$3 a day. It’s a wage which seems incomprehensible in Australia, and this week – with the volunteer numbers diminishing to just 6 – it got very real, very quickly. There’s not a lot you can do with $3 a day, particularly when $1 is deducted for rent before it even reaches our hands. What we have learnt though, is how to be creative.
We eat rice. Lots of rice. In fact, if anyone ever offers me a bowl of rice again, I cannot guarantee that I’ll respond in a way fitting of a civilised person. Despite my lack of love for rice and vegetables lately though, I do consider myself extremely lucky to be able to come home each night knowing that I will be eating a meal. This is a luxury that many Cambodian’s do not have, and it should never be considered a luxury in the first place.
Oh yes, back to the rice. Do you remember the Robin Williams movie “Hook” – you know, the one where he is Peter Pan? Well, there is a scene in that film where he’s eating dinner with the lost boys and they have an imaginary feast of every conceivable delicious cuisine they could come up with. A bite of roast chicken here, a giant scoop of ice-cream and cake there…. This is a scene that plays out in my mind 3 times a day lately, and I have to say that whilst it wasn’t working at the start, I now feel that occasionally my imagination is tricking my stomach for a few seconds!
I don’t know what breeds creativity or fosters imagination in the minds of adults, but I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say from my experience recently, things which kill it are television, computer games and dull conversations with people you don’t really want to be talking to. So today, why not switch off the TV, shut the kids playstation down and sit and have a stimulating conversation with your friends or family for a few hours. It’s incredibly refreshing!!!
It has been quite astounding witnessing the creativity of the villagers and children here, but it’s now starting to really make sense. They have no power, they have no games. All they have are kites made of bamboo and scraps of plastic and good old fashioned conversation – with us, teachers or families. Necesity is the mother of all invention, and these kids need a lot, and have very little… If we could come up with a way to really foster and celebrate innovation in the developing world, I have a sneaking suspicion that these nations could certainly teach us a thing or two.
What are you ideas about how we could continue to promote creativity and imagination after kids reach high school? Our current system seems to kill it off in my view…. Comment below 🙂