Sunday, 27 September 2009


I love butterflies and always have done.
Butterflies often appear in my art work and it must be their beauty and fragility that inspires me.
This week I received an email from a friend and she named the email 'butterflies'; she had a look at my blog and liked my stories about Cambodia.
The email didn't mention anything about butterflies at all, but I thought about it for a while, maybe my stories gave her butterflies in her tummy, I hope so.
Isn't that a weird expression in English... "butterflies in your tummy", poor things, I can't imagine that would be a nice place to flutter around in!
The day before I left Wat Opot to go back to New Zealand, Wayne and us volunteers were having our evening meal in the outdoor gazebo and a little butterfly landed right behind me on the wall.
It sat there for a while and then flew away, but it came back time after time and again landed behind me on the wall.
We all started to notice and then Wayne said:"someone's soul is coming to say goodbye to you".
Wat Opot is such a special and spiritual place,I am totally convinced that miracles happen there even in the shape of a butterfly.
I am back now in New Zealand and in a society where miracles are sometimes a bit harder to spot.
The shopping malls are getting bigger and bigger and when I try to do my weekly groceries I feel bombarded by loud music and advertising and people trying to sell me things I really don't need.
In Cambodia people also tried to sell me things I didn't need, but for many of them it was plain survival and to have some food to eat at the end of the day.
Many times since I have been back I have felt frustrated and wanted to shake people up around me and say to them: just share something of all the wealth you have, just a little bit is enough to make a difference in a life only 12 hours flying from here.
I share my stories, show my photographs and make my "saving piggies" for Cambodia and hope that a little butterfly creates a miracle in the hearts around me.
I know it will and I have seen already some of it by way of a lovely email from someone who bought one of my fund raising paintings of 'Trade Me' (the Kiwi e-bay), three bags of soft toys given to sell for fundraising from a colleague of Henk and the sewing from my students for the children of Wat Opot.
I know its not my doing, but God that changes hearts; I just have to learn to be patient and let the Holy Spirit work... maybe in the shape of a butterfly!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The power of art

The first week at Wat Opot I met the art group, mostly teenage boys and girls working with Hoeut,the art teacher.
The big project was the mural on the school wall and the mural was nearly completed only some ants needed to be painted and Pisey was working one day with the other boys to complete the mural.
I had a closer look at what they were doing, being interested in everything to do with art and Pisey greeted me in English and we started talking.
Pisey is really involved in his art and so he and I planned a painting session together for that afternoon.
We were sitting in the gazebo near the pond and I was amazed how quickly and confident his painting came along and the ease in which he used his colours and brushes.
I got to know Pisey better over the following weeks and we both shared our love for art.
One afternoon when I was tidying up the work room, Pisey came and asked me if I wanted to see his art work and I felt very privileged that he wanted to share his art portfolio with me, because paintings and drawings are very personal and it takes a bit of courage to show your work to someone else.
Pisey's art work is very broad and he has many different styles and used many different techniques.
Hoeut has taught him well.
Pisey made a beautiful pencil drawing of his father and really captured his likeness and his personality and that is not an easy task.
One colour full drawing caught my attention and I asked Pisey what the drawing was about.
He told me that one night he was dreaming about his mother and in his dream he and his sister Srey Lek were holding his mothers hand and they were walking towards the village were they once lived and they had to cross the river to reach the village.
The next day Pisey did the drawing.
Pisey told me that he wanted to become a famous artist and he wanted his mother to be proud of him.
When I looked at the drawing I could see all the sadness and all the love Pisey wanted to share as a tribute to his mum and words could not have been more power full.
Pisey lost both his parents through Aids and he looked after his sister and mother when she was very sick till her death at Wat Opot.
More of Pisey work is on the website under stories:

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Tai Ming and I

Tai Ming is a little girl living at Wat Opot with her mother.
Tai Mings mother has AIDS and Tai Ming has HIV.
Tai Mings mother walks very slow with a walking stick around the grounds at WAT OPOT and she doesn't communicate with or smiles at other people much. She lives in her own world now.
Tai Ming doesn't talk much either and doesn't attend school, she also lives much in her own world.
Tai Ming has not put on the anti viral drugs by the doctor; Wayne doesn't know why this decision hasn't made yet, because she is not well and she gets reocurring skin infections,like herpes and she is very thin.
Cambodia is not New Zealand,a western country with all the medical services at our fingertips, but a developing country were decisions are sometimes not as clear cut.
The first time I met Tai Ming was very special.
I arrived at WAT OPOT and felt very unsure of what would happen at WAT OPOT and if I could stay there for five weeks.
We had lunch with Wayne and the other volunteers and after lunch everyone left and did their own thing as you would.
That afternoon the New Zealand volunteers organized games for the children and after the rain the games went still ahead in a slighty muddy way!
I was watching the children and volunteers and felt very lonely and far from home and asked why am I here?
Then this little girl came over to me and looked at me with her big eyes and climbed on my lap and nestled herself against me.
She wasn't the most beautiful of the children and her clothing was not the cleanest and nicest either, but when I think back at that moment tears well up in my eyes.
Tai Ming looked deep into my soul and all my fears subsided.
I knew at that moment God send me to WAT OPOT and that my life would never be the same again from the moment Tai Ming climbed on my lap.
The time I have spend at WAT OPOT Tai Ming became my special friend and every morning she came over to the volunteers quarters to see me and say hello.
Tai Ming could say my name Marijke very well and repeated my English perfect.
I loved being with her and she is a very bright little girl eager to learn, we did painting together and reading English picture books.
The day before I left Tai Ming spend a long time with me, cuddled against me as if she knew I was leaving.
The day we left I didn't see her, she wasn't there when we said goodbye to the children,teachers and Wayne.
I hope to see her again,my little soul mate Tai Ming.