Today is our first day at the village after one week in the elephant refuge. The community of Kro Bei Reil sits 20 minutes outside of Siem Reap and consists of 11 villages surrounding a central school.
We arrived at the school at 8am and were immediately stormed by local volunteers. These teenagers come from the surrounding villages to give back to their communities. We all stood in a circle and introduced ourselves before being paired off with the locals and taken to their “village house”. Over the past few years Reach Out Volunteers has built houses on the school grounds for each village surrounding the school. Each village is responsible for the upkeep of the house and they are used to teach the children about being responsible and to house students.
After our meet and greet Sam, the founder of the school, took us on a tour of one of the neighboring villages, where the volunteers were able to see first hand how the people rural Siem Reap live.
At lunchtime the volunteers went back to their assigned houses and cook their lunches with the locals! There was everything ranging from sour fish soup to fried morning glory.
In the afternoon we got to work. Split up into three groups we began to tackle the projects of the day. There was repairing a damaged house, building a vocational training center, and laying water pipes in the around the school.
It was hard work but worth it when the volunteers got to spend the end our day with the kids. We taught (or maybe they taught us) dancing and drawing, while other volunteers joined in soccer and volleyball games.
The evening brought an surprise for the volunteers… Carnival! Just outside of Siem Reap there is a road called route 66 where the traffic jams are constant and a year round carnival lights up the night. Bumper cars came first, followed by a rollercoaster and (after failing to find the Ferris Wheel) and strange swinging wrecking ball ride.
Tomorrow the work continues.
John and Briana