A while ago I received Nancy Gilgoff’s teaching schedule and with it was a heart felt message. Nancy has given me her blessing to share this message.
I felt that sharing it was important for two main reasons; 1) It inspired me to try and do a bit more, so the more of us that read it the better, 2) I have just returned from Cambodia and was really impressed and surprised to see how well a third world country takes on these yogic values, because they care about life, the planet and their fellow humans.
Nancy’s message- ‘Recently a new study on climate change was released, and it certainly has gotten my attention. It has dire warnings for all of us that inhabit this planet we call home.
As I’ve struggled to make sense of it all, I found, interestingly, the advice being given by the scientists, for what we as individuals can do to help avert possible catastrophe, sounds very similar to the yoga lifestyle: consume less, become vegetarian even vegan, and do work that supports life or right livelihood, they would say in yoga texts. So actually, all of us receiving this email should already be doing all of these things or at the very least, working to achieve these goals, as they are the among the main precepts of yoga practice.
So whether or not you believe that the earth is heading in a VERY dangerous direction or not, you still, as yogis, are already committed to consuming less, becoming vegetarian, and serving others. So keep practicing………someday you teach……and ALL is coming….
For those of us that would like to “do something,” just in case the scientists are right, it is time to raise our voices. It is happening all over the world. The voice of the people is demanding immediate action from our governments and from the companies that support our lives, to avert possible catastrophic changes on the planet. Our voices are needed now, so please do what you can. It is time for each of us to take action by making the changes necessary in our own lives as well as putting pressure on our communities and leaders, both political and business, to support a green healthy future for all of earths inhabitants. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, we are witnessing the end (finally!!!) to Kali Yuga and the next Satya Yuga will begin. Yipee!!!!!’
Thank you Nancy,
It’s all so damn true!!!
Shortly after reading Nancys email Lucy & I visited Cambodia, a beautiful country but with extreme poverty, yet here they were ‘consuming less, serving others and certainly doing work that supports life or right livelihood’
A few things I was expecting to see on my visit to Siem Reap were Angkor Wat, museums, lots of hard to take poverty, and of course a fair few monks and Buddhist temples! Yes, all these things were here, however, there was so much more.
Siem Reap is a buzzing city and many of the people living in poverty also have missing limbs through land mines. Add in a government that puts very little back into the country from the millions made from Angkor Wat visitors and it’s hard to take.
But this little blog is not about the negative, it’s about the positive.
As tourists and human beings we couldn’t help feel the need to help in some small way where possible, and we got this chance here. All we had to do was have the time of our lives and spend money mindfully in places where it may go a little way to help.
So here is where my surprises started.
The hotel was part of a cooperative with other hotels and restaurants that, not just provide a great service, they educate their staff on having as much of a plastic free hotel as they can, they recycle everything where possible, there are water refill stations, your room water is refilled daily in a big glass bottle with stopper, A percentage of your room fees goes to help local charities one of which I will talk about in a bit.
We all have to eat, Lucy (and I absolutely love to), luckily it turns out Siem Reap has the best quality vegan/vegetarian restaurants I’ve ever eaten in, gluten free options, organic, all locally sourced and some of the happiest staff you will meet.
Take a place like Sister Srey Cafe , here’s a little piece from there website. “Our vision at Sister Srey Cafe is to support young Khmer students who struggle to keep a balance between study and supporting their family. Each staff member is trained in hospitality, English language skills, personal development, health & hygiene and banking. We are a stepping stone to a brighter future and a means for them to have skills and knowledge to approach the world empowered and confident.”
They are also part of a collective of cafes who work together to clean up the area, they work on a refill not landfill project and already have 85 refill stations here and 800 all over Asia, it’s a start. All their food waste goes to local farms to help out. You can search out lots of cafes like this on line, we hired mountain bikes and found it was fun and easy getting on google maps and finding our next place to eat whether it’s a evening meal or coffee and cake!!!!
Walking through one of the market streets Lucy was offered to try a frozen yogurt product, the ones where you get your favourite flavour and add all sorts of other nice stuff to it!!! Anyway,I was talking to the manager, he was telling me he had worked every job here to learn and now it was his job to teach others and make a profit, then proudly told me they had built two houses with the extra profits for farming families who had lost their homes.
Took another clip from the website…..
“Project Y Frozen Yogurt is an educational social enterprise that opened in 2015. We are located in Night Market Street, Siem Reap, and run by university students from the Cambodia Rural Students Trust, an NGO with the mission of breaking the poverty cycle through education. All the profits remain in the NGO so we can sponsor more students and community projects. Beside the financial side, this store plays a very important role in building our students’ confidence and provides us with hands-on business education and experience!! Our students work in six different business departments – including sales, marketing, operations, production, HR and finance – and we rotate between these departments every 6 months, so we get extensive business experience. Our aim is to teach our students business fundamentals, so we can apply these skills for the rest of our lives and become the leaders of tomorrow!!”
Again people thinking about other people it was so heart warming.
Unfortunately there are still a lot of land mines in Cambodia in rural areas and especially on the boarder between Cambodia and Thailand, put there to stop Cambodians escaping into Thailand during the Khmer Rouge time. They are the sort of mine that very rarely kills, they take limbs, made for the purpose of pure fear to keep people in the country. In rural areas of course they have the big anti tank mines as well.
Now for the positive bit, Apopo the Hero rats. These are African rats trained in finding mines. I watched this happen (see photo). As soon as the rats find one they have a good scratch at it, then get a food reward, then move on to the next 2ft by 12 ft of area to be searched. They can do in three hours the same area that takes three men days. This is all charity (not government) funded. They’re using them in many countries now.
They also look very happy and healthy. Apparently African rats are intelligent and much more open to being trained. Your Cambodian rat is not interested he just likes doing ratty stuff I should imagine. And why not!!!!
So in case you are thinking of ever visiting this beautiful country here are a few things not to be missed (I could write all day of what a wonderful time you can have in Cambodia, but I will keep this shortish!)
The temples, it is worthwhile spending a few hours at Angkor National Museum first to find out the history behind the early Khmer kings and civilisation, they went from Hinduism to Buddhism but excepted both as one people.
The war museum is tough but well worth it, it’s worth having the guide, he does it for free and is passionate about it, just left him a good tip.
We are so lucky, as westerners, to be able to travel and see these places and can often feel guilty about our privileged position, but if we all just have a little look into where we are going and ask ourselves ‘is there any way we can spend our money more wisely and help at the same time?’ if yes then it has to be good.
If you have held the interest to read all this then I’m sure you’re doing your bit and more for the planet so thank you.