Much can be said about the impact war has on a country but what about the impact on those traveling through? 16 years living and traveling through countries who have spent years in war and countries with years of peace, has given us experiences to be able to answer that question now and prevent you from encountering shocking consequences on your next trip.
No doubt, war changes people but what’s interesting is that war has a similar impact on every country.
Some commonalities found in those countries impacted by war include:
- Decreased empathy toward others in need.
- Lack of trust in each other or outsiders.
- Stress related disorders
- Extreme poverty and extreme wealth
- Infrastructure and organizational chaos
- Ongoing unmet health needs
- Mines or radiation causing injuries years after the war has ended.
How do you think these issues would impact someone traveling through for a week or a year?
1. The traveler will observe and often be shocked by the contrasts of extreme rich and poor and obvious injustices.
2. Travelers can expect to be approached by beggars that may be even more persistent than usual, not taking no for an answer.
3. As a foreigner, you might notice that there is a lack of trust in either you as the outsider, their own people, or both.
4. Travelers should expect delays in procedures, traffic, and most other business or government dealings as organization most likely has not yet been achieved.
How has living in a country recently devastated by civil war impacted me and my family here in Cambodia? There are many times that we see the effects of these painful events on those friends who survived. First, we have to fight against dependency in long term relationships. The Khmer we meet have often been without and are looking for a provider to assure their future financially. We have also learned to patiently build trust instead of expecting it. At times even enduring undeserved blame for not being the expected hero, meeting their needs as they perceive they should be met. Lastly, taking on a leadership role that’s patient, kind, and gentle inspite of what the culture says a leader should be. In the past, they were led by harsh demanding leaders and operated out of fear. We teach them a new way that is kind so that they can learn to lead in a way that is kind.
“Let’s face it–if mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any . . . wars in the first place.”
SALLY FIELD, acceptance speech at 2007 Emmy Awards
What differences do you see in countries who have endured war compared to those who have not?
Featured image: children during Pol Pot provided by http://www.ridecambodia.com