Home is where the heart is, as the famous expression goes. Implying that no matter where you are if your heart feels at rest in a place you are at home. At peace with all of your surroundings finding contentment with your life. This is what home can be for those who have everything taken care of. There are no worries about how you will sleep or what you will eat. So, for some, home is where you can find shelter and food, which, is not easy to come by.
Sunday, November 28th, Tyler and I had a show at a place called Homeland. An orphanage in Battambang that takes kids from the streets and gives them a place to live and a chance to go to school. Shelter for those who really need it. New opportunities to those who regale in the squalor of inadequacy. This is one of those amazing places in the world where you see the effectiveness of human kindness giving new hope and building the future. So For Tyler and myself this was an incredible opportunity to perform.
We got to Homeland late in the afternoon. The orange sun already fading into the crimson hue of the early evening. When we got to the orphanage we looked for the place that we were going to perform. Seeing no applicable stage we decided that it would be best to perform in the grass. Right underneath the shade from the buildings. There was a problem however. The cows that graze in the pasture though that this spot was a fine place to graze. That it was their spot and they weren’t going to move for anyone. In a short moment some of the students came rushing to the cows and shooed them away to the back of the pasture. The kids seemed so acclimated to the task showing that they had done this many times before. As we waited for the sound system to be set up, Tyler and I started playing with the students. Tyler showing them the wonders of the accordion while I was the newest theme park ride. I Grabbed two kids at a time and spun them around in circles. Lifting them up high into the air and giving them wingless flight to lighten their souls.
With the sound system ready it was time to start the show. Only half of the students were there that day, but the entire faculty of the school was there in full force to watch our show. The show was another paradigm of the wonders of laughter. Having everyone from staff to student smiling, laughing, and showing nothing but sincere joy. Giving us pure reassurance that we are doing something right in the world.
After our show we had an hour to wait for our tuktuk to pick us up from the school. So we wallowed in the serendipitous experience of playing, laughing, and giving. We played games, sang silly songs, and just ran around being silly. At one point I had 4 kids playing catch with me all at the same time. Forever in a constant stream of red flashy juggling clubs. At another moment I had five of the kids climbing up on me. Using me like their playground jungle gym.
Tyler was walking around taking lots of pictures and talking with the staff. Finding out that they don’t only run the orphanage but have a program for street kids in the city called “The Street is not my Home.” Which gives street children a chance to have a safe place to be and an opportunity to learn.
As our time wound down at homeland and the tuktuk driver reached the gates a small girl came up to me, smiling. In her hands she held a beautiful Cambodian scarf. I asked if it was for me and she politely nodded her head, holding the scarf with both of her hands. I gingerly took the scarf and packed it in my backpack not knowing what it was for. I thanked the girl and went off to ask one of the teachers what it was for. The teacher told me that it was a thank you present from the students for coming to do the show. She also told me that they make the scarves there as a means to help fund the orphanage. This new facet of what the scarf was made my heart flutter. I knew that there would be no other souvenir that I could buy or thing I could see in Cambodia that would mean as much to me. I always love hand made presents, and this one will be a constant reminder of all my experiences here in Cambodia. The good and the bad. The ones overflowing with joy and the ones sunken with melancholy. I am forever touched by the people of this place and hope that I can come back again to share new experiences. Create new stories. But most of all give unto this amazing community the gift of laughter and hope the smiles stay long after I’m gone.