We landed in Phnom Pehn; I felt tired and overwhelmed and excited and apprehensive, and after failing to kindle a single smile from surly airport staff, I was in need of a reassuring, friendly face. Thankfully, we were soon approached by a beaming Piseth, Field Director for the 2h Project. He greeted each of us as warmly as an old friend. I liked him instantly.
Piseth was essentially our guide for the whole trip, he knew the best places to take us, negotiated prices on our behalf, and would go to great pains to ensure that we were happy and comfortable. I was never once in doubt that we were in anything less than very capable hands. As well as incredibly diligent, Piseth was a lot of fun. He would chatter nonstop, and was always grinning or making us laugh. The story of Piseth’s past, however, was anything but cheerful.
We were gathered together one afternoon on the Farm in Palin when Piseth spoke about his childhood; including years spent in a Khmer Rouge labour camp. It was this experience that inspired Piseth to start up the Smile of the World micro-finance organisation. His compassion and kindness and readiness to laugh are a beautiful contrast to his past; his love for his country and enthusiasm for providing disadvantaged people opportunities makes him an indispensable member of the 2h team. I felt privileged to have met Piseth, and look forward to sharing more laughs with him in the future.