Not that things are slow here at EcoMedia, in fact quite the opposite. Big things are brewing but they’re still on the DL. I thought I’d go a different direction with this post and talk about the Marshall trip we took to Cambodia to help out an NGO.
If I had to pick three adjectives to describe Cambodia, they would be, hot, humid, and heartbreaking. A group of eight Marshall 2012 MBA’s, Alex O, Nick H, Rebecca J, Brandon L, Shank (the Tank), Ryan J, and SBL Fellow Kevin F, joined our Professor, Joseph Nunes, on a trip to Cambodia following PRIME to help out with RiverKids. They work to prevent child trafficking in some of the most high risk areas in the world (‘Like’ them on Facebook to see updates on an awesome undercover effort to curb prostitution and human trafficking).
Upon landing we were greeted with torrential downpour and flooded streets, apparently it was just another evening in Phnom Penh. The next morning we jumped right into an advocacy tour, which took us to the worst of the slums, be it the riverside shanty town with rotting wood foundations or the five story high “projects” where many prostitutes live out of subjection. The heartbreak far exceeded the heat and humidity that day. No matter where we were though the children were filled with excitement to see foreigners amongst them. They’d flash us the Fight On sign (formerly known as the peace sign) and never hesitate to tell us “hello” at least a dozen times.
The following day was our first full one with the children of Riverkids. Virtually all come from families that are unstable due to addiction, divorce, abuse, and extreme poverty, leaving them at especially high risk to be trafficked. Our theme for the volunteer trip was photography, we raised enough money and donated cameras from fellow marshallites to take about 15 there with us. Our agenda was the following:
Photo Scavenger Hunt - We took them all around the city, luxury style, chauffered by our personal tuk-tuk drivers (these are open air carriages pulled by sub-150cc motorcyles). The kids had to find some tough items and take photos, stuff like ‘something wet but not water’ or ‘something green that rolls.’ We then compiled our picks of the best in terms of creativity, uniqueness, color, and other photography metrics and had the children select winners. We gave them random prizes we got from the grocery store the day before.
Photo Puzzles - This was more fun than I thought… for us and them. We printed photos of their’s ranging from simple or no geometric properties to a complex ones, pasted the photos to foam-boards and cut them into square pieced puzzles. They loved putting the puzzles together and some were really difficult. They liked it so much they asked us to make more and the following day we were far more efficient with our process; we had Georgia Tech and MIT educated foam board cutters who measured the cuts down to the exact millimeter. It was hectic doing so many things at once in that little 100 degree room.
What’s that photo - This was another cool one, we took close ups of different objects in the center and also nearby outside. We asked them to try and figure out what the photos were taken of for a prize. Plenty of cheating went on here but it was all in good fun.
All in all we may not have had the monumental impact we were hoping for but simply making the center a more fun place for the kids will help in keeping them interested and coming back rather than on the streets with nothing to do. We really thank everyone who donated cameras or money. They were so happy to have all those cameras and promised us they’ll keep teaching the kids about photography and taking them out to take pictures. We were happy to help and also gain a better understanding of how tough it is out there. We certainly appreciate what we have more now.