Now, Cowboy, Keep Calm, and Keep Hope have arranged for Jenny and Jenna to attend a good government school and live in a better situation up in Siem Reap, four hours north of their current province and the home to the wonder of world, Angkor Wat. But before they transitioned into their new life, we wanted to give them one last ridiculously fun going away party. Instead of throwing the party out in the jungle province where they live, we decided to bring them to the big capital city, Phnom Penh, to celebrate. It's the first time they've ever been in the big city, and a lot of other firsts for them, in what became, "Jenny and Jenna's Big Day Out!" Watch the video here:
From there, our caravan galavanted around the city for a full day of fun. It was also a day of firsts for Jenny and Jenna - the first time they'd been in the capital, or any city, the first time they'd seen fancy cars, eaten in a regular restaurant, and had their own backpack. It was also the first time they ever had pizza, first time on an escalator and elevator, and believe it or not, we found the one and only ice rink in Cambodia so the girls could go ice skating!
It was probably the most joy and appreciation I've ever experienced from another human being, and I had a blast just watching the smiles on their faces. It was interesting, too, at their reactions to everything so new. For instance, they first took their flip flops off at the front door of the restaurant before walking in, like you'd do at any home in Asia, and they needed a little help with a knife and form, so used to eating with their hands. I loved watching them try to figure out the menu, and they were full after one piece but were more concerned with trying to feed everyone else, a sign of thanks and appreciation in their culture. They also didn't want to do the touristy things of visiting temples or sites like that - they wanted to see the big, bright, modern shopping mall and even a modern grocery store! They'd never seen a store mannequin before and laughed so hard at that, were amazed by the big, crystal-clear televisions, and stopped to ogle every thing shiny. But they never ever asked for one thing all day - not one single thing. It was beyond their comprehension that poor orphans like them could even own something. They had fun pushing their ice cream into my face and we all kept each other from falling on the ice skating rink. They absolutely went bonkers chasing the pigeons in front of the royal palace.
But it wasn't all fun and games - we made sure to drive by the local university's medical school and take photos. Part of the goal of this Big Day Out was to expand their world view - to expose them to the modern world and lift their ceiling to what's possible. Keep Calm and Keep Hope are such amazing, generous, and wonderful mentors to these girls, and Jenny and Jenna say they want to follow in their footsteps studying medicine. It would be a good start if they could even get into school consistently, but now, they can say they were at a university and maybe won't be as intimidated.
We all ended the day happy but exhausted, with a round of hamburgers and big hugs goodbye at Larry's before Rambo put the girls and the grandmother on the tuk tuk for the long ride back to their province.
Here's the deal - Jenny and Jenna should be able to go to a better school very soon in Siem Reap, with Cowboy Bart, Keep Calm, Keep Hope, and myself as their advocates. We've even raised some funds thanks to your generous donations to help with their living expenses, clothing, food, and cost of education. But they need more support in order to have a shot at a better life, not just pizza and fun videos one day and then we all forget about them. And there are millions of kids in Cambodia, and probably a billion around the world, who are desperately poor and suffering, and just need a little help.
So please share this blog and video, tell others, and read some of my other blogs about poverty in Cambodia and the world, including your back yard. If you'd like to help Jenny and Jenna or any of the other projects we have going on, please drop me an email.
And THANK YOU for being a part of Jenny and Jenna's Big Day Out!!!!!