Tuesday, 02 November 2010 05:18

Paul Munns Memories

Terrible living conditions Terrible living conditions

One the first time on our arrival in Cambodia my manager Stefan and I were shocked at the incredible amount of traffic. We took a tuk tuk to see this amazing lady, Marion Fromm who was caring for landmine survivors. We spent a week at her factory and learnt so much about the Cambodian people. Firstly they were so kind and very humble.

On arrival back in Australia I was desperate to get back to this somewhat war torn country and to mix with who I believe were some of the friendliest people in the world. When you think that the average age of a Cambodian is 48, our indigenous people is 58the Aussie male is 78, something was wrong. Children half clothed, no shoes and camped out on dirt roads. Malnutrition wherever you look. Compassion came all over Aileen and me. My wife said to me, Paul we have to do something to help these people. We set out not with great funds but with a lot of love to buy as much food and goods as we could.

We began to seek out the poorest of the poor around Phnom Penh. It didn’t take long to find poverty. The Stung Meanchey dump with buried bodies, syringes, methane gas surrounding hundreds of children and adults I would have to say was the greatest shock that people should live this way. Living under 2 or 3 rotten towels held up by sticks, drinking putrid water and eating what ever food they could find – no, no this had to be stopped. Aileen started to bring in rubber boots for all the bare footed people as did our friend and interpreter helped to organise tonnes of rice packed in 10kg bags and he organised their sitting in groups of 20 people to receive the food. So much more had to be done.

We had to get more help from Australia and we were fortunate to receive many donations from Aussies with a big heart. Setting out to re clothe the 2000 or more people in the dump is not easy and once again many of the people ran about naked. They had scars and rashes all over their bodies yet every small mercy they were given, it was if their live had started again.