Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cambodia, Day 19

This morning, we threw a party for the girls at Agape Restoration House. We set up stations, including a photo booth, a visor-decorating station, a coloring and drawing station, a games station, and a blind taste test station. The girls sang and danced for us, and we did "I can count on God" for them. We had lunch with them, including fried chicken and corn on the cob, and birthday cake for all the girls and staff whose birthdays fell in May. Again, as with Rapha's house, this was a place for our female members to take the lead while the men hung back unless approached by a girl. A few of the girls lured me into photo booth pictures, but otherwise I got to watch the fun, which is actually more enjoyable when the cultural gap is this wide.

One nice moment for me: the older girls did a traditional Khmer dance of blessing, which included a lot of practiced steps and hand gestures, but near the end they threw small flowers at us by the handful. I looked around for one with a long stem, and I tucked it into my goatee at about the midpoint. Immediately after that dance, they asked all of us up on stage to introduce ourselves, and when I told them my name, they all spotted the flower and got a good laugh out of it. It wasn't a calculated bid for attention; more absent-minded  than anything else, but it did break some of the ice, which I was pleased to see.

In the afternoon, we went to Bloom Cafe, which is where at least some of the women wind up after they complete the ARH program. As with Blossom back in Siem Reap, the cakes they had on display were mind-blowingly intricate. We  strolled down the street to Monument Books, and I thumbed through a Khmer language course that I plan to get on Amazon when I return home. (I'm all for putting hard currency into the Cambodian economy, but fifty dollars was a bit much, and I have to guard my shrinking supply of cash pretty fiercely.)

Tomorrow, we have church at Rahab's House, immediately followed by our big debrief with the Rahab's House staff, which likely will include some wrenching goodbyes. We've become very fond of a lot of these folks in just the few days we've worked together. Then, over lunch, we'll do our own team debrief, and then everyone else will go to watch the Cambodian national soccer team play a local club, while I hole up in my room and read something.

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