Today was our first day at the amazing village. After breakfast at the hotel we headed in tuk tuks out to the village. It’s around a 25 minute ride and we head out of the city and into the countryside. There is a stark difference between the tourist city of Siem Reap and the surrounding areas; in fact the province here is the 3rd poorest in the country. Once at the village we were greeted by kids everywhere running around the school and by its founder Sambath. He is a remarkable man! With little education to his name, as he did not have the opportunity when he was young, he saw his community and its children suffering from violence, alcoholism and a lack of education. He wanted to help. Over 10 years of hard work he had saved $700 and instead of spending it on a holiday or himself, he started a school. That was in 2007 and today in 2014 the school has over 1000 children and is a place for the whole community to gather and be proud of. He is an inspiring man and the Volunteers were definitely moved by his story.
We had a walking tour of the community and saw truly how the people here live. Local markets, restaurants, houses, farms, the making of rice wine and so much more! It was a very hot day and we started heading back to the school for lunch which was prepared by both the volunteers and the local youth who volunteer there as well. Delicious food was had and conversations flowing!
Now after lunch that’s when the hard work started! Our task here would be to finish off a small hut that would be used for various purposes such as a classroom, kitchen, study area and anyone in the community to use it as a place to sleep. First task for the day: putting down the floor boards! Second talk for the day: playing with the kids in dancing, sport and drawing. By 4pm the volunteers felt at home here as they were so welcomed already! Tomorrow the real work and real fun starts!
Dinner was had at a local restaurant in Siem Reap and the night was filled with market shopping (there’s a lot of cool presents coming back for those at home!) and exploring.
Good night and a good tomorrow!