In early September, I received an email from Pol Pean, the founder of Working for Children Rainbow Orphanage in Siem Reap. The subject line of the email was “Volunteer in Cambodia.” How he came upon my MCMC Fragrances email address, I don’t know. I starred the email.
As the impetus for reigniting the Humanity Fragrance project begin to crystallize, there were several volunteer locations I considered. Haiti, rocked by the earthquake in 2010, when José and I were just over in the neighboring country of the Dominican Republic, certainly still could use the help of volunteers. The small Indonesian island of Bali which has a natural birthing center for low-income mothers interested me. And then there was Cambodia. Angkor Wat, with it’s peaceful tree faces, has always called my name. Was this my opportunity to visit, and to visit with a cause?
Turns out, Cambodia has the highest concentration of NGOs of any country in the world. Devasted by the reign of the Khmer Rouge following the Vietnam War, the country has suffered a lot of hardships and as a result, many organizations are in-country offering a range of services from rehabilitating children living on the streets, to freeing women captured for prostitution, and helping those who have suffered from land mines. With 50% of the population under the age of 22, there are also orphanages in every region.
More and more, my heart felt like Cambodia was the right place for the next installment of the Humanity Fragrance. Where else could I dive so deeply into the question of what compassion is? I have only heard good things about how kind people are there, and with Theravada Buddhism as the official religion, I can only imagine what I may feel, see and experience.
So that starred email came in handy. After a bit of back and forth with Mr. Pean, we have confirmed our volunteer dates, beginning March 25th. We will be volunteering at the Rainbow Orphanage teaching English to the thirty-six resident kiddos, hopefully helping on a building project, and doing some farming as well.