People say when you are taking a trip the actual trip begins long before you arrive at your destination. There is a point somewhere between the decision “I am going” and the actual arrival when the whole adventure becomes real for us. When our imaginations fly off to the wonderful locations we are soon to visit, or the exciting business trip to NY we are soon to embark on, or the family get away that we have been putting off for years.
For some the reality locks in when you buy the ticket, for some not until you step on the airplane. For me it all becomes real when I begin to plan my wardrobe. Seriously, once my concerns turn to what shoes should I takes and what outfits would be best – there is no turning back. I am on my way.
Even now as I prepare for an adventure of a lifetime – living in Phnom Penh for 3 months working with the most extraordinary Cambodian Children’s Fund – my thoughts turn to “what should I wear”. My mother was quite a cloths horse so I was well trained for decades and despite desperate attempts to change this behavior when I was a young politically correct activist I remain unchanged and simply embrace my silly need to be wearing the right outfit and the right shoes for any occasion. I am without judgment my mother’s daughter.
The ironic humor of it all does not escape me, as I am going to be working with some of the most amazing little beings on the planet. Children who have learned to survive against all odds living in extreme poverty grazing the toxic dumps of Phnom Penh.
These kids are lucky to have one shirt and many have never had a pair of shoes. These are kids that have already grown old with the responsibility of scavenging to take care of themselves and their families.
Kids whose view of life has been down a black hole of violent poverty and a never ending cycle of struggle. Kids who live and work not just on the edge of a garbage dump but on the very edge of life.
Kids who when they enter the CCF program get real food, real care and yes real little outfits – T shirts and uniforms they wear proudly and new little TOMS shoes fitted just for them.
This does put my personal wardrobe crisis in perspective.
To say I am excited to be a part of CFF is an understatement. To say I feel privileged to be a part of a team so dedicated goes without saying.
Maybe I focus on my outfits because I have no clue of how I can help make an impact in such an environment, maybe because I have no control over what I am about to experience and no way to really prepare for the world I am stepping into.
Maybe that is part of the reason I focus on having the ideal “international volunteer” wardrobe. Perhaps I cling to the challenges of packing because it is the small part of this amazing experience that I can control.
In any case, for me “the journey has begun.”
And for sure, if anyone has traveled in South East Asia and has wardrobe suggestions – send them my way.
Find more stories from Ardice Farrow’s experiences in ‘Ardice Abroad’.