Every time we come to Cambodia we unpeal another layer and understand a bit more. This morning we met with Ann Hall of Resource Development International (RDI.org) and instead of a layer – I think we diced up the whole onion! We learned more about culture, mindset, healthcare, corruption, family dynamics, the language, prostitution, infidelity, etc.
I’m going to just list for you some things we did not know before and are critical for shaping how we work in Cambodia – and honestly I think we’ve uncovered another root cause. What I find fascinating is as we work in the US and Cambodia we have felt we need to address different roots. But I’ve just discovered at the heart of it all is one critical root! The role of the father.
1. We have always been so impressed with the sweet, joyful Cambodian people but the reality is that’s how they treat us and they are nasty to each other.
2. Anti-ethics are taught from a young age. Men teach their sons to do whatever it takes to get what they want. Doesn’t matter who you hurt.
3. The Khmer language is very simple so their are not words to express deep emotion. Makes it more culturally difficult to express compassion, love, grace, mercy, etc.
4. The oldest daughter has the role of providing for the family but she is not allowed to pursue higher education, which leaves prostitution as a common option.
5. Men are a major problem in Cambodia. They work odd jobs and use money to buy alcohol and cigarettes. Their wives keep money on the side for kids school and medical needs.
6. Men have multiple wives, often leaving one family for a younger wife. They do not show deep emotion to children or wives.
7. Individual thought is foreign. Buda teaches a fatalistic attitude. Problematic for acceptance of faith, striving for change, education, good jobs.
I’m going to stop there and let you stew on this. The good news is God has already been inspiring change in FP that addresses these new issues. We are amazed at what we have learned and how God is equipping us to respond. This has been a major breakthrough for us!
We are now off to Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. So internet will be spotty until we reach Poipet. Be in touch soon.