So I have neglected this blog for an entire year and I have realized, unfortunately, that I miss adventuring. Now while I am stuck on campus finishing off my senior year, there is no reason for life to be boring! So I have decided to pick up this blog again in honor of my favorite type of adventure--cooking!
I love to cook and talk about food so I hope you feel inspired to try some new recipes! Everything here is vegan, sugar-free and absolutely delicious (I promise).
Oh and please email me any time with your adventures (kitchen related or not)! Email me at KarinaHCosta@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Arriving

Why hello!

After two days of journeying, four different airports, mild food poisoning (go Continental Airlines), seemingly endless lines, and no sleep...I have finally arrived in Phnom Phen!

I haven't gotten to go around the city much yet, but everyone I have met so far has been extremely nice. Phnom Phen is a relatively dirty city, marked by a couple major paved roads and then dozens of unpaved roads that are supposidly identified by numbers which were assigned completely randomly. The guesthouse I am staying in, the Boddhi Tree Umma, is quite possibly the cutest place I've ever been. It has a cafe and a lobby that may or may not also be a rainforest. I find the cuteness of the Boddhi Tree rather ironic however because across the street is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21. S-21 is the infamous prison of the Khmer Rouge, where 17,000 people were tortured and slain over the course of four years. I really want to take a tour of the museum, but I know it will have to wait until tomorrow when I am not so jet-lagged.

As for my internship, the director of AFSC Cambodia picked me up from the airport and immediately we got started in talking about what I will be doing. Russell, the director, is a 40something Australian who has been living in Cambodia since 1993, the year of the first election. Oh, I also found out that elections will be this July, which I am very excited to be here for. I am not fully aware of the political tensions that are surrounding the current election, but I was given the impression that everything should be very peaceful. One party, the People's Party, has reigned since 1993 and while there are many opposition parties the People's Party will probably win again. Many say that Cambodians are still more interested in stability then what the party actually stands for. Just last week the NGOs in Cambodia hosted a forum for all of the party representatives (of which the People's Party did not show) to discuss the environmental future and planning for the country. The newspaper article about it should be out on Monday, and I am interested as to see what key issues were discussed.

One thing I know that was brought up was the issue of hydroelectric dam construction (ok, now back to what I am actually doing here) by the people of Sre Ambel. Sre Ambel is in the Southwest region of Cambodia and it is which I will be living while I am here; AFSC has been working in the region for a while and Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods (ISL) has been working on forestry and fishery management with the locals for a number of years now. The area is plagued with land use issues as the government leases the land to big businesses who fill in the rice paddies to grow sugar cane. The area also happens to be the host of a newly approved hydroelectric dam that is intended to help power Phnom Phen. Unfortunately, no Environmental Impact Assessment was completed before the dam was approved. So AFSC and another local NGO (River something...) took it upon themselves to do an EIA report. The report has just gone through its second draft, and Russell gave me a copy of the report to look over. So my first assignment? Read the report and be able to simplify it for the local Khmer that work for AFSC. It turns out that Russell is the only non-Khmer working for the company so many of the NGO employees are having trouble understanding the report seeing as it was written in rather confusing english. (To clarify, AFSC hired an outside consultant to write the report and conduct the analysis.) I have already read about 20 pages and it is dense material, but what can I say, I love it! No, really. The report focuses not only on the environmental impact of the dam but on the potential for human rights violations that such a major construction could impose as well. I am learning a lot about the local region and I can't wait to go to Sre Ambel and finally discuss how the locals feel about the dam plans.

Ok, well I think that is all for now! Hopefully I will be able to write again tomorrow, but after that I honestly don't know when I will be able to write again. Tomorrow I am having breakfast with some Quaker librarian who has been living in Cambodia since the late 80s or so, and as result I know she'll have a lot of interesting things to say. Apparently she has been waiting for another Quaker to enter the country for quite some time now (no one at AFSC Cambodia is actually a Friend). She sounded like the jolliest British woman who ever lived when I talked to her on the phone, so breakfast should be fun.

Love you all,
Miss you more.

Oh and please forgive any misspellings or confusing sentences. Every-Single-Key sticks on this keyboard, and I am jetlagged. Oh well.

3 comments:

momma said...

wow!

it sounds like you will be working on such important projects for the future of cambodia.

D' Isep said...

Apesar de não saber muito inglês, mas pelo que seu Pai nos falou, estamos felizes por você,esperamos que tenha sucesso em seus projetos... Estamos esperando por você aqui no Brasil.

Anonymous said...

Karina, This is from your Grandma Judy's cousin....Suzan. My brother Jasun sent me your blog. Hope to read more soon and find out all about your work and adventure. Have fun and good for you(for whatever you are doing there)