“I travel to stay awake; to live the real world, to emerge from the rich little bubble I live in and leave the vacuous life behind. I go to meet the real people on the streets; the sex workers; the struggling parents in rural villages, kids who are orphaned by war and disease, students at tiny mud brick schools. My hero is not found on magazine covers or movie screens, he is a gorgeous man who walks the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia, selling books – his arms blown off by a landmine. He refuses to be a beggar, because he is a fighter. I go to see him and hangout and make sure he is doing ok. I give him some money to buy his family breakfast, since the government will no longer help. In exchange, he tells me proud stories of his kids’ achievements – his smiles are enough for me!
My favorite place to be is in a particular little village of poverty, where life is a struggle, and the people are grateful for work and any education they can receive. They want to invite you into their homes and share the little amount they have with you. Their smiles are wider than the world itself and they are shy and unassuming – but they are genuine, because in Cambodia the genocide is over and they are learning to survive each day.
These are the people I want to help. The ones I like to be around. The ones that work to help themselves and do not squander what you give them. And the least I can do is give them my blood and give them my time. I travel to Cambodia’s blood transfusion centres twice a year to donate, knowing that one donation can save three lives. That one donation takes only a few minutes from your day, but the gratitude lasts a lifetime. There are no handouts, no charity boxes that the community never sees and no encouragement of kids skipping school to beg; it is just life in its purest form.
Giving blood is also a chance to spend time with the nurses; something you would never do on a regular organized tour. I ask questions and take notes. I find out what really goes on and just how desperate life is. Then, I come back home and I tell their stories. I try to help others to understand that life on the other side is desperate, and the disparity our rich life creates is setting the world further and further backwards.
But I am just a girl, just another number, and I happen to live in a part of the world where we are spoiled with money, clean air, fresh running water, mindless shiny objects and perfect-looking people. However, I know that my society does not know gratitude. We have so much, that we never have enough. The world needs to change, and I am determined to be part of the change.”
~Amanda L. (Australia)0