Flooding in Cambodia
Yesterday we spent the afternoon travelling to Tonle Sap Lake District outside of Siem Reap. This area is located along a riverway leading to the Tonle Sap Lake. The community is actually made of up mostly Vietnamese people living along the water ways. It is unique for two things: its flow changes direction twice a year, and the portion that forms the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. The latter couldn’t be more true at this moment during the rainy season.
We drove for less than an hour as far as we possibly could until we literally ran out of road to drive on. The drive cut short by at least 25 minutes because the road simply ceased to exist. We ended up boating down where the road once was for over 30 minutes to reach the start of where the Tonle Sap community usually starts. We could easily tell where roads were because the trees lined the paths and poked out of the water. There was water EVERYWHERE. Literally all you could see were the tops of trees for kilometres. Every now and again, a house could be seen, often sitting below the water line, or sitting precariously just above it. It was really humbling to see this and try to understand what life must be like for people who live in this area during the rainy season. This isn’t the first time that this happened. It is a way of life. And definitely not an easy one.
The Global Post reports that “More than 100 are dead, roughly 850 square miles flooded and more than 60,000 evacuated from their homes, according to situation reports prepared by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. To varying degrees, two-thirds of Cambodia’s provinces have been hit by a flooding crisis.” Globalpost.com
Travelling and seeing first hand the experience of those who live this harsh reality daily was very difficult to comprehend, but it made us all think about the houses we are about to build on Saturday and how desperately they are needed for people to survive in these conditions.
Despite these harsh conditions, everyone was waving to say hello. The kids were scrambling to wave and shout out greetings to us (while also demonstrating the universal language of dancing the “Gangnam Style” as we floated past their houses. We still can’t figure out how Psy and Gangnam Style has made it to this community but it has!
We have now travelled to Phnom Penh and the city itself is dry, but outside of the city thousands of people have been affected by the water that is currently flowing through Cambodia. We hope the sun stays out and dries this all up as quickly as possible.
Sunshine – do your work!