I’m loving the gift I was given by Thea from HDLF.
I formed a close connection with Thea while I was living in his village. A 37 year old Khmer with a family of 4 and a big vision to build a school for the kids of the village.
We had many moments, sharing our fears for the future, our goals, our values and some of the stories of our lives.
Thea has a big mission ahead of him. It’s crunch time for him now. The school is on its way to being completed and he is feeling the general pressures and fears. “Is it going to work”?, he asks himself continuously.
Going in with fears and doubts, it reminded me of some of the situations we face when there is a huge challenge ahead. When there is risk involved and we are forced to make calculated decisions according to that risk. The thought of a long term commitment for work and pain.
You always tend to go in with the doubts and the fears. But, I once heard an extremely inspirational concept that put it all into perspective for me.
There is no such thing as fearlessness. That doesn’t exist in situations like these. However, courage does exist and courage is what we call the will to move in spite of our fears and doubts because there is something bigger than those fears and doubts waiting on the other side.
If the Buddhists are correct with their assumption of interconnectedness -that we are one with everything, then is it true that by dousing each atom of our make up with peace, wisdom, positivity and tranquility, then those same elements that surround us also become to cultivate the same sense of peace we carry?
Einstein held the views that of a pantheist, where by reality is identical with divinity, or that all things compose of an all encompassing immanent God.
If we are composed of the same elements that surround us, that we are interconnected, then how can we hack our physical and emotional realities from a place of internal bliss?
If we work hard to develop an internal foundation of peace, wisdom and spirit, what impact would this make on our external realities, our social interactions, our spiritual experiences, our monetary fortunes and our contribution on the world?
As humans, we have this burning desire to find the answers to the mysteries of this life we have been given.
Our cognitive ability gives us the tools to beg questions about the cosmos. We hold this notion that there is an infinite amount of answers out there amongst the stars. Yet, our physical bodies act as a barrier between what we can imagine and what we can accomplish, hindering our ability to answer some of these existential questions. It’s as if our minds are trying to break free from the limited potential of the physical body, as it knows there is much more to our existence than what we witness before us in our everyday lives.
This is one of the greatest tragedies for human kind.
If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, in the West we have fulfilled the bottom two; food and safety. Due to our natural burning desire to solve problems, the absence of problems surrounding our food supply and our safety begin to throw us off balance. We begin to look for other problems to be solved.
If you think about the multi billion dollar industry of contemporary western society, you will see a common theme. They say, “be present and enjoy the moment”. We have introduced an abundance of meditation and other spiritual practices that assist the mind in developing more of a sense of presence.
This could have been a detriment some hundred or so years ago when food and safety wasn’t as prevalent in the lives of those who lived in times like those. The mind was required to be switched on in order to fulfil our most basic needs.
Yet, we still carry this hardware. It has been biologically passed on and has remained quite the same. Yet, the problems we are required to solve have changed dramatically. Is this why we are told to be more present today?
So, where does this leave us? What do we do with all of these ideas that continue to burn us from within?
It’s good to be back home in Cambodia.
I returned to my favourite cafe in town and I was greeted with a standing ovation by all the staff.
It’s moments like these that make all of this worth it. Sometimes, it’s not the impact that you make and things that you achieve here, but rather the smaller things that you tend to cherish.
This little guy didn’t know how to respond when he saw my face. Watching the kids try to process the face of a foreigner is quite comical. They go through a phase of shock and distress. Once they overcome their initial fear, they become entranced with curiosity.
Apparently, I’ve put on a lot of weight after going back to Australia. The Cambodians aren’t shy about letting you know.
The family in Siem Reap.
I can’t believe I lived with these guys for a week, waking up to their domestics, their children crying, their nagging at night time, wanting me to guard the shop while they drank their beers and ate their weird foods after a long shift of work.
I miss them so much already. They are true family.
I woke up this morning and counted my blessings.
The village was vibrant and well, pumping with Cambodian music as I walked down the dirt road, exchanging smiles to all the residents who are currently preparing for the Khmer New Years celebration.
It’s such a beautiful time to be in Cambodia 🇰🇭
The morning coffee run for the teachers and students of the commune.
10 coffees for the price of one Sydney coffee
Okay, maybe they aren’t as good in the taste department when compared to Sydney coffee, but the process of buying these is far better.
I don’t understand a word the lady who makes these coffee says, but her smile and laughter after smacking my head on the coffee stand tin roof is enough for me to drink in joy.
Hello and thank you for following ‘This is Philanthropy’.
I have been living in Cambodia for 8 months now, based in the popular tourist town of Siem Reap, home to the Angkor Wat. During my stay, I have encountered many things that have changed the way I look at myself and the world around me. Through the long, strenuous process of self-discovery, I have realised my passions for serving humanity and as a result, I have decided to embark on a new mission.
As of February 2019, I will be heading out to the rural, sleepy town of Battambang, Cambodia. There, I will be working from the office of a school in a village. To say I am anxious, nervous, excited and curious would be an understatement. A move like this can prove to be of high intensity, creating an abundance of challenges.
I have set up multiple social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for uploading content every day, throughout my journey. I have also created a website for a blog that I will post regularly. I will link my social accounts and my website in the next few days.
To be short, ‘This is Philanthropy’ is designed to provide education and entertainment to those who are either interested in philanthropic work as an experience, interested in philanthropy as a career, or for those who lead much different lives but are still curious to understand and learn about a life much different from their own.
I will be providing updates from my experience, on both objective and subjective levels. I will give updates on certain projects or events that occur within the organisation, plus my own philosophical take on the experience at hand. I will strive to deliver content that is raw, deep and insightful, with a purpose to add value to your life. Thank you for following.
We are drawing closer and closer to the move out into the village. In less than a month, my journey will begin.
I think it’s important, however to not forget about the people and the moments that have contributed towards my inspiration. The past 8 months spent in Siem Reap has brought a world of value and influence upon me.
This is one of my favourite captured moments, so far. Just last week, my Mother came to visit me. It was a surreal experience. We got to catch up after 8 months and I was able to connect my network of people in Cambodia with my network of people from back home and now we are working together to make an impact to the lives of the people in a village close to the main town of Siem Reap.
Mum has gone back home to start up a foundation to raise money to build housing facilities for the people of the village who don’t have houses. Mum was eager to get back home to kick start her philanthropic project. Thank you, Cazi Verjoustinsky, you are an inspiration.
Part of my role here is to network, constantly seeking out those who need help and connecting them with those who are willing to reach their hand out in support.
A role like this can be quite paradoxical. With little to no monetary gain, you might wonder how one keeps motivated. It’s the level of fulfillment that keeps that flame alive, as it is priceless.
Happy Friday, all.
I have never been a huge fan of children, but since moving to Cambodia I’m slowly opening up to them and my love is growing.
The kids here are so cute and friendly, but I guess that can be said for all Cambodian people. Their sense of humour is one thing that has always sparked joy and comfort within me.
I often wonder what humour might mean for the people of Cambodia. One of the most charming traits of an individual can be their ability to turn unfavourable circumstances into works of humour. This is something that the Dalai Lama mention in the book, ‘The Art of Happiness’ – this notion of finding a humorous side to some of our misfortunes in order to soften the blow. Not taking life too seriously, because the more you attach yourself to your circumstances and your identity, the more you feel is at stake.
If we can somehow learn how to manifest this sense of humour through some of our unfavourable circumstances, I wonder what impact this could have on our own happiness?