Season of Hope, Scene of Hopelessness

For a lot of people across the world, it's the season of hope. Christmas is more than a time when people get together with friends and family and open gifts around the Christmas tree, drink hot chocolate and bake Christmas cookies. This time of year gives us the chance to reflect on humanity, reach out a helping to those in need and, for ourselves, despite of the hardships we face, hold on to the idea that we will make it through another day.

How ironic it is, then, that this weekend, the weekend before Christmas, I visited a place that lacks hope. Where people live day to day just trying to survive. Trading in an education for a meal on the table. Setting up home in a dump -- literally.

The dump in Phnom Penh isn't exactly what you'd consider a tourist destination, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit because it paints a literal picture of the poverty that this country suffers from. A Cambodian couple, who used to work with World Vision to help further the opportunities for the families living and working there, took me and explained about how much it has grown over the past 10 years. It has outgrown itself, and now a smoky haze of burning garbage surrounds the area. Soon a new location will be opened and the families living on a meager $5-10 a day will be jobless.

I'm not sure what else to say about the situation. It's doesn't sink in easily that people live and work in these sorts of conditions, and yet I don't really know enough about their situation to say what should be done to correct their standard of living. However, if something isn't done, it's going to be a generational cycle, an inherited way of life. In a country that is working to redeem itself after years of human mistreatment, I hope it won't continue much longer.

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