To celebrate my 1 month of living here in Kampong Cham and 3 months of living in Cambodia, I decided to answer some questions many people keep asking me.
Some of these questions are:
"What are you doing in Cambodia?"
"What does a Peace Corps volunteer do?"
"What is your schedule like?"
To give the most honest and Peace Corps-like answer, "It depends!"
As a Community Health Education (CHE) volunteer, there are some things that I am expected to be doing in the community.
"Volunteers will not provide direct care, but will instead serve as educators, community mobilizers and trainers. Volunteers’ primary duties will include, but not be limited to:
1. Providing health education to rural populations through:
• Participating in one-on-one interactions at the health center
• Providing classes at primary and secondary schools
• Conducting community outreach
• Conducting home visits
2. Facilitating training of trainers on health topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, sanitation, hygiene, family planning, non-communicable diseases
3. Mobilizing and organizing feeding programs including cooking demonstrations and construction of home and community gardens
4. Identifying grant opportunities and assisting in grant proposal development
5. Constructing and delivering behavior change strategies." (Peace Corps Cambodia)
Now, will I actually meet these expectations? Well, that is remain to be seen.
Realistically, 3 months of learning Khmer is definitely not enough to start educating the community on health issues. Even though I may have the words to make them understand, I may not understand their follow up questions in order to answer them and educate them properly.
I currently work 5 days a week at the Health Center. I did a couple of hand washing practicums, but they weren't well received. If there is a delivery, I go into work to observe and help. If there is a staff meeting after work, I join in. Some days are super busy, and I'd help measure blood pressure and weight of pregnant mothers. Some days are not busy at all, so I just ended up teaching the Health Center Staff some stretching and exercise moves.
I teach 5 English classes a week to 3 different age groups. I have about 50 students altogether.
I'm also learning how to read and write Khmer twice a week. I found a friend in a Midwife from my Health Center. She has also graciously agreed to be my language tutor as well.
In my free time, I binge on Netflix or go on bike rides. If only I can do both at the same time. I also like to treat myself so I'd bike 20km away just to get an Oreo Frappe or Fried Chicken.
Cambodia has changed me for the better in some ways, like my health and waking up early in the morning. However, it hasn't been able to change my bad habits. I still have a procrastinating kinda personality so I try to avoid doing laundry or cleaning my room. I don't mind though, because it means I feel at home here and I can still be who I am.
For now, I'm just enjoying every day as it comes and going with the flow.