Fame Day: Cambodian Orphans and the Calgary Flood

These are some of the kids at the Place of Rescue orphanage in Cambodia.

The reason I want to talk about these kids is because on June 20th one of my best friends was evacuated from her home in Calgary, B.C. due to extensive flooding.

There was actually a lot of cool stories I began hearing after the flood. Like the time the city asked for a few hundred volunteers to come out and help clean out flooded homes and a few thousand showed up instead.

But the coolest story I heard was actually about those kids at the orphanage in Cambodia.  About six days after my friend was evacuated kids and staff at the place of rescue pulled together and sent a total of $900 to help with flood relief in Calgary. Apparently they had each been given the equivalent of about $12 Canadian money by the Cambodian prime minister’s wife not long before the flooding here in Canada. When they heard about the damages they decided to send some of the money they had been given to help with flood repairs. The reason I find this so exciting is because here in North America we tend to think we don’t actually have any real problems.

And we are constantly told about the horrible things happening overseas and why we should send money to help stop these horrible things from happening.

I’m not saying these horrible things aren’t happening. I’m not saying there isn’t a real need, or even that we shouldn’t send money overseas. All I’m saying is that we need them just as much as they need us. When the discussion of poverty is constantly framed in a way that leads us to believe we have the power to save lives it tends to lead to a bit of a god complex.

Not to mention that it also allows us to forget that often we are part of the problem. According to Blaine Sylvester, director of the Calgary-based Canadian

Foundation Place of Rescue, the kids at the orphanage don’t feel like they are so  poverty stricken that they can’t share with their Canadian friends: “The children may live in spartan conditions and sleep 10 to a house with a house mother, but they’re safe, they’re secure and they’re loved.” While Canada and the States are ranked well below countries like Fiji, Nigeria and Ghana on the Global Happiness Index we still assume North Americans need to teach countries we perceive to be “3rd world” how they ought to live.

But while more and more North Americans begin to suffer from donor fatigue, the kids at Place of Rescue seem more than happy to teach us how to give.

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One response to “Fame Day: Cambodian Orphans and the Calgary Flood

  1. Pingback: Blood, Sweat, and Sensationalism | Culture War Reporters

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