Published: March 31st 2008March 31st 2008
Today started with a tour of the region -- we went by boat to see a fish farm. Doesn't sound that interesting -- but it was mesmerizing.... the day in- day out hard work. Without the use of modern equipment -- these workers collect 30,000 pounds of fish per day. They begin by collecting the catfish eggs, then breed, then feed fish in underwater hatcheries... once the fish reach a certain size, they are moved into a bigger pen. They are then harvested by a group of fishermen (each earning 4-5$/day) who use nets, baskets and a crude underwater breathing tube (not exactly OSHA compliant) to bring the fish to the surface .... then it's off to market.
Next stop was at a Cham village -- a minority group within Vietnam's borders. We walked monkey bridges over a swamp covered in water lillies to reach a village selling handicrafts -- weaving and textiles mainly. We were overwhelmed by a group of children hoping to sell us their homemade waffles... we wanted to hand out some small gifts to the children -- but at their level of need, it quickly became clear that there would never be enough. It's a tough
life and they do what they have to do in order to survive.
We then travelled off the beaten path -- we went to an outlying area (2km from the Cambodian border). With money contributed by friends/family, we purchased 130 cases of noodles with the intent of distributing this food to the village of Ba Chuc -- the place where 3157 people (men, women and children) were massacred in April of 1978 by Khmer Rouge forces. A monument in the town contains the bones of many of those who died... a sobering remembrance. We were instructed on the proper ritual for paying respect to the dead -- with incense and a moment of silence. Hard to explain this part -- but we were turned away by local officials for not having the proper 'permit'. Not to worry -- we will make good use of the food. We have decided to package the noodles along with the school supplies to give out to each of the students at the dedication (which is tomorrow!!)
Carly and company
There are more photos below