Isabelle Clement recently arrived in Cambodia as part of the SALT program — Serving And Learning Together — of the Mennonite Central Committee. Read more about SALT at the MCC website. Here is a letter Isabelle sent us on December 14:
It has been one month since moving into my host family’s house, 5 weeks since getting out of quarantine, and 7 weeks since leaving DIA. The MCC Cambodia team has welcomed us with open arms and has provided the support needed especially with uncertainty here.
During this month, I have gone on a bike tour of Phnom Penh, experienced the process of silk making on Silk Island, visited many pagodas including Wat Phnom, attended a Buddhist funeral, drank Khmer coffee (condensed milk with coffee poured on top), learned elementary level Khmer, ordered and eaten food at “haang bai” (food cart on the street), started working at Peace Bridges Organization, attended a women in leadership training in Kampong Thom province, and bonded with my host family over cooking and card games.
The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, is expanding with more foreign business investment and Khmer locals moving for work. I live and work in Phnom Penh Thmei which is one of the expansions of the city. It is still being developed and there are many dirt roads and construction but overall it has a slower pace than the central part of the city. I have enjoyed this on my bike rides to and from work, on the weekend when I walk to get a passion fruit and soursop smoothie, and being able to be immersed in the culture without a hub of expats.
Within the past 2 weeks there has been an increase in COVID cases and the government has reset the restrictions for businesses and gatherings. The other SALTer and I had to quarantine briefly for caution but now we are out of quarantine and are safe and healthy.
Thank you for all of your support. I could not have done this without you. I am creating a website about my adventures here and will inform you when it’s up.
Thank you again!