Sometimes life throws you experiences that are totally humbling.
Last week I had one of those experiences. I was privileged to meet some incredible elderly people – a few diamonds, shining brightly despite incredibly poor living conditions and some very sad histories.
Lidia from Together for Cambodia took me to meet a group of grandmothers and one grandfather, who are supported through the organisation’s community program, Diamond Age.
This beautiful couple – aged around 75 and 85 respectively – were a little bit shy of the camera and very stiff and formal. But when they relaxed they broke out into beautiful, heartwarming smiles. Lidia says they only support one grandfather, the rest are grandmothers, because many men of this generation died during Cambodia’s years of terror under the Khmer Rouge. It is a very sobering thought.
The support provided through the Diamond Age program is mostly food supplies. Previously, many of them were living on a diet of boiled rice with salt. Some were still working for a pittance to try and pay their way. Some have no family to help them, others have families who are too poor to support them.
This lovely lady was so thankful to receive the box of food supplied to her. She was delighted to receive visitors. Social workers also attend the visits to these aged people, to check on their health – physical and mental – and make sure they are doing well.
Until recently this gorgeous grandmother, who has poor eye sight, was making grass mats to keep herself busy. She would collect the grass and dry it, then weave it into beautiful mats and sell them. But her back has been too sore and she has not been able to make any recently.
This group of seniors, have very little in terms of personal possessions and financial wealth. But they make up for it in warmth and heart.
Despite their circumstances they have huge smiles and are quick to laugh, they are so grateful and very welcoming.
And that is really what is so humbling.
In reality, it is easy to be humbled in this country, but some situations are more profound than others.