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?
“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” – Wayne Dyer
I love this picture. This was me at the eOcambo Company Christmas party back in Siem Reap. I was slightly drunk and I had just come out of a 10 minute long bout of intense oral and emotional pain after foolishly challenging one of the Cambodian girls to a chilli eating contest. I was on the brink of vomiting, and as for the Cambodian girl, she just sat there and laughed while shaking her head. Oun Kouch 😂
I learned two lessons from this experience;
1) Trying to impress people with your stupid antics will only backfire on you 😂🔥
2) Never again will I challenge a Cambodian, or anyone for that matter, in a chilli eating contest. Especially after drinking beer.
Don’t take me for someone who just lets anyone into their bedroom. I’m just not that type of guy.
But for those who have been supporting me on my journey so far, come on in 🤪
I present to you – the infamous mattress.
Look, it may not seem like much but for me, it’s all that I really need. I figured, I have the rest of my life to sleep in luxurious beds.
The plan is to eat dust for the next few years without expecting anything in return, monetary wise. The lessons learned and the wisdom gained from these experiences is enough to make me feel like the wealthiest man alive.
It’s 9:30 am and I’ve come out here to relax, reflect and escape.
The more the days go on, the more this all starts to sink in and all of a sudden, it’s your reality. Things are starting to uncover themselves, and some of these things you might not like or may not be accustomed to.
It can be overwhelming and agitating. This process of learning and adaptation can send you up and down like angry waves in an ocean.
Living in a commune with 20 people. Wow, it’s an experience unlike no other.
We sat last night for prayer time. It was probably the most interesting circle of prayer I have ever been in. There was chanting, there were mantras and there was worshiping. The crazy part was, all of the main religions were noted and chanted for. People held hands and there was clapping at the end of it.
The kids had their lines that they would sing. It was like this circle of absolutely everything. That’s the philosophy of the school, you see. Free Education for All – all are welcome to join. Everyone is accepted as part of the family. Everyone is out to teach and learn in order to steer each other in the right direction.
Flashback to a time when in a rural village in Cambodia and all you want to do is take a shit in peace, but you have a creepy frog all up in your business.
These slimy creatures and I have made some great memories during my times living in rural villages in Asia.
As the cliche goes – one night in Bangkok. I was out getting drunk and eating street food. I came across a stand that was selling fried frogs. I had 2 small frogs served to me on a wooden skewer. They were delicious.
2 nights later, I’m in rural Thailand sleeping on a thin mattress under a mosquito net. I had a month in this village, and it was my first night when a rain storm hit. At first, I was in high spirits about it. It meant the night would be cool and would sleep well.
About half an hour after entering into the net and resting my eyes, I slowly began to doze off. I was feeling great, falling in and out of consciousness so peacefully. Suddenly, I feel something fall on my back. I remained still at first, only to shoot up in horror seconds later. The sensation felt so foreign to me. I grabbed the wet, slimy thing off me and and threw it at the net. I turned my light on to see a small frog just staring at me. I was freaking out. I got out of bed and began to pace around like a mad man. “Fuck, is this what the next month is going to be about? Frogs jumping on me in my sleep? Nah, I want out right now. I wanna go home”.
I tried going back to sleep, but I had another one jump me. Two small frogs under my net now. It took some of the most grittiest of will to get back to sleep that night. I had no choice. I was out to chop bamboo the next day. I needed rest, desperately.
I thought it was so appropriate for this to happen in Thailand. The concept of Karma was something that I associated this situation with – Eating 2 small fried frogs in Bangkok 2 nights before and having two small frogs attack in revenge as soon as I was in the village.
Damn, those bastards got me on the first night. They did a brilliant job at serving Karma. Mentally, I could never really recover. It was a struggle going to sleep every night after that first encounter.
I often look back on this story and I admire the way it all played out. Getting Karma served in the Buddhist country of Thailand by two frogs. In Thailand, the frog is seen as a sign of wealth. You rub the back of the frog for good fortune. Although I was living in some of the poorest conditions I’ve ever experienced, I came to learn that these trips were when I would feel the richest I’ve ever experienced.
I recall one lonely Saturday night back in Siem Reap. I needed a mid night snack, so I set off on my bicycle into town for some of that famous Cambodian ice cream rolls they make from chopped up fruit on a cold plate.
I was sitting on a milk crate eating my share when I noticed a boy no older than 10 years old, wandering around near the ice cream stands. I called him over to hand him a dollar. He took the money and came back to me with a friend of his, pointing at his friend, asking me to give his friend a dollar.
I said “no”, and signalled for him to split the dollar that was given to him.
The reason why I didn’t give his friend a dollar was because I wanted to teach him the value in sharing. That, when you are gifted with something, it’s your responsibility to share that gift with others. Regardless of the gift, whether it is monetary or a gift of genetic luck, it is our responsibility to honour those gifts for the sake of the bigger picture.
A proud moment was when I watched the kid get change and split the dollar with his buddy.
In Cambodia, community is important. Working in collaboration is a matter of survival. This is an area where the Cambodians thrive. Their sense of generosity is admirable.
Look out for the gifts that have been given to you in your life, not only the monetary ones. Think about the gifts of your personality, your talents, the family you were born into. It is your responsibility to honour those gifts in the pursuit of helping others. Being attentive to your environment will give you a sense of purpose and make the gifts that have been given to you feel far more meaningful.
At night time, we would sit in the main area of the commune where all the classes are done and all of the meals are had in.
We would sit in a circle on plastic chairs – about 15-20 of us, eyes closed and hands joined.
The first time I heard it, I was stunned to hear the chanting and the praying for all different religions. Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna – everyone got a shout out.
After the first two experiences I had with this little prayer ceremony, I began to let go and embrace it for what it was. I noticed myself falling into these drowsy states of mind.
I’ve heard of many stories of healing through the use of chanting and prayer. There are many stories like these in our religious scripts.
If these stories are true, then what is it that is actually happening here? There is something about the subconscious mind that is capable of healing the body and mind. The only problem is, the conscious mind stands in the way as the gatekeeper, guarding what goes into the subconscious mind.
This can be manipulated by falling into altered states of consciousness. Meditation is one way to change your brainwave frequency – prayer, chanting and hypnosis are other forms.
Once you fall into your drowsy state, you are more open to suggestion. Your conscious mind takes a back seat and your subconscious mind becomes open.
If these states are entered into regularly, with consistent affirmations, you begin to program the subconscious mind into believing these things to be true.
When the people of the commune finished singing, they would repeat affirmations such as; I am a kind person, I am keen to learn, I believe in my ability to achieve things, I will always help those in need. These affirmations were all good in nature and value, and this repetitive, trance like affirmation was responsible for dropping suggestions to the open subconscious mind.
Once the subconscious blindly believes in these things, you become programmed to live a certain way. These things begin to manifest themselves through your external world.
Just imagine what pictures we could paint in our minds, making them our true realities.
A late night snack – A bag of cockroaches, soaked in salt and chilli.
I tried one and ended up spitting out a crushed up ball of shell, guts and my own saliva.
I tried staying open to it, recognising the fact that these are in fact a delicacy in many Asian countries. When it first hit my mouth, I made sure I wasn’t basing my opinion off the fact that there was a cockroach in my mouth.
So, I chewed and chewed, waiting to make a final decision without any negative biases. After about 30 seconds, I spat it out on the side of the road.
The shell felt as though it was going to cut my throat if I let it down there. I don’t think it helped that I was directly facing a stack of rubbish bags next to a bin after a hard Friday night.
The Khmer ladies who were next to me laughed as I spat it out and I pointed to the garbage to tell them that what they were eating is found in garbage stacks like the one we were facing.
The ladies shrugged their shoulders, sipped their red wine and continued crunching.