This weekend was so great because even though I've been fighting this horrible cold, I found a part of Cambodia that was able to warm my soul.
My feelings of apathy and frustration toward my day job have led me to search for volunteer opportunities around Phnom Penh. During the past couple months, I've been poking around messages boards here and making small talk with expats working at NGOs. Finally, my friend Charlotte invited me this weekend to visit the orphanage where she is a full-time volunteer.
Now, I guess you can't really call A New Day Cambodia an "orphanage" because the kids there aren't really orphans. They are children of families who live an work at the garbage dump. The center offers the children the opportunity to get off the streets and attend school, but still live close to and keep constant contact with their families.
I'd have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about the visit. Charlotte said anything I'd be willing to do - such as running a Saturday activity with the kids - would be appreciated. As much as I like kids and want to work with them, they make me nervous. And the thought of being in charge of a group of 10 to 50 was a bit overwhelming. However, I quickly found out how great the kids are. As much as you want to love on them and provide them with some sort of positive role model, they love on you right back. Amid all the hugs and smiles and enthusiasm that I witnessed from these children, my nerves quickly dissipated.
After discussing with Charlotte a bit about the needs of the center and trying to identify my own talents that I could offer them, we came to the agreement that I would work with a small group of the older kids to help them learn some more advanced computer skills. Charlotte oversees a computer program where the children learn typing skills and basic programs like Microsoft Word, but she had this awesome idea of starting a blog to let the kids express themselves and show off their work. I think it's fantastic, so I'm going to help her get the blog off the ground and teach the kids who really have an interest in computers and design some basics on programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
I start Wednesday. I can't wait!