Smiles greet volunteers to Cambodia January 30, 2017

Canoe in water Cambodia

Posted in on January 30, 2017

Feb. 4

Today, Saturday February 4, the students started the day by going to the beautiful Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap. The temple is one of the seven wonders of the world and built entirely from stone. After a very sunny morning spent there, we enjoyed lunch at a Khmer restaurant. The girls had fried bananas and fruit smoothies.

Next up was a visit to the Golden Silk Farm – a non-government organization producing fair-trade silk products. The organization goes back to Cambodia’s roots in its intricate production methods. Offering good jobs to underprivileged women, the farm allows workers to bring their small children to work in hope that the love surrounding them will show in their creations. These women are also given the opportunity to live on the farm if they are in need. Recreating the beautiful designs on the walls of Angkor Wat, the farm seeks to produce the best quality silk while staying close to Cambodia’s roots.

Today was the girls’ last day in Cambodia and they are all excited to head home to their families and friends tomorrow morning. They would like to say thank you to all the teachers and trip supervisors who helped make the experience happen. They would also like to thank all the parents who supported their children through the trip. The girls’ lives have changed for the better and they hope that as this trip ends, it will create a new beginning of hope and justice.

By Tameka and Sarah

Feb. 2

Today, we woke up at 6:30 a.m. and ate bread and eggs for breakfast. We boarded our bus at 7:30 and made our way to Siem Reap from Kep. To do this, we drove through Phnom Penh once again and after three hours on our journey, we stopped at the Killing Fields.

This is the the sight where individuals were transported from S-21 or Tuol Sleng, and were mass murdered under Pol Pot’s regime. We found it appalling as to how the Khmer Rough managed to take the humanity out of human life and murder people in the most disconnected and disgusting ways possible. For example, the way they took babies from their mothers and murdered them right in front of their eyes.

We also found it interesting that the UN (United Nations) recognized the Khmer Rouge as Cambodia’s official government and provided them financial support even after they were overthrown.

After our visit to the Killing Fields, we boarded the bus and continued our drive to Siem Reap. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at Yam Yam, and it was indeed, very yum yum. After that, we stopped at the bug market where many people engaged in eating tarantulas. One girl ate four! Surprisingly, they were not that bad. . . some people even enjoyed them.

We then boarded the bus for the last time and headed straight for Siem Reap. We arrived at the hotel at around 9:30 p.m.

By Bianca

Jan. 31

Continuing our journey on to seeing the world. Today was our last full day in Kep and the fourth day of our trip (four more left). Today we spent our last memories with our families working on the latrines and visiting Our School.

In the last three days, we have grown closer to the families, and we have genuinely appreciated all that they have taught and have given us. We have learned through leaving our families, that less is always more and hard work pays off. From Tia we were able to translate our thank yous and goodbyes, which was difficult as we learned the value of community and acceptance from them.

After lunch we visited Our School, which was close to our work sites. We were introduced to their staff and students as well as all of their classrooms. The school is an amazing place where the less fortunate students in Kep can learn English, technology and so much more to provide opportunities for the future. We had the pleasure to join them in recess which had reached home with all of us, from the genuine smiles, open arms and a serious game of soccer. We taught a lot to the kids but they managed to teach us even more. They taught us the true meaning of happiness – bizarre, we know, but somehow their sharing of hugs, laughter and smiles showed us that you can be happy with a whole lotta nothing.

Before our last dinner in Kep, we did our go-around and for the first time on the trip, tears were shared among the group. We shared our thoughts for the day, most commonly people felt a sense of guilt, as we feel we are not as appreciative as we should be. But most importantly, we will take what we learned and apply it our lives back home. Something that resonated with us was the fact that we are not the centre of the universe but we are all one.

“I may not change the world but I certainly can change someone’s world. And if I’m really lucky, my world will change too.”

By Shaw and Melayna

Jan. 30

We started our day off in Kep, a calm beach town. After breakfast, we had the privilege to listen to a guest speaker from a school called Our School. She taught us about the history of the school and what they are looking forward to in the future. The students learned how the education system works in Cambodia. After our morning talk, we took a bus to the work site. It was a big reason we were on the trip and it was what all of us had been looking forward to.

We split up into small groups of four or five and went to different locations. We were working in some of the poorest villages in Cambodia to help build latrines for the families who live there. It was amazing to work with the families and their children. They didn’t speak any English, so our communication skills were tested and we had to try out our Khmer.

At the end of out work day, we went on a tour of Kep on tuktuks, which are carriages attached to a motorcycle. Our driver took us to the beach, the pier and all around town. It was beautiful! For dinner, we went down to the crab market and were given a challenge. They gave us four dollars each and we had to find a restaurant to eat at and budget our money. It was difficult, but it was still a good time. Overall, today was an amazing day!

By Kathleen and Hannah

First day after arriving, Jan. 29
Our morning began with packing up out of the first hostel. We ventured out to a little community who had huge impact. We could not drive down the street due to road conditions, so we got out of the bus and started to walk along the railroad.

All of the small children greeted us with hellos along with tons of smiles. We entered a home with locals and representatives from Equitable Cambodia. They shared with us their on going battles with the government who want to take away their land for a future building project.

In total, we visited three communities where people all shared their impactful real-life fight to keep their land. The last community we visited was the river community, where our school returned for the third year in a row. They live above a canal which floods with garbage and water in the rainy season and is left with the garbage beneath their homes during the dry season.

The history of the families who have lived in these homes for 10, 20 or 30 years is which keeps them going in their battle to fight the government that wantw to take away their homes. After leaving the community, each and every one of us had opened our eyes to the struggles that Cambodians are facing. Shortly after, we were on our way to Kep, a four-hour drive from Phenom Penh, where we will begin our project to build latrines for the local community.

By Reilly

Posted in on January 30, 2017