This is Douk, a business owner I have met in Siem Reap.
I first met him when he interrupted a lunch the other day. As you may do when someone stops a conversation I told him we would catch up another day. I like to keep my word so today we did.
I had a ‘not sure when it will happen but it will’ date with a total stranger. What more could you want!
We had a drink together, I was naughty and had a beer but as he was in working hours he declined and stuck with a soda.
We discussed his life and the stories behind how he came to have this little office of his. We talked about the countries I had visited and I was amazed he knew the population and distance of them all from here. We talked about family and everything in between.
He helped me edit my photos (like this cool dude above), asking about the project I am doing here with Hands On Journeys, ‘Australians’ he said, ‘They always help our children and I thank them’. Other tables around started asking about it too, they were intrigued and I felt had a genuine interest in getting involved with making a difference.
Douk asked if I could take his photo as he liked mine, sadly without my camera, we settled for a snap on my mac. In hindsight, I stupidly assumed he would know what the computer was doing…
I purchased a book from his business to learn more about his history. He scurried off and told me to wait. He returned with a Cambodian Dictionary and this Level 2 Cambodian book ‘A gift’ he replied with a smile, ‘A thank you from Cambodia’
‘Akun, Akun’ I cried out amazed by the generosity (and one of the few Khmer words I know – Thank you). That certainly is #PayItForward in real action and I will be following on from his lead again in a couple of days when we head to the capital.
I settled the bill and left, we pencilled in a rough lunch date for next year.
I guess the thing I like the most about Douk is that he started his own business to support a family. He carries around all his books day in and day out. He hustles with charm and has an interesting story. He clearly wants to learn and know about the world. He has a passion that I love to find in anyone.
He also tragically has no arms, caused by a war he never wanted. The remains of those bombs litter his country and took away the very things I have typed this out with.
If he can have the smile, strength, will and power to start a business and make his own future then we all can.
I can’t wait to our next date to speak with him in Cambodian, the language he in a roundabout way will have taught me.
I guess sometimes those people we initially ignore have something much more to give us than we ever thought possible. We also have just as much we can give back.
But only if we choose too…
I have been lucky enough to be a guest with Hands on Journeys on their first tour here in Cambodia/Vietnam and am feeling damn excited by everything we are doing here. All opinions however are mine (and Douk’s!) own…