Dear friends and family, tomorrow we board a plane to Bangkok to volunteer in Cambodia for the third year in a row. Some of you think we're saints, some of you call us 'your heroes', some of you think we're crazy to go to some part of the world that you fear is unsafe. Many of you thank us for going, many of you wish we wouldn't go, or wouldn't stay away so long. Many of you wonder what motivates us, and what keeps us going back.
First of all, we're not saints or heroes - we certainly don't think of ourselves in that way. We like being busy and we like being warm and we like being warmly welcomed. It's as simple as that. We go to Cambodia for the winter because the weather is fantastic, we can be busy helping others and we are so appreciated and warmly welcomed. People there are so nice. They have so little and are so grateful for the smallest kindnesses. They are happy and calm and serene.
As for being unsafe, I suppose we could be in an accident or in a difficult situation in our own town or country just as easily as elsewhere. We register with the Canadian Government so they know we are out of the country. We get yearly medicals and all the required tests. We make sure we are adequately immunized and take out travel medical insurance, and we take tons of medications with us to make sure we'll be well equipped in case of minor illness. And we avoid any situations we think might be risky.
For those of you who thank us for going, we tell you we are humbled, because we feel we do so little and get so much out of it. And we thank all of you who are so generous and donate money and supplies.
For those of you who are sad that we are going, and say you'll miss us, we know how you feel. We are sad to leave you behind, and we miss you all so much, and we feel helpless when something happens when we are there and we can't just drive home and make everything better. Being on the other side of the world has its sad moments too...when a dear friend dies, or someone back home is going through a rough time and needs a hug and moral support, and the best we can do is phone or talk via email or IM.
So what motivates us? Just have a look at these happy faces... and tell me you could resist the urge to go back......