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Mami’s Reflections on her UNION experience, Cambodia

I am very glad that I got to go on the Cambodia UNION Study Tour before graduating university because I got to see how support is done in developing countries; something I have thought about for a long time. I used to think that with support, a country could become more developed and advanced, but as that happened, new problems would simply arise. Thinking about that, I used to wonder, is development even a good idea? When I went and saw what is actually happening, the people who are receiving support didn’t formerly have support for work, there were people who couldn’t even go to a hospital when they got sick, and people who did not even have the ability to get the minimal things needed for living. When we visited families, I was shocked to see all the insects around the large, water collection jars. Families collected rain water for drinking. Every day, there are children who can’t go to school and instead have to stay at home and work. They have no dreams for the future because they have to work desperately just to live day to day. During my time in Cambodia, I came to realize that through this support, farming villages are not developing into towns overnight. Instead, people are gaining self-reliance which opens to the doors to many more options they can chose to take.

For people who had already received a well, each person had chosen their own path. The paths they chose were different from each other and showed creative thinking and hard work. These people all smiled so beautifully. I will never forget the old woman who greeted me many times saying ‘sohk sabaay’ (roughly, ‘how are you?’). In one of the families we visited that has a well, there was a girl who could count in English. She looked a bit older now but she had not been able to go to school since first grade – which is when she learned to count in English. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if she had been able to continue her education. What would she have learned? Who would she have become?

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