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By Julie D.

The reason we went on the clinic wasn’t only to fix the roof, electricity and bring the supplies, the main reason was to meet the villagers and to put our VHVs program back on track! To do so, we need one Village Health Volunteer in each village.

We've started with Beng Thom village.

Chantrea has used the megaphone to warn the villagers, asking them to join TLC’s staff under the tree.
Few minutes later, more than 20 persons grouped together, men, women, children, babies…

And the show began.
You should see Sakhem talking to these people, he speaks, he laughs, he jumps, he jokes, he entertains. He really does. He is really good at this. Impressive.

You know, to get the attention of the people or to deliver a message, to be sure it’s understood, you need to imagine different kind of ways to really touch the people and make them feel concerned about it, Sakhem calls it strategy. He is not wrong actually.

Here, being a VHV is a responsibility. The chosen one will be our ears, mouth and eyes when TLC’s away. This person will have to deliver basic health care informations and basic prevention, will have to keep TLC’s team up to date about the situation in the village, will be a key person, essential one. For us and for the village.

Knowing that, it’s really important that the villager understand the meaning of what Sakhem is talking about. What better way than repeating the same thing in different manners? Playing with the people, turning it into something serious and funny at the same time?
For that, Sakhem will be your man.
Villagers are really concentrated, focused on what he is saying.

Smiling, laughing, back to serious, laughing, serious, smiling, grave faces, smiling again, clapping, taking pictures of the scene with their mobile phone, quiet and so on.

And then, suddenly (I would probably won’t say “suddenly” if I my Khmer would be sufficient, but.. even after three it’s really not, that is why, for me, because I didn’t understood a single word, it was “suddenly”), all the present persons have pointed a young woman sitting behind the first row.

I guess you understand what comes next : she is our new VHV.
Her smile was just beautiful, a huge one, a bright one. I “knew” her, I mean.. I saw her the first time I came on the clinic.
That is one of the other thing really appealing for me: time after time I meet the same people (not always of course), I recognize them and the feeling is that, in a certain way, they entered in my life. And yes, they did actually. They are a part of me, as they are a part of TLC’s staff. They will always be.

In the second village, which is the farthest one TLC serves on the River, Preah Kanlong, same story. 
Chantrea warns the village with the megaphone.

Sakhem and Phertra have set up the “meeting room”, a tree to enjoy shadow, its roots used as chairs, an old abandoned spirit house turned into a presentation wall, and the reunion could start.

Once again, everybody seems to enjoy it and to really appreciate what Sakhem is saying.

While I’m taking pictures, a mother tries to get my attention, she obviously wants me to photograph her daughter. I did. She laughs. They always do!

Few minutes later a man joins us, he will be the VHV.

Smiling. Of what I could guess, some of his fellow were teasing him. Or anyway, it looked like that.

The day after, we went up to Okalev, very small village with only 15 families.
The sky was a little bit grey – dark – full of rain – nasty. We could smell the storm coming.

I have to say that I loved the colors, the clouds, the sky…. Amazing…
In Cambodia, as Jon says, the sky always looks dramatic when it’s cloudy. There is this little something that changes everything, have a look on the picture and tell me whether you agree or not.

We had the time to start the meeting outside but right after we’ve welcomed our new VHV, rain started.

Small rain at the very beginning but it turned into a heavy rain in few seconds. Lightning, thunders, the storm was just above our heads.

It reminded me when I was a child with my cousins at my grand parents’s house. We went out during a small rain, to chase snails… NOT TO EAT (all the french people don't eat snails.. I don't!!) !!! just for fun and the rain turned into a storm, we all were stuck at my uncle and aunt’s home, hundreds meters further. We took shelter in a small child house, waited to be rescued… When we went back, finally safe thanks to my so courageous uncle (yes… I was a little bit afraid so my uncle was my, our saviour!) we were all drenched!
For years I haven’t think about this story but for years each time we had heavy rain or storms I was used to think about it. This day, thousands miles away from La Boissière-École (my grand parents’s town) and from France I thought about this family story, in Cambodia. I felt so good.
Little bit less happy when Pherthra explained me that she was afraid because here, they don’t have any lightning rod and every year people strucked by lightning and died…

We have waited until the rain stops, I mean stop enough to go back to the clinic. During this time, Sakhem and the villager did the social map, but I’ll explain this later, in an other blog, so… I’m sorry to tell you this but if you want to see the photos, you will have to continue to the next episode and read “ Please... draw me a... ” blog.... And the funny part was when the map was done. Sakhem started a game. Everyone had to recite the name of 10 fishes without taking a breath!!!! They just couldn’t succed and it was really hilarious! They began, and they couldn’t finish it! So… what was left? Bursting out laughing!!
After a little while, we went back to the clinic. Drenched but happy.

At the end of this day, we had three new VHVs.

The last few weeks, Phertra continued this mission and our VHV team on the Stung Sen River is now complete.

It’s always better when we are together – it’s always better when we work together.
From now on, will do better than ever.