Sunday, 14 June 2015

If pigs could fly........

'If we can regard others' happiness as our own, then ours will be the richest and most satisfying life.......' 

How many people can say that they have been part of the negotiations of the purchase of pigs? Well I can tell you that it was a humorous and respectful affair, here in a village 20km out of Siem Reap.

Today I had the honor of spending the morning with Da, who so kindly invited us to share in his milestone of purchasing pigs for a business plan he has constructed and of which will fund his vision to own his own business in the future.

We all piled into Chris' army jeep, which I have come to adore...yes adore and headed out to Da's village.

Upon arrival in the village we were swept away by the array of colour and bustle of activity. Women sprawled out on the ground scaling and gutting fish, an assortment of both familiar and foreign foods, fruits and vegies of all colours, shapes and sizes and there in a stall tucked away was Da's mum, sitting so elegantly behind her sewing machine. Her livelihood is dependent on sewing garments and making alterations.

At first glance, I was taken a back. Da's mum was not what I expected her to be. At 50 years of age, she looked more like a 30 year old, with soft flawless skin and no evidence of wrinkles. Her hair was elegantly pulled back and she sat behind her machine with poise worthy of a princess. She stood up with an air of confidence and wisdom, there was no sign of the hardships she faces, a woman who is a widow, bringing up 3 boys. It was a pleasure to have made her acquaintance, a humble and modest woman.

Today's outing involved us all going on an 'adventure' to purchase pigs for Da. Part of the money raised from the KICK fundraiser, will be used to give Da a micro loan for the pigs. As soon as he sells a few, he will begin to invest the money to pay the remainder of the loan off their home and then eventually to start his own business. He will also be committed to paying back the loan so that it can then be given to another  enthusiastic entrepreneur. He is also committed to going back to his home village and starting up a business there, whereby the community would benefit from and one that would provide educational opportunities for the people who live there. Hearing Da speak about his 'dream' with such passion and conviction brings tears to my eyes. This young man is by no means selfish and all he can think about is becoming successful so that he could then give back to his village and family. Such motivation, so selfless and so humble.

The pig negotiations were a privilege to be part of. All negotiation was carried out by the women, with a couple of phone calls to the seller's husband to confer. Chris and I took a back seat approached, remaining serious but chuckling at the scene before us, all at the same time.
Negotians proceeded. another phone call, pause......some idle chatter....calm respectful voices....more chatter...more waiting....another phone call...finally....SOLD!!

Finally the deal was done, sealed and pigs to be delivered at a later date after they have been vaccinated. Of course Da was jubilant and his smile would have lightened up any dark room. His was over joyed and couldn't stop hugging us. Of course all of the way home Da was as proud as punch and we couldn't wipe the grin or the joy from his face. Again a tear jerking moment.
Here is a perfect example of a young man, from a poor village, determined to be successful and more determined to make positive changes to  the lives of others in his village. Who would have thought 5 piglets could have brought so much joy to the hearts of all of us that ordinary Saturday in June, well not so ordinary now.

Well it doesn't stop there folks. I hadn't had time to dry my eyes and I was soon in tears once again.

On our way back from buying the pigs we stopped to visit another inspiring local. Sohing is a young woman of 28 years old. She lives down the road from Da in the same village and they are very very close friends. This woman is petite and shy yet she is solid and determined. She is too proud to ask for support or financial support and prefers to try and get things done by herself, at a cost to herself.

Sohing is a remarkable role model for any woman, well any person for that matter. Again Sohing comes from a poor family, she hasn't had any formal tertiary education and she knows first hand what it's like to do it tough. However, despite her own family's struggles she has decided to shoulder those of the community.

6 months ago Sohing started a small school for the children in her village to learn english so that they would have a chance of a brighter future. Her house is built on stilts so she used the space under the house as a make shift classroom. Barb and Chris heard of her plight and invested funds from the KICK fundraiser to purchase a whiteboard and 4 desks. Today we visited her and 6 months later her classroom is now home to 15 or so children. Not only is Sohing educating these children she has also built a community of enthusiastic children who have the confidence and spirit to aspire to whatever their dreams maybe.

It was Saturday when we visited, and to our delight most of the children were present at the home. Not for class or to learn but to just 'hang out' with eachother. It was evident Sohing had built a community where children feel loved, safe and accepted. A place where they are free to play, be social or just to lay back and enjoy eachother's company.

This spirited woman, with a zest to achieve, was also an entrepreneur and she too was building a pig pen in the hope of investing in the business of pig breeding which would become one way to fund her school. Sohing has a dream to build 2 classrooms on her land so that she can have 2 functioning classrooms for the children in the village. She also hopes to go to Uni and graduate to become a teacher. For now she works tirelessly at her full time job, taking care of her family and running her school.

We always look towards sports heroes, celebrities, politicians etc as role models to inspire and evoke change but these unsung heroes are the role models worth getting to know .......I dare you too because if you make the effort, I can guarantee that your heart will be brimming with emotion, gratitude, humbleness and awe..................I am honored to have met them and to be part of their lives, to journey alongside them as they conquer the challenges faced to making their dreams a reality.
My life is so much fuller for doing so.

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