Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet Milo!

Hi All,

We just came back from a trip out to the Tonle Sap Lake where we spent a week doing maintenance and upgrades on two of the floating clinics that belong to the The Lake Clinic (TLC). The clinics have now just completed their second year of service and have helped many, many children and families improve and maintain their health with the medical and dental care provided by TLC in these remote regions of Cambodia.

The clinics have fared well in their two years of service but needed some minor maintenance and the replacement of a few taps and switches which were easily done. One unforeseen issue that has been part the learning curve of working with some of the unknowns has been keeping the local wildlife of birds, rats, mice, snakes, lizards, huge centipedes and reams of other crawling and flying insects from colonizing the clinics. Along the tops of the four walls there are open areas that are protected by security bars and grilles to secure the clinics when the medical teams lock up and leave. However security bars and grilles provide the perfect perch for flocks of little birds fleeing bad weather and looking for food. We bird proofed these openings with wire mesh as well as any openings in the floors around pipes and wiring to keep the onslaught of wildlife at bay. Another area that was of concern was the open area along the top of the bathroom wall where the walls meet the roof,. Having a shower after dark was an adventure as within minutes of turning on the light and starting a shower the insect invasion would begin and soon your refreshing shower, at the end of a hot sweaty day, would be shared by the flying and crawling hordes covering walls, shower curtain and washing down the drain under foot in the shower base. We rectified this with small mesh wire so all is well there too.

While out on the lake we also paid a visit to the school. Last March we implemented the solar powered chicken pilot project to take advantage of the above mentioned insect population. The chickens got off to a great start happily pecking away at the insects after dark and when we returned 8 months later the 5 chickens had multiplied to 25. The attraction of insects to the light seemed to account for about 40 to 50% of the diet of the chickens. Then we entered the cold weather in early December and Jan. and 10 chicks died straight away due to cold and then another six. We have to think about an incubator system for the cooler weather but for now we will put a hold on the project in that location due to access and lack of consistent interpretation. So we will try it at another place that is easier to access while we work the bugs out…or in, as is the case, then try again on the lake.

Milo the boat driver
In our trips out to the lake we have formed many relationships; one of our favourites is with Milo. He is a young boy who lives across the “street” from the clinic, this being the channel of water that runs through the village. When we ask Milo how old he is his answer is “ot dung” or I do not know, we think he is about eight. His family is very poor and he, his parents and four siblings live basically on a floating platform with a couple of walls. Milo has many skills and he helps his parents by going out fishing which contributes to the family income, he is always ready to lend a hand with whatever we are working on and is a super quick learner. We try to get Milo to be
Milo paddles in family laundry pot
interested in school but he just laughs; he is his own person and loves to both work and play hard. His older and younger siblings attend school but Milo marches to his own fast and energetic drum. Milo is agile as a cat, walking along railings and on the edge of his boat without fear. He can shinny up the smallest of poles like a monkey, his fish like abilities on or around the water and boats are amazing and his adaptation to his environment is perfect. His laughter is infectious and loud. While we were there on a previous trip he was hired as a guide and boat driver for a research survey. If the family boat is being used and Milo wants to come and visit us no problem he just jumps into the family laundry pot and paddles over with his hands. Milo is an endearing, strong little character to say the least. His favourite English words are “Oh My God”…as a matter of fact they are his only english words???

Till next time, all the best to you and yours,
Rick and Adrianne