Sugar, Spice and Everything Logical

For a society whose children pretty much memorize the four Prum Viha Thor (roughly translated as the four Brahma’s houses, or good knowledge to house your mind), and for a country which has, through toil and sweat, built literally hundreds of enormous statues symbolizing those four principles (the Bayon Temple, everyone?), the lack of its practice, even in the most “cultured” of citizens, is astonishing.

Meta, Karuna, Obekha, Mutita.
Meta, Karuna, Obekha, Mutita.
Meta, wait, what do these mean again?

When recited too often, with not much explanation, and even less examples in reality have made these concepts too abstract, so abstract that they remain mere letters strung on a paper, rather than practices where you mind should reside in.

Now try blanking your mind, and take a long look at the people you see for a day:

  • How many of them scowl at passer-bys in traffic with their brows knotted, eyes suspiciously screwing, with a barely noticeable sigh? I’m absolutely certain that you’ve been one of them. Or maybe you are looking at these scowling commuters with a scowl firmly fixed upon your face right now! Would you feel this annoyed if you tried to be a bit more understanding?
    “Yes, he’s cutting the line. But then again, he’s probably never had a proper education and was never really taught to think about the little things he does on the road.”
  • How many of the gossips you have overheard would be non-existent if only these people were more open to the possibility that *gasp* maybe they are not the only credible judge in the universe? That others are entitled to have their own motives, struggles and choice as well?
    “She’s so fat…. and that is probably because she feels too helpless in trying to change the way things are.”

When the news of a tragic young teen suicide reaches the public, you bet your ass there are going to be an unending stream of comments which resemble these:

“That kid had everything one could wish for. What a shame she killed herself! Such a waste of space.”

“She was so young, so fresh. I just don’t understand. She shouldn’t have done it.”

“Just a spoilt kid who didn’t know how to handle life.”

Now, how many of the “judges” put the efforts in trying to understand the circumstantial evidence, motives, and influences of the case before handing out their verdicts?

This is an unpopular opinion, but I believe even the government deserves our empathy. What sort of fucked up thing happened to make some of them this corrupted, selfish and so woefully incompetent? As much as I want to dish on the 2017 New Year road sign, if you really think about it, how many competent people are really working for the government? What were the alternatives they had? Or maybe… Maybe that was all they had learnt. Some time before this new year, an official ended his/her day with a sense of pride in his/her chest, believing he/she just made a great contribution to the celebration of his nation’s coming new year.

Of course, at this point, many simply give up on being empathetic altogether because it makes them wushy-smushy. It makes sense that when you are constantly trying to glimpse from others’ viewpoints, there’s this threat of losing your own footing, and the sight from your stance. That’s the risk of not putting your equally valid wants and needs on the agenda.

If you just charge straight from empathy to decision without adding more digits, you might find yourself transformed by your decisions (or lack thereof) into a passive little weed, swaying hither and tither by the wind of people’s perspective, unable to hold a firm stance and introduce any change.

  • That old cocky guy who cut you off in traffic might never learn he’s not as smooth on the road as he thinks he is
  • Your overweight friend who keeps chomping down an alarming amount of weight might never have the push to finally don the gym armor and work out
  • Kids might just get influenced by romanticized suicide (born out of too much empathy, I dare say), and choose to reach the light at the end of the tunnel by themselves instead of braving the road bumps when some minor inconvenience happens
  • and probably the worst of all, our government might just stay slothy, corrupted and continue to produce eye-jarring designs year after year after year.


This is exactly when logic comes into play.

After thoroughly (as thoroughly as you can) analyzing the problem from others’ standpoint, zoom out, and zoom back into your own flesh just to make sure you don’t become that boneless little weed. Many nice people run the risk of burning out by being overly compassionate, helping people all the time without taking their own needs and wants into account (we can’t all be Buddha, you know).

Some altruists might claim to be eating just for the sake of having energy to do noble services to others. Well, wouldn’t it be a nicer world to live in, if those altruists also enjoy eating and still able to help people?

Come back into your own perspective. What do you think of this? How does this action affect your wellbeing? For example, you might see where an abusive friend of yours is coming from. They might have had a terribly abusive childhood. Their efforts in building a codependent squad might stem from their insecurity and abandonment issues. Yes, you can see all these motives and past heartbreaks, but how about your side of the sob story? How have you been affected by their actions? Are you willing to put up with their problematic behavior?

And after that, assume you are a floating eye connected wirelessly to a mob of consciousness somewhere looking down at the issue. In case you didn’t catch that totally awesome simile, it’s to look at the issue more objectively (well as objectively as your human flesh allow, anyway). This is done to determine the best course of action which would be in the best interest of the both of you. By doing so, you might:

  • end up creating a workshop, or a social media campaign which aims to educate older people of the little do’s and don’ts on the road.
  • having a heart-to-heart with your friend, and maybe also become her gym buddy.
  • donating to mental illness organizations who provide consultation for suicidal folks.
  • ending a friendship on a relatively good term
  • or when next year comes rolling around, you might try to create a petition for the government to hold a bid for the best design firms for their logo because you’re sure even you can beat last year’s record.

Or… you can just do nothing. But this doing of nothing, laced with empathy is, I believe, still better than doing nothing laced with bitterness and hatred. Buddhism says that to hold onto anger is like palming a burning charcoal. Continue doing it, you burn your palm. Throw it at people, it scorches their bodies. Why not just throw it into the bonfire of life and invite others to join the dance?

In this case, at least one person in the world is less annoyed (hint, hint, it’s you). Now, go get that wall of empathy built. You’re already one fourth of the way to completing your house of mind!


For the Sake of Shakespeare, Cross Speedreading out of Your Resolution

Anyone who has tried to build their reading habit has had this one thought, “What if I can read it faster?” and then your mind launches into this dreamy fantasy of you breezing through War and Peace as if it were a boring celebrity magazine with a huge library of books that you’ve finished in the recent years.

It certainly is a sweet fantasy because to be completely honest, reading takes time, a lot of time, the same time that can be spent sleeping, earning money, or hanging out with your family at your back porch.
But should you entertain this fantasy? Should you want to read faster?

I think not. I mean, some things should be sped up for the sake of your sanity, i.e., reading assigned textbooks that were actually written by your professors, but meaningful activities should not be sped up! Do you wish to be at the end of your life, and say with a self-satisfied smile, “Phew, now that’s a quick life. I’m glad I got that over.”

If you have the urge to speed read through your current book, then either you’re reading the wrong way, or the wrong book. It takes time to dig depth and forge intimacy. It doesn’t matter how soon you can breeze through a book, it’s the impact of the book upon your life that counts. Books are not trophy for you to hang upon the wall.

“But I can actually remember the essential information from the book I’ve speed read, so speed reading is not that bad” you said. Well, does that matter? Information can be looked up pretty easily in this age. Books are supposed to make you think, to make you evaluate your life, to see things in a new light. Information gained from books might be enough for you to survive final exams, but to add flavors to your life? That requires more than a few simple hours of leafing through pages. It demands digestion, comparison, and explanation. It demands that you should have an intimate dialogue with the author through the work and ask questions, life-changing questions to your assumptions. And that simply cannot be achieved through speed reading.


Don’t fall into your ego’s trap and try to surf your way through reading just to increase the amount on your “read” list. And if you’re halfway through the trap already, well, ask yourself, of all the hundred books you’ve boasted of having read, how many can you really recall? How many still emits a warmth in your heart just by thinking about it? Because great books? Great books that you’ve thoroughly read on the pages and between the lines? They stay with you. They might not always float through your consciousness, but just like a beautiful childhood memory, they will visit you from time to time and leave a trail of perfume scents on its wake.

“But.. but, this book is too long. It’s 700 pages! How can I possibly enjoy reading it slowly?” you ask. Well, if it’s a great book, you will have to bear it. Great lives have boring period and great books have boring sections. Would you rather read 3 mediocre, plot-driven books that you are likely to forget 2 months from now instead? That’s like wishing to have 3 acquaintances whose names you will only remember for a week instead of a close friend who knows all your woes and happiness. A deep friendship takes lots of time and struggle to form but once it’s established, it adds so much more value to your life than three acquaintances whom you occasionally party with. Books are the same. If you really wish to gain wisdom from the compacted thought of a person in the form of a book, to savor the enjoyment of pacing a new world, then I’d suggest you to not speed read. Take your time. Look at the cover. Spend time with the characters. Study their motives. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Appreciate the author’s way of constructing a new world through a dozen squiggles on the page. Soak in the sunshine of metaphors. Now, even if you’re not big on fiction, you can do the same with non-fictions. Don’t just pace through the book. Read it and spend some time turning the concept over. Prod it from several different angles. Draw your own examples. I assure you, reading is much more satisfying and helpful in the long run that way.

The irony here is that, as you spend more time soaking up books in the appropriate pace for you to comprehend, you will actually increase your reading skills and be able to read faster. Don’t believe me? Read a few of these blog posts about the flaws of speed reading techniques and do your own research!

Say Hello to Ambiversion

Although I hate being labelled as much as the next 90’s kid, there come times when you discover a word and find yourself hugely relieved and validated- as in, “I knew I was not the only one to miss winning ឆ្គិះសត្វ and watching badly-translated cartoons in the morning this much”. *Hint hint*, the label, 90’s kids, anyone?

There is also another label that recently made its way into the cold bottom of my heart and snuggled in close. And that label is ambivert.

For those of you who are not sure, an extrovert is defined as someone who actually get energy (mental and physical) from being around people. They mostly get their inspiration from interacting with things/people outside of themselves.
In contrast, introverts get energy from reflecting. Large social gatherings sap their energy, and they think best when they’re left alone.

But then there are people, like me, who like to spend time alone (very much) but also have no problem getting excited for a huge event. And those people are called ambivert.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s obvious no one can be strictly extroverted or introverted since it’s a continuum. We’re all ambiverts, somewhere in between, to a certain degree.

However, if you, like me, who like parties, but also have down days. Who like to talk to new people, but sometimes would rather binge-watch a show for three days straight. If after several attempts at the 16-personality test, and you still get like 52% extrovert, then you, my friend is quite strictly an ambivert.

Here are some social life hacks I’ve found that suit the ambivert personality and can hopefully give you some ideas:

1. Seasonal fog:
There are times when you just want to get out and party every single day. Then there are times when you want to wrap yourself up in a big blanket and not meet a single soul for a month. That’s what I call seasonal fog. You just have to let go and accept that it’s part of your cycle. The moon has days when it’s full and days when it’s not. You’re also part of nature; it’s only normal to have your own cycle as well. I find it very helpful to just accept and go with the flow. Feeling social? Let’s click “going” to all those Facebook social invitations. Feeling introverted? Time to lost yourself in the glories of shows your friends have been nagging for you to see for months.

2. Social quota:
Apart from the seasonal fog, most of the time, you are both introverted and extroverted in the same freaking day. You might get up, full of energy, ready to socialize. Then 6pm comes, and suddenly the thought of you rotting in your coffin is more tolerable than running into an acquaintance and having to make small talks.
And that is perfectly acceptable. Try to observe your daily social energy pattern and you’ll come up with a quota time soon enough. For me, it’s mostly at 6pm. Schedule dates and meetings when you know your social quota will be full. And put all those writing, and reflecting activities when your social quota is down! Win, win.
3. Gathering with a large group of strangers:
When you are contemplating if you should join a new social gathering with complete strangers, it’s helpful to ask yourself if you’d have a common goal/interest to discuss or not. I bet if it’s just a casual party where everyone is there to get drunk, then you might not find yourself all that comfortable in repeating the same “Hi, how are you?” to ten different strangers. Make sure the group of strangers have a common purpose. Maybe it’s an art gathering, or social politic café. I find myself extremely charged whenever I get to talk to strangers who have the same concern/common interest. Also, if the place has a dog, you’re good to go.
4. Party:
Maybe, I’m being in my comfort zone here, but sometimes it’s great to be comfortable, you know. Parties can sometimes be your best goddamn time, or your worst cringe fest because you will be meeting all these beautiful, interesting or down-right crazy people, and what should you do? For me, I like to make it absolutely sure that I either have a close friend with me, or that more than 30% of the attendants are my acquaintances, or again, that there’s a dog there.

Well, there you go! Small tips that have made it much easier to not judge myself for my crazy social energy spikes and fall. Would appreciate it if you could also give me some of your coping strategies as well!

Worshipping Idols

“You’re so cool, idol. I love you.”

“I’ve seen you in that video today. So idol!”

“I. D. O. L.”


Here are just variations of how people have been jokingly employing the term “idol” repeatedly for about 300 times to me now. I know it’s all a trend and show because honestly? I’ve done it to quite a few handful of unsuspecting victims too. You have to admit it’s refreshing to be creating this culture of admiring and shamelessly admitting your respect and pride for someone. I mean, what sort of people DO NOT want to be praised for their efforts and hard work? However, just like with many things, if done wrong, this mere idolizing can mean serious trouble because if you have not noticed already, idol doesn’t just mean someone whom you have considerable admiration for, it also means this.

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 6.07.34 PM Yeah, that’s right. It also means something that you pray as part of your religion. If there’s one thing I know for sure about this implication, it is this, you think of someone as FAR, FAR above you- this enlightened know-all being who’s leisurely hanging out in the clouds spewing one genius work after another without so much as a sweat. Lowly earth-worms like you can never aspire to be half that successful.
So what do you do? You idolize them. You say, oh, he’s born a genius. That’s why. She’s been doing it for 10 years; of course, she’s fluent in it. I can never ever be that committed. Oh, you know, his mind is extraordinary. It just can’t be explained.  No, of course, he doesn’t have any flaw. There’s nothing that she can’t do; maybe save for being a failure.

You call them gods. You do whatever it takes to convince yourself that no matter how much you work, you, a chanced mortal can NEVER achieve that level of excellence.

You know what you’re subconsciously doing by practicing this sort of idolizing? You’re setting a huge air cushion ready for your future fall. Instead of crawling your way to success, you’d rather label that success unattainable; thus, relieving you of any blame for not attempting. And the result? Without the goal of achieving success, instead of practicing, instead of putting in the work and time needed for improvement, you waste your life burrowing from one hole to another, convincing yourself all the way that you can never be a god after all, so why try?

Besides demotivating you to achieve greatness, this idolizing of humans also means you are effectively removing yourself from their friend list. there-are-two-ways-to-dehumanize-someone-by-dismissing-them-and-by-idolizing-them

By idolizing someone, you’re choosing to see them as immortal instead of blood and veined humans with flaws, biases, emotional distress, and childhood trauma (everybody has those; especially artists). That’s why many fans lament about being disillusioned after getting to meet their favorite idol (mostly celebrities).
“I don’t know who he thought he was. He was not all that impressive.”
“She didn’t even know what piece of writing I was quoting! And I’d thought she was smart!”
Well, can you blame them though? You set up this perfect standard for someone, and then blame them for not fitting into the cloud-pacing goddess image that you’ve created for them?

And without leaving room for them to be flawed, to be irrational, to be dumb, you’re effectively cutting all bridges to connect with them on a deeper level. You may be able to hold a decent small talk with them every once in a while, but without giving them the chance to be vulnerable, good luck getting close to them.

Conclusion? I think what I’m trying to get across is this: it’s very tempting to put labels on people, to give them a two-dimensional mask and write them off as perfect or dumb, but humans aren’t nearly always so neat, are they? Before calling someone your idol again, ask yourself, am I merely respecting one aspect of their life, or am I effectively shining their statue and putting it on my shrink?

White Pailin Rose

“I can’t believe it took us this long to finally make the trip,” said Khun Neary, pulling Chet from his musing of the lone semi-ruined cottage in the middle of a green field.
“Oh, yes, considering how much our friends tease us,” he replied, head shaking slightly thinking about the hundreds of times they’ve heard the phrase, “Chao Chet and Khun Neary” by literally everyone who knew their names, even by that quirky colleague at work upon receiving their wedding invitation a week ago.
In a way, it seemed like they had been made for each other.

God was a cruel playwright. Chet learned this when his father died of a needless traffic accident twelve years ago. He supposed from then on, he might have subconsciously setting himself up to meet his soul mate, his Khun Neary.
She would be the woman of all his dreams- pretty, witty and bold. The young Chet grew up waiting for his lead actress, the goddess to complete his shrine. His life would not start, Chet felt, not unless he’d found his other half.
And when a charming-looking new colleague introduced herself as Khun Neary, Chet knew at once. This was her. This sweet looking woman with black flowing hair and a hint of permanent smirk on her face who spoke with a tilted Siem Reap accent was literally the Khun Neary to his Chao Chet.

Chet looked back at his newly-made wife, bathing under the warm September morning sunshine which was sipping stealthily into the tiny car they’d rent for their trip to Pailin. Arrays of light made her rosy cheek a shade darker, like a rose ready to bloom. In a way, she had always looked like a rose to him, full of thorns, but beautiful, oh so beautiful, to behold.
To call her his was probably what it felt like to be the master of a garden full of perfect roses- proud and content.
Struck by a thought, Chet rummaged through his backpack to find his forgotten treasure, a single white rose which he’d manage to purchase this morning without Khun’s knowing. His wife’s brown sultry eyes lit up with surprise. Hand grasping for the flower, she gave him a quick peck on the lips- a noiseless thank you to a noiseless offering.
They did not need further acknowledgement; both knew the other was content.

With Khun laying her petite head on his shoulder, Chet steadily fell into an easy nap to the rhythm of his wife’s cute little snores, and the silent hum of the car’s engine. If this was what being in love felt like, he could easily do it every single day for the rest of his life.

The couple were woken up by the soft persistent call of the driver. Of course, they’d just got a flat tire, in the middle of lunch time, no less.
“I’m so sorry, sir,” apologized the driver, sweat running down his cleft lips. “I’ll fix it as soon as possible.”

Grumpily, Chet nodded. They both decided to get out of the small rented taxi to sit under the shade of a huge umbrella tree near the road. The heat was prickling on Chet’s back, and he felt like despite the enormous amount of gel in it, his hair would shoot up like bed springs any minute now. As if she’d read his thoughts, Khun smoothed his sweating head in a familiar gesture, perfected by regularly practices. She’d always liked it sleek- simple and sleek. Controllable, predictable, not like his originally curled black locks, wild and full of literally surprising twists.

This was not supposed to be how it should go. They were supposed to have a smooth ride to Pailin, the province where their respective fictional characters had fallen in love and fall in love all over again. This taxi was not supposed to stupidly die in the middle of everything!

“We should get something to eat,” urged Khun, peeking from under the big pink scarf he’d given her on their first month-versary. To this day, nearly 6 months later, Chet still felt that moving sensation in his breast every time he saw the batting coal-black eyelashes of his wife’s, or the way she scrunched up her eyebrows every time she was troubled.
Again, Chet was shot with a pang of ecstasy. This wonderfully beautiful woman. She’s all his. She’s all his.
They had the rest of their lives to be happy.

“We were supposed to stop at the provincial town for lunch. Now, what?” Khun asked again, now with an unmistakable tint of frustration laced in her smooth voice.
If only you knew how to cook, then we’d not be sitting here and complaining about food, thought Chet. Though he knew better than to say it out loud. It shouldn’t have bothered him, her not knowing how to cook, but it was hard to ignore the nagging disapproval of your heart when your stomach was also in the chorus.

“Did you know that white roses are considered to be the opposite of red roses even though they are both roses?” Chet asked, looking at the snow white rose Khun kept in her pale, veined palm.
“You know I love your literary musings, but I’m really not in the mood for story times right now.” But Chet could not stop. He had to go on; he had to. He felt like he was being chased by an invisible monster close behind his heels. His wife had always been fond of his idle musings, and now he was afraid, incredibly afraid that if he stopped now, the monster would catch up.
Must go on. Must go on.

“Red roses symbolize love whereas white roses symbolize… death.”
Khun glanced at him and steadily held her gaze for a good solid minute. Her face went from pure wide-eyed surprise, to puzzled, then to surprise again. For some reason, Chet knew. He knew she’d also seen the monster. The monster which was chasing them both.

Tap, tap tap.

Hundreds of droplets of rain suddenly fell from the seemingly clear sky. Chet and Khun hurriedly scurried back into their small grey taxi. Panting, Chet tried to desperately combed back his unruly curly hair back into its place. It was no use, the angry locks shot up from the roots of his head like bamboo sticks, coiling like springs in every direction imaginable.
He glanced up, half astonished, half ashamed to see mascara-stained eyes looking back at him. Underneath the eyes, powder and blush all blended in and rushed away from Khun’s cheeks like a city under flood.

They both laughed.
The monster had caught on.

How to Start a Blog?

How to start blogging?

Now, one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve got after young people found out I’m a blogger is,
“Jeje, how do I start blogging?”
And I almost always jokingly tell them to just start. In hindsight, maybe they only needed a technical guidance, or some practical advice. And my answer definitely was not enough, so at them is this article aimed.

Now, I like to keep things simple, so if you are full of hot blood, wanting to get your voice echoed around the void that is the internet, then just follow these two very simple steps: first, you have to have SOMETHING to say, and second, well, SAY it. Easy peasy.

  1. Have something to say

You can have the prettiest verses, the ability to string the most beautiful sentence, but if the content is hollow, I’m sorry but your writing will not stick in the minds of people for more than three days. Iconic work of art is not just praised for their execution, though it plays a big part, it also has to tell something memorable.

Well, then, how to have something to say? You’re on your own here, pal. It’s both the magic and the curse of writing (or of any creative pursuit, really). Yes, you can write about anything and everything you want, but there’s no guideline life support to drag you through the void when you are hit by a solid writer’s block.

If you want some practical suggestions from me, it’s this. Look into your life and your environments. Find an issue that is bugging you or your community, analyze it and write about it.

A word of caution, though, I personally don’t like to just put forth a problem without offering a tentative or proven solution to the issue unless it is made to raise awareness. So again, it’s up to you. Do you wish to raise awareness to a particular issue, or do you want to share practical tips you’ve gathered on how to combat one? Again, your call.

  1. SAY it

Now, after fleshing an outline for what you want to say, it’s time to get down to the business and just write. It. Down.

There are literally courses, books and blogs dedicated to make your writing better. Find some of them and read if you must. For me though, what helps shape my writing skills the most is reading and actually paying the utmost attention to how authors write.

A year before I started blogging, I’d thought my writing skill so hopelessly mediocre that I almost decided to just give it up altogether if it weren’t for this quote from the lovely Virginia Woolf.a7481e7cf51fe1ed61c09622883aba34

Since I respected her and loved her writing dearly, I struck a bet with myself. I would set myself up to read 1,000 books and if my writing is still crappy by then, I would just give up and be a goat farmer in the rural provinces or something.

It’s been 5 years since and I’ve read a few more hundred books and believe me when I say reading (and actually GENUINELY paying attention not just to the content, but to how authors employ words and twist phrases) have helped me tremendously in becoming the author I want to be. So, my not-so-practical tip to you if you want to improve your writing is this, literally read a thousand books.

Quotefancy-52168-3840x2160There’s also another pitfall that hangs upon the minds of anyone willing to try anything new, this doom cloud that veils the will and makes it extremely easy to just procrastinate writing the first sentences down. From what I’ve learned through personal experiences and reading about other authors’ writing lives, they all have this one advice: write. Write even if you don’t feel like it. Once you have an idea, write it down. Shitty first draft makes a less shittier final draft.


Now that you have your article on the go, here are some blogging platforms you can try and see if they suit your needs! (Personally, I use WordPress and am pretty content with it.):


Welp, that’s all. Happy blogging, and if you wish, send me your first articles in the comments!

Latrine Is the Shit

*Funky commercial tune for a video before cutting into the main topic*

(Seriously, watch the video first)

Fortunately, born and raised as a lower-middle class city gal, that was not something I ever had to face. No matter how old, manually or automatically flushed, I had been lucky enough to never stay in a house without a toilet. Even my grandparents in the province had that old manual toilet where you had to squat (which I learned years later that it was actually better for your intestines, but that’s another matter).

Open defecation was, in my mind, something of the near past. There were stories of how my parents squatted in the bush and used banana leaves as their trustworthy toilet paper, well, in this case, toilet leaves. I linked open defecation to barbaric war-times necessities which should not exist in our peaceful time of the present. And boy, was I wrong.

That whole assumption changed, when I had to live with a host family for a few days before our journey into the Prey Lang Forest in Kratie Province in 2015. Not a single one of the dozen of houses in the village had a working bathroom, or a toilet for that matter. We had to bathe in the river, and defecate anywhere we saw fit.

I’ve learned a lot during my stay there; perhaps the most memorable one is to never poop in the place where many others also like to poop. I also learned that instead of being a past necessity driven by war time desperation, open defecation is still a reality for some Cambodians.

Further research breaks that delusional assumption because according to the World Bank, as of 2015, open defecation is still a reality for more than half Cambodians as only 42% of the total population had access to sanitary latrines.

That is 8.67 million people who have to rely on the old fashioned squatting bush-leaves style and risk poop mines in the dead of the night to relieve themselves!

Hopefully that shall not be how things will stay and we are expecting the numbers of latrines to grow because according to the Phnom Penh Post, the government has a goal to bring the number of people without latrines to 40% by 2018, and to 0% by 2025!

And that’s a wise choice because open defecation, well, the lack of hygiene in general, is an important cause for diarrhoea, which results in the deaths of more than 750,000 children under the age 5 every year worldwide.

According to a report from World Health Organization, in 2013, an estimated 14% of the deaths of Cambodian children aged under 5 is due to diarrhoea-related diseases. That’s about 2,000 children who could have lived and grown up to be a limitless possibility of personnels had they had access to clean water and simple latrines!

As if killing children (and sending their parents into fright) is not evil enough, diarrhoea, and poor hygiene in generally is also linked to growth stunt!

Though not directly deadly, stunted growth has been found by the WHO to cause a greater risk for premature death, delayed mental development, reduced cognitive capacity, and what’s more? It can even be passed on to the next generation.

You may think children who are victims of stunted growth are so because they lack the necessary nutrients to grow healthily.

That is the case, but not the whole case.

Apparently, a review article found that the lack of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) also plays an important part in the development of stunting (oh, the irony). Children who lacks access to WASH face more frequent bouts of diarrhoea, parasitic worms, and environmental enteric dysfunction (short as EED which is a disease that causes chronic inflammation, reduced nutrient absorption of the intestine and also weakens the function of the small intestine).

Appropriating that to the Cambodian context, it has been found that, in as late as 2010, 40% of children under 5 were suffering from stunted growth! That’s 600,000 children that might grow up to have delayed mental development and reduced thinking capacity just because of malnourishment and lack of WASH! One wonders just how many of the irrational people one sees on the street and online everyday, struggling to form an appropriate justification for their environmentally-and-socially destructive behaviour might just be an unfortunate result of such simple causes.

It is now time, ladies and gents, to keep our eyes glued to the very simple yet largely ignored cause of supplying each household with a suitable latrine, not only for the sake of relieving all mothers of the bride an embarrassingly shitty moment (puns intended), but to also relieve children of the future unnecessary deaths, and needless stunting of their very-well-deserved growth!