During the time spent in Cambodia after three weeks of wandering around Vietnam and Laos, I got to see a serious side of poverty. It seemed that everywhere I turned, the face of poverty was there looking back at me, looking deep into my soul. It left me feeling overwhelmed and powerless for the most part. What could I do as an individual, a person within the lower middle class of the western world, to make a difference? The “money” I had would soon be exhausted with negligible effect on the lives in IndoChina.
It didn’t take me long to see that the poverty was deeper than the lack of money. If that was the only problem, throwing money at the problem would solve the problem. The time I have spent on reserves and in rural areas of western Canada where First Nations poverty is a real fact had proven to me that the infusion of money, more often than not, worsened the problems creating more dependency, adding more tension between the givers and the receivers of the money.
All I could think of was somehow opening doors to education, an education which would allow those hungry enough to claim the knowledge and tools to reforge their own lives. But even that is not enough. What about the little ones like this little girl who is trapped by geography, culture, family poverty, and by history? How does one change the mindset of a nation which is governed by the shadow of the masculine? Revolts against the shadow erupt all over the world, but those revolts are more instinctual than they are based on consciousness. The results of these revolts that promise change only end up with a different set of faces continuing to govern unconscious of the roots of the real problems of their communities.
So, I am left with hoping that what I am doing here as a teacher, as a guide through the dark sides of the human psyche, will make a difference.