Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hello from Cambodia!
I wanted to let anyone who's checking my blog know that I got here safe and sound. Things have changed here greatly over the past few years. There's much building going on and a lot more cars on the road and even some places people are taking notice of traffic lights! How things have changed. On the other hand there have been a lot of changes for the worse. In many ways, like in the West, the rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. The price of living has skyrocketed and those who were finding it hard are finding it even harder before. Land prices are risen by 400% which of course means that less people can afford to have their own land, and so face eviction at the whim of big land ownders or the government.

Things have changed in my family as well. It's great to see how my siblings at home have grown up into intelligent talented young men and women. A couple of them can speak a lot more english now than before so I'm having fun helping them practice. I'm also really thankful that in many ways I've been able to remember much of my cambodian language too. It's still not where it was before, but I'm able to have conversations with people so that's all that matters really. I'm hopefull that it will continue to come back.

I was told the other day more about the project I'm going to be doing while I'm here. Servants/TASK the organisation I work with here is undergoing a great time of transition and really is looking to the future and how the organisation and it's activities might change. Part of that means figuring out who else is in the city helping the urban poor and what they do and where, and then figuring out what gaps aren't being met. So that's my job, I'm going to be meeting with the different NGOs here that work with the Urban poor and find out exactly what communities they work in, what services they are trying to provide, and what they believe the biggest unmet needs are. I think this is something that I can actually help with, as I know how to get around, and it frees up the long-term workers here from having to waste their time waiting for meetings that might or might not happen and such. It also gives me a chance to see more of the bigger picture of what is happening with the urban poor in phnom penh. It's going to be a frustrating job, and I'm sure it won't be finished in the month that I'm here, but I'm hoping to make a good start on it, so that someone else can finish off where I stopped. So if you're the praying type, please pray that I'll be able to get good contacts and get some good info for Servants as they plan for the future.

Alright, that's it for now, I'll try and post more soon,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Okay, so yeah, too many pictures of me on the blog, so here's one of my favourite from Banksy who is one of my favourite artists. It's entitled "the elephant in the lounge" and was a live piece on display in L.A. for a week I think...
Alright, so yeah, that long hair would have been pretty hot in Cambodia, and probably increased my chances of failing my OSCEs (oh how I love the establishment nature of the medical profession!). So one of my tasks for today was getting the apparently much needed I thought I'd show it off online.

1 Week Left!

Ahem....alright, the picture above is a piece of work that I thought somewhat accurately symbolizes my current inner feelings (I guess it could also be interpreted as me about to eat a giant invisible sandwich but I'll let the viewer decide). 1 week from today I will be on a plane heading towards Phnom Penh! Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed money to help me to go and to support the work of the Cambodian community health organisation TASK that I am going to be working with. So far we've received enough support so that we can give a donation of over 600 US dollars to their work! Depending on where you're coming from that may either sound like a lot or a little but at the moment with the global economic crisis, and the skyrocekting food prices in Cambodia, it will help a lot. The average monthly salary of a full-time TASK employee is in the range of about 120-140 dollars a month so this obviously will mean a lot to their work and hopefully will help them be able to spend money to provide the most basic of needs (food, shelter, medication) for some of the most vulnerable in Phnom Penh.

Although I'm really excited about going back to Phnom Penh, there's a whole lot to do before I go. I've got a final exam on Thursday (it's an OSCE - Objective Structured Clinical Exam) where they set up patients in several different rooms and stations, and you have about an hour and a half to rotate through and spend about 8 minutes with each patient and perform an assigned examination, take a history, or interpret some results of tests. In a way, it's actually kinda fun, but also can be pretty scary (for both student and patient I imagine!). Anyway, that's on thursday so I'm spending the next couple of days preparing for that. Then, as soon as that's over, I'm moving all my stuff from my current house into a new one, and then wrapping up everything I need to do here before I leave on Tuesday! One final thing that I'm trying to organise at the moment is a job for when I get back from Cambodia. I've planned on only going to Cambodia for 5 weeks this summer as I really need to spend some time earning money to try and subsidize all the expenses that come up during the year. I'll probably end up trying to do some temp work, but it would be really nice if something became confirmed before I leave, cause it would take that concern off my mind. So if you're thinking of ways to pray for me at the moment, that would be a good one.

Alright, well I guess that's it for now, I'll try and post once again before I leave. Thanks again for your continued prayers, emails and support.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Latest soon to be Illegal Aliens...

Hi everyone, well I know I've been slow on the blogging front these days, (my big exams are on tuesday), but I thought I would share this with anyone who happened to check my blog. If you pray, we could really use your prayers at the moment because my brother and sister-in-law (and of course my nephew and niece pictured above) have been refused residency in Ireland and are now being told to leave by August. NOT GOOD! They're going to fight it of course, but we'll need a lot of people praying that they'll be looked upon with favour by those who make the big decisions.

It's hard for me to believe that my brother who has lived in Ireland longer than me, and who missed being born there by only 2 years could be any less entitled to live there than me. And also my neice who was born in Dublin at the same hospital I was (She's not entitled to automatic citizenship because of a recent unfortunate change in the law). Anyway, it makes me angry and upset, but I'm praying and hoping that their appeal will be heard and that they'll not only be allowed to stay, but be given permanent residency like my parents were recently awarded. Anyway, if you can spare a minute please pray for them. I know they really would appreciate all the support they can get.