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April 2, 2010

Back Home Again in Phnom Penh

All 19 Cambodia SSTers arrived back home in Phnom Penh sometime Friday, checking in at the Graber Miller home before returning to their host families. Everyone was healthy and happy to be back, though some were melancholy about leaving their villages, where they had developed close friendships over the last six weeks.

March 31, 2010

Cambodian Family Photos

One of the Graber Miller family activities this week — in addition to bumper cars and bowling — was getting our photos taken in the Cambodian style, with traditional Cambodian clothing and excessive amounts of makeup and even hair extensions or curls for Ann and Mia. Not everyone in the family was thrilled with the process, but it made for a fun afternoon activity. Posted here are two photos from the 15 we took that afternoon.

March 24, 2010

Allison and Trisha are living 15 minutes outside of Kampot, tucked in the southwestern part of Cambodia about half an hour from the beach. The Graber Millers made their last service visit there from Monday to Wednesday this week; all 19 students will be returning to Phnom Penh in 8 days (Friday, April 2) for several days of reorientation and project presentations. Trisha and Allison work in the small community of Kampong Kreang, which is the home area for Cambodian Parliament Member Mu Sochua.

March 20, 2010

Kat and Rachel in Mongkol Borei

Three hours from their nearest counterparts in Kampong Phluck, Rachel and Kat are living and serving in Mongkol Borei, a town an hour and a half north of Battambang, Cambodia’s second largest city. Mongkol Borei is only 50 kilometers from the Thai border and part of the region where the Khmer Rouge held power long after they were booted out of Phnom Penh in January 1979. The rest of the Graber Miller family left Siem Reap for Phnom Penh Wednesday morning while Keith boarded a bus to head northwest to Bantey Meanchey province. Kat and Rachel both are living with…

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March 19, 2010

Julian and Annalisa are living in working in two of the three villages that make up the Kampong Phluck communities, the stilted villages near the Tonle Sap lake and Siem Reap. The entire group visited Kampong Phluck back in late January when we went to Angkor Wat, and many said the village visit was almost as intriguing as the ancient temples of Angkor. Homes are placed on 20-foot stilts, and during the rainy season (beginning in about June and running through the fall), the Tonle Sap expands to three times its dry-season size, flooding the small land mass in Kampong…

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March 13, 2010

This is the third and final posting from this week’s visits to three different student village settings — seeing Corinne, Seth, Bailey, Sarah, and Chloe in Tampoun villages, Michael and Austin in their Jarai village, and Charlie and Jake in Kampong Cham province. The Graber Millers head off tomorrow morning for Siem Reap and Kampong Phluck, where they will see Julian and Annalisa, and then Keith will go on to Oddar Meanchey Province (12 hours from Phnom Penh) for a visit with Rachel and Kat. Charlie and Jake are loving their multicultural experience in Svay Khleang, located off a dirt…

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March 13, 2010

Michael and Austin in Kong Yuk

Austin and Michael are living and working with a Jarai indigenous family in the village of Kong Yuk, about 50 kilometers outside of Banlung, the provincial capital of Ratanakiri Province, and just 40 kilometers from Vietnam. Some may remember the story of the “jungle girl of Cambodia,” a young woman who reappeared from out of the jungle in January 2007 after being missing for nearly two decades. The young woman is from a small village near Kong Yuk and Oyadao, and her village is where Michael and Austin are doing most of their English teaching.

March 13, 2010

Tampoun Villagers in Ratanakiri

This is the first of three posts we’ll be putting up today before heading out for another trip in the morning to see two more pairings of students. Last week the Graber Miller family took a six-day excursion to Ratanakiri Province in Cambodia’s uppermost northwest, adjacent to both Laos and Vietnam. There we saw Corinne, Chloe, Bailey, Sarah, and Seth in their indigenous Tampoun villages and Michael and Austin in their further-out Jarai village. On the return to Phnom Penh we visited Charlie and Jake in Kampong Cham, a Muslim village located along the Mekong River. Overall, the trip proved…

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March 5, 2010

Stephanie Hollenberg has three work sites in Prey Veng town, about 2 1/2 hours outside of Phnom Penh. Although her work placement(s) got off to a bit of a rocky start, she’s settled in now to three really excellent service settings, doing work she enjoys. Arrangements for the initial orphanage where Stephanie was scheduled to work fell through the day after she arrived in Prey Veng, so Stephanie, Keith, and Mennonite Central Committee workers Ruth and Miles Wiederkehr scrambled to come up with other contacts. Stephanie then left for a weekend family wedding in Takeo Province, and by the time…

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March 5, 2010

Kelly and Phil in Mesang District

Kelly Frey and Phil Stoesz are living and working in Mesang District, a quite rural region of Prey Veng Province (already rural itself), which is located adjacent to Vietnam. Both SSTers work at Organization to Develop Our Villages (ODOV), a non-governmental organization funded by Mennonite Central Committee and other entities. In their first week in Mesang Town, Phil and Kelly worked about 45 hours in the office or the classroom, assisting with editing and accounting and then teaching an English class every evening.

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