On broken plates and beauty 


One of the images I took a mental snapshot of was a broken China plate on the side of the road. It was crisp and white with the rose pattern standing out. A glimpse of beauty in amongst the rubbish and dirt of the slum.

It is an image I can’t shake and it sums up the contradictions of Cambodia for me so far … beautiful but broken, flowers amongst the rubbish, stark white catching my eye from the dirt.

So here are some mental snapshots of beautiful broken dishes that attempt to give some impression of Cambodia for me so far.

Singing worship with the centre staff this morning in English and Khmer two languages joined in praise together.

The brand new housing area built to provide cheap and safe housing for the slum occupants – and the slum houses moved just over that fence as they couldn’t afford it.

The dilemma faced by the centre staff of turning away families in need as they are full.

The children at this centre who have barely spoken or interacted with their peers.

The story of a young mum whose house was taken away by the government and now she lives in the provinces feeding pigs … While her sons live in the city. She travels every weekend to do their washing and then returns to the country.

The story of how the families at the centre wanted a party so they have all saved to put one on.

The gentle hospitality of a woman offering me fruit and water in the universal custom that means “welcome to my home” and yet her home is but a room.

There is heartbreak and beauty here – I am constantly on the verge of tears and constantly amazed by how much is being achieved in creating a community.

There are many questions too, so many questions, too many to list here.

It is broken but yet still beautiful – a rose patterned plate amongst the rubbish.