Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

Friday, Nov 21: Visit to Next Work Site and Chamcar Bei

Posted in Cambodia on November 24, 2014

We started out our day with a quick visit to the first latrine to see the final touches all coming together and to say a final farewell to the family while we were en route to see our next work site.

The next latrine will be constructed at a women’s weaving centre that houses up to 40 students at a time when things are in full swing, currently there is only one toilet, which makes things difficult when the centre is busy filling orders. The students are able to generate an income by weaving or making coconut jewelry that is sold at a few places around Cambodia, including our daily lunch spot, ‘The Vine Resort’. The weavers make traditional Cambodian scarves called krama on a huge loom that takes two days and many sets of hands to set up, next one woman will weave a long bolt of fabric in a few hours that is cut into different lengths to make the scarves. Traditionally the krama is red and white or blue and white checks, however they have started to use many different colours and patterns to appeal to tourists and different markets. We got to see the looms in action as the women worked busily threading with their hands and moving the pedals below with their feet to tighten each row.

We also got to see a young lady working on some of the coconut jewelry in another studio. First the coconut is sanded down to reveal the dark surface beneath the husky exterior, and then it is cut into different shapes and patterns with a wire hand saw, next there is one more round of sanding to smooth out the edges and a coat of coconut oil is applied to the final product to give it a beautiful sheen. We also visited the small gift shop on site where some of the goods are sold and we were able to buy a few souvenirs for friends and family back home.

After our lunch we headed to visit Chamcar Bei, which is another village nearby; DWC had been running projects in this region since 2007 and has only moved to working in Odong early on this year. Our first stop was at an NGO school called ‘Our School’ that teaches English. DWC volunteers have worked, and even slept at the school in the past. My younger sister Kazia had been one of the DWC participants to work on the school, along with Jen and Dan, who were team leaders when I had participated in my first DWC experience in 2010 in Rwanda. It was really awesome to see the mural that they had painted at the school. The history and friendships that DWC has fostered in the community and amongst participants is genuine and very present; we truly are developing world connections through these shared experiences.

Upon our arrival at the school, we were invited to meet the instructors and to go into one of the classrooms. We could hear the students loudly rehearsing their lessons in unison and they were encouraged to ask us some questions to practice their English. When the recess bell rang, Todd and Scott were just as eager as the kids to get in a quick game of soccer; we were astounded at the skill level of the kids and they sure gave Scott and Todd a run for their money! Once the kids were back in class, we were given a tour of the pepper plantation that will generate income for the school so that they can sustain themselves without outside funding. There is also a mango plantation that was further away that will also help the school to operate independently.

We wrapped up our visit to Chamcar Bei with a tour of the local market where we saw many unfamiliar and interesting things. There was a plethora of items being sold in plastic bags, from motor oil to iced coffee and anything in between. There were also all sorts of meats and fishes being grilled right on the street and fruits and vegetables that we had never seen. We even ran into one of the women from the weaving centre that was at the market selling lotus flower fruit, and Mr. Song the head contractor who had been helping us with the latrine project, looks like we already have a couple local friends! After the market we headed back to Kep for a quick dip in the pool and then out to ‘Holy Crab’ to have more of that delicious Kep crab!

Sarah Armstrong
DWC Team Leader
Cambodia, November 2014

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