A breakfast of hope
03.10.2007 - 03.10.2007
Today was a difficult day for me. I never expected to come to a developing country and not see poverty. In the past week I have seen more poverty than ever before--kids begging for money, adults in tattered clothing. But I didn't feel it in my heart until today.
I arrived in Battambang on a little motor boat from Siem Reap. I met a guy from NYC on the boat, Craig, and we explored the city (what there is to explore) a little. This morning we went to a cafe for breakfast and sat next to the window, eating our big breakfast of banana pancakes, fresh fruit and lemon juice. A few minutes into the meal, a small boy came right up to the window, begging for food. His tiny dark body was barely covered with clothing, a pajama shirt that had string for buttons and had never been washed. He carried a big plastic bag and hid in the shadows of the cafe, only revealing himself to stare at us eating.
I dont give children money here since you hear so many stories of what they do with it: being "pimped" by their parents who dont give any of the money to their kids or using it to buy sniffing glue. I don't know the truth but every chance I got, I would try and feed the starving children who hope for a handout from someone.
He just stood there at the window, looking at the feast in front of us. We couldn't deny his presence and obvious hunger so we gave him the rest of our food (begger kids are not allowed in restaurants unless you walk in with them and store keepers shoo them out if they see them near their patrons). He gave us the most beautiful smile in return. He had the most gorgeous face, dark eyes paired with big white teeth. It killed me to see such a young boy with nothing. After took his food, he ran around the corner so we couldn't see him eating. A survival tacit or just shame, he finished the food quickly and came back to us. We played for an hour or so but when I left him I knew that I would never forget him. I wanted to take him home and save him from his life of begging on the streets but instead I had to leave him alone again. I hope his life changes, but I don't know how it would, and I wish I could do more.
This is a similar sentiment of travellers I've talked to that travel to Cambodia. They are such happy people, friendly and smiling but most of them have close to nothing. You can feed one person one meal but when you leave you can only hope that they somehow get a better life than they have when you crossed their path.