I never volunteered before. I somehow had the mindset of ‘What am I going to gain from this?’. I am pretty much obvious with my question. Money. Monetary gain. Doing pro bono for people I barely know was one step I took out of my comfort zone. I sounded despicable with that. Often times, doing things because I want to, are results of me knowing a person well and expecting for a return for such gesture isn’t part of the intent.
Coming to Cambodia for work opportunities was the biggest step I’ve done so far. Volunteering included, was something else. At first, I was hesitant because I thought, it wouldn’t do me any good. But I sucked it all in. There is a long list of doubtful contemplations I wouldn’t risk of putting in reality. Then again, I wouldn’t experience and learn from mere idealism. I am glad I did it.
The event was creatively coined over barrels of beer and tons of weed. Kidding. It was after a spoon. Slaprea, in Khmer language, meaning spoon. I found it odd at first but after reading for clarity, it was the biggest food festival in Phnom Penh. But it wasn’t just a food festival. It was a hallelujah-food with a hidden agenda of helping mother earth. Coincidentally, this event was organized by a firm which I will conceal under the name, “The Idea”. I consider it a coincidence for a reason that I am friends-ish with the hairstylist of the firm. He asked me over a haircut, if I wanted to volunteer for this up coming let’s-gain-some-weight food lovers affair. I thought about it for about 20 seconds or less. Then eventually, after 10 light years, I said to myself, ‘go for it bitch, you’re not gonna die’. Finally, after 16 life times of rigid training and briefing for that weekend, I got myself a black t-shirt with an adorable flying spoon as a logo. Also, a wonderful purpose of lending a hand to their study of solving the waste issues in Cambodia.
Being a volunteer in a foreign land slapped me with constraints. One was communication. I acquired a minimal knowledge of the language. Hence, I can only help out with some activities that wouldn’t require too much saliva. Well, I could have done the talking if I were able to. Ironically, I got designated to the info booth and transportation section, where I somehow needed to interact with the bus drivers with my lame khmer linguistic skills. Second was my patience. Which I needed to extend for 23 earth orbits and; third was my tendency of uttering sarcastic remarks to the kids I worked with. Needless to say, I think, I am the oldest in the group of volunteers, who has a full time job. Honestly, I just wanted the event to go smoothly without too much hassle of directing people to what they should be doing.
Setting aside my negativities, the entire experience was incredibly worth while and fantastic. I got to meet a diverse set of people. I saw a whole new picture where my eyes feasted deliberately. It was a wide eyed observation of the occurance. As for my observations, that is a different story. Somehow, I took notice on a few people who worked at The Idea. I know you guys will read this eventually. First was the gorgeous sphere of energy who led the bus team in her french accent. How I admire her, bouncing around with unfaltered enthusiasm. Second was the hard-to-the-bones-working young lady, who I chatted with in facebook. She has some dark humor. Regardeless of that humor, which I am serious about, she deserves a medal or a raise for all her limitless efforts. Third was the hairstylist who was undeniably grace under pressure, under frustration, under disappointment, under exhaustion, not to mention the switching of outfits when the big guys arrived. Well done! Keep up the good work. By the way, I didn’t mention your office is a candy shop for my eyes. Lol.
Now, in my own perspective, volunteering is time consuming and would demand undivided attention. However, if your purpose for volunteering hits your head of interest, it will be fulfilling and rewarding. The tedious goal that was achieved will make you satisfied. It will make you wonder, ‘Wow, I did that?’. I was proud of myself.
All through out that weekend of activities, sweat, heat, dust, free pepsi and absolute awesomeness, was a realization for me. It wouldn’t hurt to get some sunlight a little bit more.
Ps. Don’t risk the reputation.