Carolyn Haney, a Carmel native studying psychology at Indiana University-Bloomington, decided to not spend her summer lounging by a pool reading paperback novels.
Instead she’s spent her time in Cambodia, working alongside locals working tirelessly in scorching heat performing difficult manual labor. She spends time with victims of landmines who are missing arms and legs, working in the market, some playing music and some selling artwork at a stand.
“Overall attitude is one of resilience and kindness, especially considering the horrors that occurred less than 50 years ago with the Khmer Rouge,” she said.
Haney, a senior who plans to apply for law school in the fall, spent 25 days this summer with two other interns from IU in Siem Reap, Cambodia as a part of GlobeMed at IU, a club that Haney has been involved with since her freshman year.
GlobeMed has teamed with a group called Trailblazer Angkor to help construct sustainable, inexpensive, and efficient bio-sand water filters and distributing them to the surrounding villages that do not have access to clean water.
“This is especially important in Siem Reap where as many as one in seven children will die of a waterborne illness,” Haney said.
Haney and her group are also currently working on an, “agriculture project in hopes to make the area more food independent and to rely less on imports for their food.”
They also helped construct water filters by having concrete poured into a mold and then painted, using sand, small gravel and large gravel as the filter.
“Good bacteria builds up and kills the bad bacteria so the water is safe to drink-the mechanism is simple but very effective and the water is safe to drink,” Haney said.
They have also helped grow foods such as edamame, okra, and different leafy greens. They have gone into villages to distribute water filters and teach the locals how to use them.
Haney’s future goal is to become an attorney in the area of human rights. Her preferred choice would be to go to either IU-Bloomington or IUPUI for law school.
She said her experience in Cambodia has helped change her life perspective.
“Personally, I am understanding of how privileged I am and how thankful I need to be,” she said. “To not complain about a class I have to take or a meal I don’t find enjoyable, and not to envy those who have more money or status. I am rich because I have breakfast every morning and a place to sleep each night.”
Lessons she learned in Cambodia
“Solutions are often simple and require the necessary resources and the dedication of good, hardworking people more than they need fancy technology or ingenious ideas.”
“Listening is more important than speaking when working with different people groups. Often times they know better what will work for their community than an outsider does, and the absence of capitol and resources is more common than the absence of intelligence.”
“Humans are resilient and despite unthinkable tragedy; hard work, kindness and the power of community can change the world.”