.

He couldn't have been a better match!

Posing in front of the "Christmas flowers" (Poinsettias).

The shyness was very evident, yet understandable. We exchanged gifts and asked a few questions (translated, of course) before getting a tour of the hostel where he is living. He seemed very happy to have met me. It was very special since many children don't ever get to meet their sponsors except through letters and photographs.

I think the best part of the trip was going to his high school to see his classroom and his best friends. It was a pleasure to be able to meet them and pray together before saying good bye.
Standing with his school mates & friends.

I will cherish that day, despite feeling a little under the weather in the morning. It was so adorable when we said goodbye as Jairak called out, "Good bye. See you tomorrow!" in English.

Visiting the local hot springs in our matching hats (which we both like to wear).

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I'm an ideas person, for the most part. But, I'm also a doer, but more in the sense of a "following orders" kind of way, rather than a "rally the troops" leader. I have a really hard time transforming my ideas into action.

But I have these grand ideas!

What am I missing? Am I my own stumbling block?

More than likely, yes. I like to think that I'm missing a team. I need my go-to person who can put wheels to my ideas.

I can organize, coordinate, plan, create, you name it, but when it comes to taking it one step beyond I stumble.

I've got lots of knowledge of how to do things, and am very capable at doing A LOT of different things, yet I feel somewhat stuck.

Maybe I need one of those Life Coaches...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some Amazing Activities in Siem Reap, Cambodia

In the short time that I've been back, I have encountered or read about a few incredible organizations that are doing amazing stuff. They're working on projects that inspire me!

Check 'em out!
We are MaD Cambodia – a registered Cambodian Charity/NGO working to make a difference for good in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Working in partnership with rural Cambodian communities, our aim is to empower individuals, families and villages with the knowledge and resources they need to build themselves a sustainable future free from poverty. Through our Rural Community Development and Children’s Welfare Programs, we offer Cambodian communities assistance in areas such as water, sanitation, housing, construction, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, childcare, orphan care and education.

MaD is a Cambodian charity/NGO – 100% non profit – set up to help the Cambodian people. If you are visiting Siem Reap City, Cambodia and would like to have a meal with us at Me - Cambodia's first donation only restaurant or learn more about our charity, projects or donating, then please contact us.

At PEPY, we want to live in a world where everyone has access to quality education, increased health and environmental awareness. Through our programs in Cambodia, we are committed to making improvements in education, the environment, and health by investing in a local team of dedicated leaders and connecting them with the tools to help deliver the changes they want to see in the world.

If you too believe that education is the key to change in the world, why don't you join us!

PEPY's mission is to aid rural communities in improving their own standards of living, with a focus on increased access to quality education. Through our partner government schools, and our informal education initiatives, PEPY is supporting education for over 1,700 families in 12 villages and 6 schools in rural Siem Reap. We believe that education is the key to sustainable change, and are committed to a holistic developmental approach which empowers children, parents, teachers, and communities to make the positive changes they want to see in their lives.

To find out more about PEPY and what we do, read the "What is PEPY?" section of our site.

PEPY is a non-governmental organization registered in both the US and Cambodia.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year, New Wheels

Ready to hit the roads and kick up some dust.

New Year 2011! I started with a bicycle and have upgraded.

I've entered the world of two-wheeled motoring by purchasing the above motorbike. It's a Honda Super Cub with a 70 or 90cc size engine. It came newly painted in the bright orange and green colors, along with the red mirrors. The shop owner put on the front basket, which I use all the time! The bike is a kick-start, and needs some time to warm up in the morning or after it's been sitting.

I bought it on a Monday out of necessity to get to the school where I teach, which is quite far down the road (about 5km or more) to ride a bicycle in the hot sun. Plus some nights I have to get to my volunteer job within 3o minutes during rush hour, so a bicycle wouldn't do, nor would hiring a driver.

Then Thursday started with a flat tire that required a complete inner tube change, and the fun didn't end there. I arrived late to work, and as soon as I pulled into the driveway, my front wheel seized up. Ack! Thankfully I wasn't in the middle of traffic. Some folks from the school helped take care of my bike while I went to my class.

She's a beauty! All I can think of is mangoes when I see it.

But, it didn't end there...When trying to leave school, my front wheel did the same thing. So we packed it up in a tuk tuk and took it back the shop. It was closed, but fortunately one of the guys was still there and he was able to come out and work on my wheel again. Back to the road.

I went out to dinner to relax from the long day and on the way home while trying to stop to buy some fruit, my wheel seized for a third time! What is going on!?! I tried calling anyone I knew who might be able to bring a tuk tuk to haul my bike back home again. I was only minutes from my house. Thankfully one of the drivers from the guesthouse of the organization I volunteer for was able to come and he managed to help find a way to get it moving again.

I limped home and went to bed. I wouldn't drive my motorbike on Friday. I left a note for Da to inform him of what happened and what time I finished school that day. Thankfully he got it and was there to pick me up from school. Because I had forgotten to leave the key, he didn't have a chance to check out the bike until I got home.

Da checked out the bike and gave it his seal of approval, so I drove it, though nervously. His diagnosis: don't use the front handbrake. I ended up taking it back to the shop on Saturday to have it checked out. Plus, the headlight had gone out on Thursday night and I didn't want to keep driving at night without a headlight.

Now I'm back on two motorized wheels again. All's well with the motorbike. It hums along just fine. The front handbrake works, though I'm not eager to use it. It's all in the right foot, folks!

My dad would have loved this little "scooter" with its round tail lights, his favorite style.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

My first lunch box was a metal Peanuts lunch box. I loved that lunch box. I have fond memories of Charlie Brown and the Gang. Despite having over-sized heads and honking grown-ups that you never saw, these kids had