Travelling as you work, giving time, being at the heart of the country. Opening, sharing and joining our humanities. The dream of practising osteopathy on a mission in a foreign country. Enthusiastic about the project and by those who lead it, I arrived in Cambodia without really knowing what to expect, apart from an extraordinary osteopathic battle, and encounters.
Meeting with a team.
In this first acquaintance with Cambodia, apart from collisions between wealth and poverty which hits the average Westerner, it was first and foremost a group of pleasant osteopaths that I met, committed just like me, in this adventure for the health of children. We were individual people who had come together for a project, and then as the days of treatment went past, we became a true team. Thank you for this mutual trust, for the bonds established before, during and after the mission. The beauty of working together in the same room, arriving at a place and fitting it out collectively in just a few minutes. And then the procession of children who would arrive, and the osteopathic work began, the atmosphere in the room changed and we were there together, in silence. Indescribable. And then we would leave, with the feeling of having done what we had to do. In the evening we would have dinner together, trying to become just a happy bunch of ordinary people again, but with this complicity in what we had done that day.
The children become acquainted with osteopathy.
We were warmly welcomed by the teams dealing with the centres where we worked. Thank you to them for the wonderful job they do every day for the children. The children were waiting patiently for their turn to get up on the makeshift tables, some of them smiling and curious, wondering what was going to happen, and others sometimes rather anxious for the same reasons. We made several attempts to speak a few basic words of Khmer: to introduce ourselves, say a few useful words like “stand up”, “on your back”, “on your tummy”, etc… Our French accent often left them bewildered, but after a few days, certain simple words could be understood. Even though Sotikhun and Sovanara were there to serve as interpreters when necessary (thank you to them), this was not the main point. Body language often speaks better than what there is to say, and what is not fully expressed. Hands are positioned and very soon the tone is set, the somatic suffering is strong: zones locked away, shadows curled around the spine or an organ, the swampy inertia of a wasted strip of land… this was how the battle began for almost every child. I can only try to summarize what I experienced.
Being there, being present – the child was there, present. Not to align yourself with the problem; feel what breathes life into the child, open your senses, wait, feel health creep back in, until the body is reset in motion, the spark, the breath that rekindles the flame of life, breathing, expansion, relaxation, no hassle, gratitude for life. A lady friend of mine told me about a sufi proverb which I will try not to misrepresent: “Humans make furrows with the shade, and fill them with light”. Witnessing these children’s encounters with health and seeing my fellow travellers do the same, together, was a great moment of osteopathy, and one of life’s great lessons.
I noticed that in spite of what they wear or experience, these children are beautiful, attentive, loving, ready to exchange with others, imbued with gentle joy. These are just a few words to say how strongly the forces of resilience can act to achieve practical results. In a thousand and one contrasts, I have come through this experience with the well-tried conviction that the Khmer people are back on their feet, they are getting there. A lot of work needs to be done, and osteopathy can contribute to this reconstruction.
Since haikus are in fashion, I propose this one from Kobayashi Issa:
“Thunder and lightning!
with each flash,
the world is healed.”