Friday, January 14, 2011

Bob's Trip Continued (January 13th and 14th)

Thursday January 13th SRC

Cease fretting, no more hand wringing… your favorite adventurer has full vanquished the evil King and has enjoyed two meals already… not too challenging but back to Little India for lunch!!

Today was a very important day as it marked the real launch of Water for Cambodia as a functioning organization. We convened the first meeting of the Board of Directors. The first official action was electing the officers. Leading up to this; however, there was much discussion of the nature of different types of boards, the philosophy of paid employees vs. all volunteer or independent members and the number we should end up with, at least in the short run. It is clear that there has been considerable thought put into this. It has been important to consider the long awaited on maybe dreaded national NGO law. It has been imminent since about 2004 but like separation of powers in Rhode Island will likely take a seismic event to actually get it in-place then a good deal of wrestling to actually get the 3000or so NGOs to reregister and comply. After electing officers we covered the need for some basic policies, an agreed to organization chart, generally how accounting and budgeting will work and finally the time for the next meeting.  Before then they will consider identifying a third Khmer board member to meet the requirements of the maybe some day NGO law… just trying to stay ahead of the turtles!!

Another truckload of filters pulled out for Chi Kreng… this really looks like a factory!! It was a bit unsettling though to watch the truck loading crew heft 160 lb concrete filter bodies onto the truck barefooted!! OSHA where are you??

Off to Dan Run in the afternoon to see the product of the Singapore funded work. So far we have made about 500 families very happy. Sathya and I went on diarrhea patrol and found all was high and dry. Ea mother we interviewed had little children and reported a dramatic reduction in some previously crappy situations. They like the taste and each area was very squared away. We stopped at the local health center where we have one also… maybe Sathya should have avoided this one… he really took a beating from the grandmother dispenser of medicines and opinions. I didn’t need to understand the words to get the drift… she waned a filter and wasn’t taking any scheduling pretext or timing weasel wording as an explanation for having to wait until we build the next SIF build block. He almost got away by focusing on some other silly but related matter… clever ploy… total failure… I’m only marginally aware of his final promise but his wife may be scheduled to find her filter missing!!! Grandmothers are really tough here in the sunny jungles and rice fields… about like the water buffalos.

As the sun begins to set over Thailand you might wonder if I plan to let you in on the new organization… I think I will let you hang in suspense.

Until tomorrow then.

Friday January 14th SRC

Road trip!!

Left for Battambang this morning to check the December installations… good chance to get beyond SR for a day also. After getting beyond 8 or 19 km west on NR6 the world of Cambodia changed to prairie like vistas across thousands of acre of rice fields and many small rivers and low wetland that feed the fields. But once we entered the town of Banteay Meanchey and headed SE toward Battambang we time warped back to post war/pre tourist Cambodia and entered a land of few cars and hundreds of bicycles, old motos and mechanical oxcarts loaded with everything you can imagine.

It is the season of celebrating fertility… the lotus are in flower and today was the special wedding feast for no less than 20 brides whose dazzling gold and blue, green and saffron orange betasseled wedding tents lined the roadway. We heard the signature bell and cymbal like sounds long before we saw the color… but it was unmistakably a sign of Khmer fruitfulness. The rice has been harvested… rice to the left rice to the right, ahead and behind… a bag on a motos and 20 on a tow trailer or hundreds of 100kg bags stacked over the sides on brawny, blunt-nosed blue Hyundai work trucks all going to feed someone. Best of all were the golden carpets of fine gravel like spreads along the road drying in the near equatorial sun… people will eat this year.

Battambang is a moderately large city straddling a really nasty looking river… number two in the country and capitol of the rice basket and home to a whole heap of bananas. Busy, crowded, Cambodian style out of control traffic set amidst streets of retained French colonial architecture. The western and moneyed Asia tourists haven’t left Siem Reap yet. Also as we venture east towards our destination, I was taken by the many flowers gracing nearly every shop or home along the lush lanes and little pathways. This indeed this is the season of fecundity here.

Visited two homes, both relatives of Molly’s and one the home of Leaheng. Unfortunately her sister attended an infamous gathering and remembered my distress… why couldn’t she have remembered my elegant and stylish Khmer dancing and hand movements??? Oh well, better to be remembered for something than lost among the banana trees.

Our visit was timely as two of the filters were flowing too slowly and Sathya was able to instruct and demonstrate how to maintain them when this inevitably happen from silting… a quick easy and effective method. Last stop was the local pagoda were even the monks are drinking… pronouncing it good!!

We did learn something interesting about “Clean Water” the group that filters and provide returnable 20 liter bottles of drinking water (the local water version of Blue Rhino). Their water is mildly cloudy… pointed out to us by he women responsible for the orphans living at he pagoda. They definitely favor the product produced from the BSF.

Lunch and a beer and back on the road… I had the beer and barely stayed awake driving back… good to be able to trust the pilot!!

Now to the answer some of you loyal readers have been awaiting. Our Board chair is Mieko… deputy is Sahkem… and Sathya is the secretary. By the way thanks for voting with the majority Nicole… we saw you raise your hand to make it unanimous.

Tomorrow I get to enjoy one of the very cool Cambodian weddings first had… those Khmer dancing lessons will surely help me look really good!!!

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