We finished the week of preparatory interviews so I could understand the lay of the wheelchair land here. The puzzle pieces are falling into place. We have been looking through each individual or organization’s window and then crossed these views with those of others, looking through a different window and findings some sort of rationale behind the different views. As I find over and over again, everyone is right. The task is not to convert but to integrate.

Axel arrived in Phnom Penh after a 6 hour bus ride from the north. He had come in 2nd in a trivia night and won a glass of garlic infused vodka. His seat mate in the bus offered him a mint.

While he was making his way to PP we completed the intermediate level wheelchair provision training, with final presentations, a distribution of posters and equipment that the trainers are not taking home. This included four electric knives (to cut foam) which all blew their fuses within minutes of use because they came from America and could handle only 110 volts. Being inoperable at the moment did not affect these knives being the most coveted items. We had to do a lottery and then each of us offered one of the four grand prizes to the lucky winners under loud cheers. They say they can fix the knives and make them useful again. I hope.

The official closing was delayed because we were waiting for the excellencies, the name given to senior government officials. After having been told they were on their way, we learned later that they would not come. And so the lead trainer from the Philippines and my colleague M installed themselves as minor excellencies on the dais, a gold stain cloth-covered table with a plastic orchid and lily arrangement on top. It was all very formal with an official program and led by a master of ceremonies, even though it was all ‘entre nous.’

We returned home to the hotel, me to find Axel and have a lemongrass martini with him by the pool, the others to change, before heading for a closing dinner cruise on the rivers intersect here at Phnom Penh.

And now it is weekend and I am preparing for both a relaxing weekend and a preparation for the intense week to come. I am not sure how I am going to do that.

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February 2015
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