Den, Barang, Shelby, me, Clemi, Heng (not pictured Lucky...who is on the drill team, but introduced us to bagged coffee)
It is a weird thing to say something is the last. So final and clean cut. Today was the last day of volunteering in Siem Reap at Trailblazer, but the experience was exactly what I wanted it to be. Last time I volunteered, I left feeling very burnt by the NGO world, a little hopeless and very doubtful of the continuation of anything. Trailblazer has been the exact opposite. It existed before me and will continue to move forward. We replaced the old man filter of #25 from over 10 years ago with filter number 4226 during my time here. The filters we constructed the first week we got here are now just being delivered. I am but a blip in the progression of its mission. I am very glad that volunteering found its way into this jaunt. The relationships it allows to build, the experience of BEING somewhere instead of just SEEING somewhere is a huge value to me. I loved having someone to ask questions to, the woman who knows my coffee order ask me where I have been when I didn’t get coffee over the weekend, the woman who did our laundry questioning why we stayed in Siem Reap so long, having Tuk Tuk drivers to joke with. The routine and belief in a purposeful mission and the ability to meet real people from a different place all are provided by a volunteering experience. I will miss the 3 hours it takes me to sift small pebbles and the ability to get lost in a task. I will miss Heng’s Cambodian rap music and dubbed movies. I will miss Den telling me to be careful careful and tell me no not that way. I will miss getting to know Clemi better and learning about her research project on the effectiveness of the filters. But the time has come to continue the jaunt before I just chose to stay.