A Life Changed by the Mushroom Project
July 25, 2014
Allow me to introduce you to Bun Lai. She is a widow who lives in a small but typical Cambodian village. She is extremely poor. Even though most Westerners visiting this village would instantly decide that everyone is poor, there are actual varying degrees of poverty that exist even in this village and Bun Lai is on the lowest rung. She is even shunned by some because of her lack of resources.
In a crowd Bun Lai stands out. She stands out due to her skeletal like thinness. She also stands out due to the sadness that has deeply lined her face. Her face testifies to the weight of her suffering and sorrow. I learned that Bun Lai has a daughter who was raped by a village man and because she has no protector or resources—this same man moved in their house and treats Bun Lai with contempt. At times he and the daughter may eat food, but Bun Lai is forced to eat rice with salt and nothing else. The parents of this man also treat Bun Lai badly, all because she is poor. A couple of months ago she was so overwhelmed with despair she tried to hang herself. The villagers saw her in the tree and intervened.
Bun Lai also has TB. She is coughing up blood and is greatly fatigued. When we talked about her illness it came up in the conversation that there is a clinic near the village which has the medicine that Bun Lai needs. The medicine has been donated to the clinic but the man running the clinic will not give the medicine to those in need. He charges a fee of $25—a fee that Bun Lai cannot afford to pay. So, she has gone without the medicine that she needs.
Her story had me undone until I realized the ending hadn’t yet been written. There were new chapters to write. Bun Lai now has her medicine. She is doing small jobs at our farm; eating at our farm; and is now part of a small community that really cares about her. She is now one of nine women learning to farm mushrooms to help provide her with a sustainable income. Skills are being taught. Relationships are being created. Food and medicine are being provided. Hope is being instilled. Her life is being changed.
This is why we are here in Cambodia. Thanks for helping us to be here!