When I turned 30, I made the rather unorthodox decision to quit my job, sell all my stuff and move from Sydney to Cambodia.
There were some altruistic elements of my decision to volunteer in a developing country for a year, but if I’m honest, I was really motivated by the thought of an adventure and a completely different lifestyle.
It might seem odd, but I hadn’t thought at all what it might feel like to live in a place where poverty is a fact of life for such a high percentage of the population, including so many children.
Arriving in Phnom Penh, I became part of the expat community and 99% of my new friends worked for NGOs. While there were lots of $1 beers, weekends away and laughs, there was also discussion about the complex issues of development, poverty and child protection in Cambodia. A lot of these issues I had never even considered before and I certainly didn’t have answers to.
I lived in a pretty nice part of town, but the disparity between my life and those of my neighbours was stark and sometimes really hard to fathom. The longer I lived in Phnom Penh, the harder this contrast became, and at times this felt quite depressing.