That’s my desk in Siem Reap on my first day at the Ponheary Ly Foundation September 3. I dove in headfirst, riding my bike around town my first morning to find the best internet provider for one of our rural schools.
If all goes well, this will be the first of our schools to get internet. We still have to secure funding for it, so on my first day I also wrote a proposal for the project to a couple potential donors in Germany.
I spent the rest of my first week doing a variety of things including:
— Meeting with my new boss Lori to learn about our budgets and money systems
— Learning about what my role might be with our board (all the board members live in the U.S. So we do our meetings by Skype conference)
— Meeting with Lori about all the ins and outs of PLF’s volunteer program so that I can take the reins of it in the coming weeks
— Going with our team to paint classrooms in one of our rural schools
— Getting a grasp on our social media outlets
— Buying supplies and organizing textbooks for volunteers who arrive in a few weeks
— Witnessing a boy who came to our office running from his abusive family. He had nowhere to go (no friends, no extended family) and was asking us to find a place for him to live. This is the first time I’ve been confronted with this sort of situation and I was expected to join in the solution process. Luckily, Lori and Ponheary found a place for him to live at a school, but for a lot of detailed reasons, it took us making phone calls, visiting friends, and digging.
I ended up at work ten to 11 hours everyday and this will probably continue. I’ll be working Sunday through Friday. I’ll be off on Saturdays. I’m sure it’ll feel like an intense schedule at times, but I’m really enjoying being busy right now. It’s a nice change of pace from the past few months.
It’s easy for me to be inspired by what’s going on at PLF. Everyone in the office works hard because this work is an important part of who they are. It’s their passion to give Cambodia’s poorest kids, who’d normally be working on farms everyday, access to public schools so that someday they can help change this country’s culture of corruption.
A lot of the people I interact with daily at the office survived the Khmer Rouge genocide and had family members who were killed. Their jobs are a way of trying to reconcile with what happened to them.
I have a lot (I mean A LOT) to learn from my new bosses and coworkers, all of which are often getting their hands dirty at our sites.
My new bosses at one of our sites in Preah Vihear:
Here are some pics from my first week.
Rany, Field Director:
Farida, Field Director:
Gill, Program Manager:
Mango picking in front of the PLF office:
The morning welcome crew in front of the office:
Lori brought cable and a TV into the office specially so we could take a morning break and watch President Obama, live at the Democratic National Convention on CNN.
(Side note: Because the 2012 Republican Platform is so Tea Party-extreme and not supportive of things I care deeply about—charitable giving, foreign aid, teachers, students, the middle class, U.S. immigrants, reasonable military spending, and important civil rights issues—I’m with Obama.)
Running errands around Siem Reap in a PLF tuk-tuk: