And My Heart Broke Wide Open

My heart completely opened today. I jumped back in with the 2 year olds to give them some consistency and also to step up to what I was feeling like a challenge. Today improved from yesterday as I implemented what I like to call “creative expansion time.” At least that is what I called in my head to get them doing something constructive rather than just playing with toys in such an unstructured schedule. This was time for us to color on paper and to start learning some motor skills on how to hold the crayon and draw circles and get acquainted with colors. They seemed to really enjoy it and were very expressive to me on what they were drawing. Other than creating this piece of structure, I decided to be open to just loving the kids and being there for them. Without saying a word we all new we were there for each other today and they opened up to many hugs and cuddles… heart broke open.

As my day with them came to a close, I knew by helping take them home I was about to open up to something I wasn’t sure I was prepared to see. And I wasn’t. Throughout the last 2 days, I was having many complaints about the day care system and about he bathroom manners these kids were displaying, all of these thoughts got pushed aside by actually visiting where they lived.

As I was sitting with 35 kids in a van with 4 volunteers and a staff member…..let me back up, yes I said VAN…..with kids sitting on laps and on the floor in Phenom Penh traffic in 100 degree heat with no AC, I knew that as we drove to the dump that my sweat and uncomfortableness was nothing to complain about compared to how some other people have to live (or survive) in this world. As my eyes filled with tears as we pulled up to the village, I had nothing in this world to complain about.

You could not call these homes, more like shanti huts with 3-4 walls on a wooden slab that is their floor. Some have just 3 walls and one wall is the open air. There is no running water or anything that resembles a bathroom facility, thus it is understandable that they are unfamiliar with the bathroom process and how to use such facilities. More so, it is amazing to see all the children that are there and how they all live in one room with their families. I was overwhelmed.

As we dropped them off I couldn’t help but notice the dump in the background. The dump that is their backyard, most likely their playground and even a source of food and resources to live. What impacted me the most were their smiles and cheerfulness as we dropped them off. They waved goodbye with a smile and happily reunited with their family and community. I on the other faked a smile as I waved goodbye, driving off in my comfortable van headed back to a life with all the niceties. My heart broke wide open but full of sadness. I was silent on the way home……

A new section I would like to call, The Lighter Side Of Things:

1. Garnett is teaching English to 4-6 year olds. A task that Garnett was not expecting but is stepping up to the plate nicely. One of his kids arrived today with a t-shirt that says….”Mc Shit.” It was hilarious because, of course, the kid has no idea what it means and probably neither does anyone else but it has the McDonalds logo just replaced by the word “shit”. We died laughing.

2. Tomorrow I have thought about introducing some music, to get the kids moving. I am thinking a little “Gangnum Style.” Wish me luck. Hopefully they will love the song as much as I do!

3 thoughts on “And My Heart Broke Wide Open

  1. Kathy,

    I am glad you got to see how hard lives cold be in the third world. I recalled the first time arriving in NZ, I was a bit upset why people here complaint about everything… sometimes they are not aware how lucky they are to be living in such a paradise like NZ…

    I am looking forward to reading more of your journey… I am learning from your journal too


  2. Hi J! I hope all is well. I was just thinking the same thing about NZ today. We are lucky to have such clean water and air. Not to mention all the peaceful space. I guess it is easy to take for granted. I link forward to visiting your country soon. I hear wonderful things. Many hugs!


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