The thing about mosquito netting …

… is that you have to tie it loosely. Your instinct will be to pull it taut and make a pert little tent, but when you pull it taut, it rides up off the ground. There’s nothing to tuck in around your mat, and the mosquitoes get in, and that kind of defeats the purpose of mosquito netting. Borey, one of the guys who helped us set up our mosquito tents, about fell over laughing at my net construction. Then he swiftly cut it down and re-strung it, cackling the whole time–but he laughs at everything.

We strung up the tent nation–pink netting for the single tents and purple flowered for the doubles–in an open pavilion on Eden Farm, a 25-hectare spread in Koh Kong Province. We slept there for three nights on thin mattresses on the tile floor. “So, which do you hate more, the dogs or the roosters?” asked Theo after the first night. (The answer to this question, by the way, is always “the roosters.”) Eden Farm is owned by Navy Chann, the director of the Genesis Community of Transformation (GCT) and her husband Ly Chhay. Navy and Ly have planted 5,000 Soursap fruit trees at the farm, five hectares of which they plan to turn into the Eden School of Agriculture: a farmer’s training school.

Monday we took a long, wandering tour of the farm. Then the students (working in 95-degree heat) weeded the fruit trees, widened the garden and deepened the new fish ponds. The garden crew sent up a shout at mid-afternoon on Monday when they succeeded in unearthing a gigantic (and intractable) root.

While on the farm, professors and students also did a little research. Leonard and a student team spent two days surveying the property. Their work will be used by a senior design team that is creating an irrigation system. David also did some surveying and some soil testing, funded by a grant from the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity. He hopes to found a research station at the training school. (Before coming to Calvin, David worked in the agriculture industry.)

Tuesday brought us to the villages. In Plong Village, home to 107 families, the main problem is water, according the village chief.  A local dam had been damaged by bombing during the war, and salt water is seeping into the rice fields. The farmers there cannot cultivate 83 out of 100 hectares of their fields. “You see, that’s something that community organizing can fix,” said Navy. She registered GCT in October of last year (after 10 years experience in development with the CRWRC), and the village visits were reconnaissance missions for her volunteer staff. In a dusty field nearby, the Calvin students, having exhausted their arsenal of games were playing something the local children taught them. “That is traditional for Khmer New Year,” Navy said.

In Chroy, a village of 270, we sat with a group of pre-teen and teenage children. There were five girls sitting in a row on plastic lawn chairs and three slightly older boys sitting together. The Calvin students addressed the girls first. Did they go to school? No. Had they ever gone to school? Yes. How long? One year, two year. What did they do instead of go to school? Farm. All of the boys were in the 9th grade.

Kunthea, the GCT administrator, cooked for us at the farm. Kunthea is a darling, and she cooked everything in a wok on the floor of the open kitchen. One night she departed from her customary Khmer fare and served spaghetti, which wasn’t to her liking. “It’s too sour,”she said. “Buy Prego,” I told her.

On our final night at Eden Farm, the Calvin students and GCT staff put on a variety show. The closing act was “The Wide Mouthed Frog” as told by Leonard and interpreted by Navy. He indicated that he didn’t want to see it on YouTube …


1 comment so far

  1. Ann DeRooy on

    Looking forward to learning the game(s)!
    Spaghetti! I bet Alison was happy!

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