March 5, 2010

Annie Martens in Svay Rieng Province

Annie Martens is living and working in near Svay Rieng town, only one province away from where she grew up when her family was serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia. Annie works with International Development Enterprises (IDE), a non-governmental organization that works with agricultural and sanitation projects. IDE’s director is Mike Roberts, spouse of SST Cambodia family assistant Sreyhem Roberts. Most of Annie’s work centers around visiting Farm Business Advisers’ villages and seeing the impact of various IDE projects. Over time, Annie will develop either human-interest stories, a blog, or other public relations materials for IDE, and she’ll also be teaching local staffers some accounting software and doing other computer work in the Svay Rieng office. Annie lives with the family of Im Vanna, one of her colleagues in the Svay Rieng office. She rides her bike the seven kilometers to the office each day, and then goes out — usually with another staffer on a moto — from there. In her home village of Pnou, which is down the main road and then about a kilometer down dirt paths through the rice fields, Annie has a full complement of siblings, nephews, and friends. In the evenings some of the children and adults have been asking her to teach English, so that is now part of her responsibilities in Pnou.

When Keith visited, Annie and Keith and parts of Annie’s family took a half-hour walk to the nearby wat, over a several-hundred meter bridge (constructed from bamboo and other found wood). There an English-speaking monk gave us a tour of the Buddhist monastery, describing for us the various images of Buddha’s life painted around the interior of the wat.

Because Annie is living in a setting without other Goshen students, she has more freedom to travel on weekends. Last night (Thursday) she came into Phnom Penh to stay overnight at the Graber Miller apartment. Today she is working at IDE’s local office and then Saturday she will travel to Kampot Province with two other IDE staffers (Eva and Genevieve, both University of North Carolina students and interns at IDE’s Phnom Penh office) to see Allison and Trisha outside of Kampot town. Overall, Annie is doing quite well, happy to be placed in a setting where she can explore and experience Cambodian rural life on her own.

Subsequent blogs will cover visits with Kelly and Phil in Mesang District and with Stephanie in Prey Veng.

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