Saturday, 21 September 2013

Hooray - my expenses balance!

It's always a relief when one's expenses balance - this trip involves 5 different currencies and I'm so grateful to my lovely husband for designing me a spread sheet to manage my financial nightmares.  I'm pleased to say that I have exactly the right number of reil, pounds, dollars, rupees and baht left and I'm rather proud of myself.

It's always a treat to be back in Cambodia - I worked with Cambodian refugees in Thailand in the 1980s and learned to speak, read and write the language fairly fluently.  I lived in Cambodia itself in the early 1990s with CORD (http://www.cord.org.uk/) and visited frequently when I was Tearfund's southeast Asia Desk officer, until we adopted  Hannah in the Year 2000.  It had been 14 years since I spoke any Khmer but I'm pleased to say it's all coming back to me now that I have undertaken 3 trips here with the Global Midwifery Twinning Project.  I have a network of friends and contacts here that has been invaluable.  The programme here had a slow start and we have managed to pull it round thanks to some sound in-country advice and support. 

I am here to undertake some mid-term evaluation activities and join the Cambodian Midwives Association in a regional workshop in Prey Veng Province.  They chose the location as it's a very poor province and has a low density of CMA members. Co-incidentally it is where I worked in the 1990s so I am able to stay with my friend Barb, a midwife from the UK who has lived here for over 20 years.  I will travel down to Prey Veng tomorrow (Sunday) on the Public Bus which will doubtless be a warm, dusty and bumpy ride but will enable me to see the countryside close up and observe the changes since the 1990s.  I have my traditional Khmer outfit to wear for the conference (Jacque and I had them made when we were here in July) and have packed my mini suitcase with Duchy Originals biscuits and home-made jam, treats for those who live far away from Western Supermarkets!

I had a restful day today - I needed it having worked flat out for 10 days in Nepal with no break.  I did have three meetings but they were all quite relaxed and took place over pots of tea or lovely meals.  In between times I found time to have a pedicure ($5 for a full-hour!) so I now have coral toes in time for the workshop!

The art of report-writing whilst having a pedicure
I met up with Kath Hinchcliff for tea this afternoon. She is a retired Senior NHS Commissioner who has been working as a VSO volunteer here for the past 3 years, assisting the Cambodian Midwives Association and the Cambodian Midwives Council.  Her input to our project and our own volunteers has been invaluable and I know that the impact of her work here will be felt for years to come.  Kath provided some very useful insights for my programme evaluation and feels that GMTP is beginning to yield some results here
With Kath Hinchcliff
  I dinner with Steve and Ruth Penfold and three of their four children.  Steve is a locally based healthcare consultant with fantastic expertise in reproductive and sexual health and has been enormously helpful to GMTP in Cambodia.  It was good to catch up personally and professionally and to view the new family car!

Who needs a car when you can buy a tuk tuk? Much more fun!
So, I will attend the International Church tomorrow morning then head off on my next adventure.  I have hired some help whilst I am here - Nisay is a very smart graduate who will help me with translation and other duties, leaving me free to do what I need to do.  I'm not travelling with anyone else on this leg of the trip so needed some help with the donkey work.  Let's hope we survive the bus journey tomorrow!

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