Uncle Mab & Monkey-B 👷♀️ Our Young Construction Worker In Training 🚧
Monkey-B and her Uncle Mab are work buddies, and her natural curiosity always has her interested in things like construction, cooking, moto maintenance, and more.
Fence Progress 👷
Progress is being made on the fence, and now there are only a few fenceposts left to erect. This coincides with me not being able to renew my one-year visa unfortunately, a tough reminder that no matter how long I have lived in Cambodia and speak the language, I do not have the same rights as a citizen, and my future here is always in the hands of bureaucrats.
I was only able to get a three-month extension on my visa, and it is non-renewable, so it's time to leave Cambodia soon whether I can afford it or not. I am not sure how I will be able to return because I am self-employed, and to reside in Cambodia I have to find an employer to invite me into the country. I really don't know what the future holds now, and it's been really hard for me to even think about our construction project now.
In Training 👷♀️
I had planned to visit my family in the USA, but I thought I would be going for a week or two with a fresh Cambodian one-year renewed visa in-hand. This will not be the case now, and it could be many months until I can figure out a way to return. I feel really stupid to have borrowed so much money to buy land in a country where I have few rights. The land isn't even purchased in my name because a foreigner can't legally own land here, another reminder of how few rights I have here.
I had hoped for this post to be about the above noni tree I've been trying to get going, and about how Monkey-B loves to help her uncle, but each day I can only think about hugging my daughters and how much I will miss them. I feel consumed by rage and anger these days, and know another battle to keep this family together is coming very soon.
I have wanted to stop living in Cambodia for more years than I can count, but I have a family, and even the USA, my own country, another place I don't want to live, isn't interested in hosting us either. I really feel ashamed of the USA and Cambodia, and how they both have consistently failed my family and I time and time again. In times like these we often feel all we want to achieve in this life is to die without citizenship to the two countries that have made life nearly impossible for us at times. It's a shame there is not a country that has opened the immigration door for us, so we are stuck with trying to live in or immigrate to two countries that have done nothing but try to tear us apart.
Sorry folks, I am not in the posting mood because this feeling of rage has consumed me. I guess for now I have three months left to spend with the family, so I will focus on living in the moment and bring the construction project to an end ASAP because we will now need every dollar spent towards future family reunification. We have already decided to put the land up for sale, out little dream after being stranded abroad for three years has already died.
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Noooo! This is incredibly sad, and I don't know what I could say to make things seem better. I feel quite stupid offering ridiculously sounding (though truly honest) suggestions, like could you not get employed in Uncle Mab's construction business, or Srey-Pov's noni business to get visa sponsorship? Right, like you haven't thought of that already! So instead, let me just express my heart-felt sympathy, and write the comment I was going to make to the post's title pic and first paragraph:
I think it is amazing when girls are permitted, or better yet encouraged, to learn such supposedly male things as mixing concrete or fixing engines. The same can also apply to boys weaving baskets or baking bread, though these things aren't seen in the same radical way. Two thumbs up for Monkey-B for being an eager builder! Looking forward to her post about it, offering her own point of view.
Unfortunately 99% of businesses here are unlicensed, and the ones that are properly registered are big money makers and wouldn't want to risk anything for sponsoring someone that is not going to work for them. The private school director in our former town offered to sponsor me in any way, but he lacks the proper registration to sponsor both student and work visas. At least he was willing to help though, that was a selfless guesture.
It's funny, there are gender roles in Cambodia, but often times things that are the wheelhouse of a man in other cultures are the place of a woman here. Factory workers are overwhelmingly women here, whereas back in the USA it's majority male. This is because women workers are less likely to protest, organize, and face-off with higher management. In construction work, women do all of the ground floor work such as carrying the bricks and mixing the cement, something that would seem strange in most western cultures.
I have been bugging Monkey-B to post again for a long time, but she always has an excuse for not doing it. Her big sister though has already learned of and experienced the power of HIVE earnings and how it can change her life.
Mixing concrete is considered women's work in Cambodia? Now I am actually surprised. But only on the ground floor? I wonder why that is. Because they are thought to be less skilled to climb around on the scaffolding? Or does it have to do with exposure to visibility? I'm sure there is an explanation behind everything, but most gender roles, even from my own cultural background, seem bizarre in a wider context.
Well, if Monkey-B doesn't feel like posting, she won't. But please tell her that she has followers who do miss her, and look forward to seeing some original content created on her own.
I didn't even consider that, but even though nowadays pants are the normal attire for ladies on a construction site, skirts or dresses were probably the norm way back in the day. The exposure/visibility thing could be a subconscious or engrained behavior from the past despite pants easily solving the problem.
I will tell Monkey-B there are eager readers awaiting a new post, first step will be to get her documenting her days through photography again.
You need to consult a lawyer. That bureaucrat who said you needed to pay for work-visas even for the period you were in Suriname was probably just trying it on - any money you give him will just go into his pocket.
Can you get a job as an international reporter? i.e you become the "Correspondant from Cambodia".
The stuff you write is really interesting and different, and you might be able to land a position that pays for your visa.
A lawyer is the last kind of person you ever want to deal with in such an authoritarian country. A lawyer here that wants to live a long life serves more as a negotiator between the client and the government, merely trying to convince the government to not be so harsh, but clearly never fighting against the government in any way. Court trials and things like that are expensive, total shams, and a waste of time.
Being an international reporter would be awesome, but I have no college degree or experience in the field, and journalism is a very dangerous profession in Cambodia, rarely done by foreigners that live here full-time because most people attempting to report the truth end up in jail or seek asylum abroad.
I could likely land a job that would sponsor my visa, but it would mean splitting the family up within Cambodia. I'd have to live hundreds of kilometers away and come to see them on the mountain once a month or so. The K-Visa would solve all of our problems, so for now we're putting our faith in that and hoping we get it sooner than three months when I have to depart Cambodia.
I see what you mean about a lawyer.
I still think you should send an article on spec to one of the western newspapers/magazines.
For writers in America/Europe, yes they do filter by college degree, but only because so many people want to cover that beat. For Cambodia, you have no competition apart from the BBC.
Try the Spectator (UK mag). The editor is famous for publishing unlikely people, because he's looking for something different. Your impressions of the bureaucracy in Suriname would make an interesting article. The stuff about the immigration lawyers in Ecuador would also make a great article. Especially as you are writing from the perspective of an American, who everyone assumes has an easy time of it - their readers will be surprised to learn it ain't so, and that's the unique perspective you'll bring to their publication.
Here's the link for submission to the Spectator. I think you need to email your stuff to the Features editor
Normally I wouldn't take any advice like this seriously, after all, blogger to paid column writer is quite a stretch. But the way you have described this particular magazine makes me think there could be a chance, and I will certainly pursue it. Photojournalism was something I always wanted to go to school for when I was young, but university is just not affordable for everyone in the USA, so I let that dream die and became a manual laborer.
P.S. The Spectator isn't really a photojournal, though they do publish pictures accompanying articles - include a few with your submision, so they can choose.
Also, the editor believes covid restrictions were too extreme, and damaged people and countries (he's pro-vaccine, pro-common sense, anti-authoritarian). So title your article "How my family got stranded in Suriname for three years because of covid rules", to grab their attention. If you can think of a pithier title, go for it!
Be sure to detail all the costs of covid tests, visas, lawyers etc. It's the bureaucratic extortion that's the scandal of the covid episode. Yours is a love story with bureaucrats as the enemy.
This is valuable info, I will keep this in mind when I prepare an email/story. 🙏🙏🙏
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Monkey B is good child, she always doing the work. I really appreciated and salute with this little girl. Keep it up my Dear.
She does indeed get much joy from being helpful and useful, and I know this will serve her well in life.
sorry to hear that, I hope God will guide you and your family during these hard times in your life. I thought everything was well already, You have come through from the previous challenges
Yes, I guess it's nothing new, but at times I feel silly for borrowing money to buy land in my wife's name in a place where I can so easily lose my right to live here. Well, it's in the past now, and we can only focus on developing several alternatives for us to remain together in the future should both Cambodia and the USA offer us no longterm security.
This is just..., It is really dad and I am hoping that you can still extend it more and find a way for you and your family to be able to stay in there. But if not, then I also hope that you find a place where you will feel more belong. Like you can stay whenever you want and without those tiring process. Hang in there to you and your family. 💪❤️
It is such a stressful and exhausting feeling living for so many years without being able to make a future longer than a year in advance. I always tell my wife I'd live in a shoebox on the side of the road anywhere in the world if that country would just guarantee us the right to reside and remain together.
For now no such country has presented itself, so we have to continue our fight to both stay in Cambodian and also immigrate to the USA, hoping at least one path will open a longterm solution for our family.
I hope everything is good soon. Love you!
Me too, I am so tired of dealing with this stuff year after year.
🙁 😞 🙏
Well, as bad it is, in such an authoritarian country where I have so few rights, this country is still more open to hosting to us than so-called land of the free. Well, apparently the USCIS offers face-to-face meetings even though I've spent years trying to simply weave pass the automated denials on the website where I haven't yet reached a stage to get a meeting or talk with a human of any kind who I could ask what the hell is going on.
Well, when/if I have to come back home, one of my priorities will be renting a car and driving to USCIS for a meeting and to let them know the hell they've put my family and I through. I'm almost 40 years old and I'd hate to imagine when I'm 60 that I'll still be dealing with these and feeling transient in what should be peaceful retirement years.
If I am able to get a meeting in the USA, it won't be an immigration meeting because we have not made it to that stage yet. However, I am hoping to get solid answers for why our documentation for the US keeps getting denied, things like our intended address, my wife's Cambodian criminal check, etc.
As of now it looks like the K-Visa for Cambodia is our best shot at longterm family stability. I We're heading to Phnom Penh on Sunday to collect my passport with 3-month extension, and it will be a race against the clock to get married for the second time so that we can then apply for the K-Visa.
It's insane that your legal marriage in South America is not recognized in Cambodia.
Xenophobia is the norm here, need to keep the precious Cambodian DNA as pure as possible.
Understandable if the Airbnb doesn't workout. For now, cash out first and it will be easier for you to make a come back, rather than have a ton of debts and later you find returning into a ditch that can never recover.
We're gonna wait and see what happens with the visa, but if I have no chance at longterm visa stability here and the US won't stop denying our visa, then I think we sell the land here, go back to living in a $50 room while we search for a new country to welcome us with longterm residency options.
I've always been interested in Svalbard since I was 16 years old because there are no visa requirements if you can simply arrive there. The landscape is hell on Earth, but I've met a few people that made a lot of money there, a lot of Russians and Thai citizens there.