Hey everyone it’s Catherine writing to you from Siem Reap, Cambodia!
The trip from Toronto went very well, most of us slept the entire flight and once we arrived in Guangzhou we were all starving and chowed down on some Chinese Burger King. After we settled down in the hotel we went out for lunch where we tried several different delicious authentic Cambodian dishes. We then went to our first NGO (Non Government Organization), Rehash Trash where 18 woman work to collect and reuse plastic bags and repurpose them by turning them into different accessories such as pencils cases, water bottle holders, hand bags and many more things. It was interesting to see that something we use everyday back home is used as a means of making money to provide for themselves. To finish off the day we went to dinner and a traditional Apsara Cambodian dance, it was a beautiful experience and great to be so immersed in the culture already on the first day. We are all looking forward to the new food, adventures and experiences of today! Talk to you soon! 🙂
Catherine, DWC High School Volunteer
Hello it’s Larysa writing from Cambodia!
On today’s journey, we were able to experience the lifestyle of many Cambodians. Our first stop was to try delicious treats at a bakery where we saw , and helped produce some homemade desserts. Then, we continued on to see the Bridge of Life School and were amazed to see all the happy children and people living in their community. In addition, we listened to survivors of the Cambodian genocide to speak on their experiences through the Pol Pot times. Outside of the village, we were able to speak to a head Monk who answered all our questions and shared important life lessons as well as morals. To finally end off our day, we visited a local market to do some Christmas shopping and enjoyed the city in the evening. Overall, today was all about meeting really great people of this wonderful country. I’d like to conclude with some great words from the head monk, “Yesterday is the past life, today is the present life, tomorrow is the future life.”
Larysa, DWC High School Volunteer
Hello, it’s Jake in Cambodia!
We started the day early waking up at 4 in the morning so we could see Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, for the sunrise. It was worth it. It was a beautiful sunrise, and seeing the temple was amazing. The temple’s were built in the 13th century and are still standing today. They had carvings all over the walls telling previous stories. They also had monkeys, but we only saw one. The most beautiful part of the day wasn’t the temple, but it was visiting New Hope. A NGO that helps educate kids so they can get a job when older. They teach them English, Khmer, and also have some special courses like computers, music, and photography. All the kids their looked super happy and a few of us had fun playing soccer with them. The people at New Hope were very excited to see us, and the workers were also amazing cooks. I think I speak for all of us when I say that they had a variety of food, the most exotic being crickets, which were delicious. They tasted a bit like burnt chicken wings, and almost every one tried them and liked them. Everyone had a wonderful time.
Jake, DWC High School Volunteer
Hey it’s Shernise from Kep Cambodia. We started our day with breakfast at a small seaside restaurant. In the morning, we experienced Kep for the first time. It is a small town, where the old French colonial architecture and the Pacific Ocean stand amidst the local Khmer people of the region. The crab market lines the shore and at night, a multitude of boats stand ready in the ocean for their catch of crab.
After breakfast, we all hopped on the bus and headed to the worksite. Within the span of a few kilometres, we had already noticed substantial difference between life in the seaside town and in the rural area. When we arrived, we all gathered around as our translator explained to us about not only the importance of work and social justice in Cambodia, but also of Equitable Cambodia: an organization aimed at helping people in Cambodia.
Then we all got assigned the different latrines we would be building and so we started work. Our bricklaying may not have been the best, but it was still pretty good, considering it was our first time. One of the groups took a break from their building to play a soccer game with some of the kids from the area. It may not have been the FIFA World Cup, nonetheless, it was incredible that despite the language barrier, they were able to communicate and carry on a game.
The disparity between our own lives in Canada and the ones lived by the Khmer people did not go unnoticed by us. It is an apparent, simple fact that we come from different worlds entirely. Despite this, we continue to bond with the people of Cambodia in small, significant ways.
All the best,
Shernise, DWC High School Volunteer
Hi everyone, it’s Nicole from Kep, Cambodia!
Our day started with breakfast at the hotel, before we headed out to the worksite. For day 2 of work, we started casting, which essentially looks like icing a cake but cement on bricks is much harder! After a few hours of work we played soccer with the kids and blew bubbles too. When we were done working on the latrines for the day, we enjoyed one of the most delicious meals we’ve had in Cambodia: pumpkin soup with an unlimited supply of bread, along with deep fried shrimp, vegetables, and some rice! Next, we visited a school here in Kep called, “Our School”, and brought bags filled with school supplies and books. We had recess with the kids, which was super nostalgic for most of us, and it was fun (and a little confusing) to learn and teach games to each other in different languages! Later, we said our goodbyes with plenty of hugs and handshakes, and headed back to the guesthouse— a little sad that we had to leave our new friends.
Back at the hotel, we spent some time relaxing after a busy day. The girls sat by the ocean journaling, while the boys successfully put up their hammock after multiple attempts! Afterwards, we went to a short, yet beautiful Catholic mass and actually met a Scottish exchange student living here in Cambodia, which definitely inspired a few of us. We finished the day with dinner at a restaurant, and some of us tried shark meat for the first time, and we decided it tasted like “fishen” (fish + chicken). After dinner, we had our daily debrief, and then prepared for bed.
That’s all for now,
Nicole, DWC High School Volunteer
Hey it’s Erica and Olena from Cambodia!
Today was a long and exciting day. We started with a scrumptious breakfast, then we made our way to the local market. Each group was challenged to buy a meal for a family with only four-thousand Riels (USD $1). Through this exercise it became apparent to us the difficulties that the local Khmer people face in their everyday lives. After purchasing the foods at the market we gave the families the purchased food for them to enjoy; and then we continued to work hard to finish our projects.
After completing our work, we took some time to acknowledge our gratitude for our families; with words and gifts of love. Next we made our way to our last lunch at the local restaurant (best lunch we’ve had so far). After lunch, we thanked Mr. Song, our supervisor. We also thanked our two amazing translators for their help and patience with us during our time in Kep. To them we are sincerely grateful.
The day did not end there, we then had a tour of some attractions of the city. The last stop of the tour was a Buddhist temple. At the temple we had an amazing view of the city and ocean. Afterwards the monks and nuns invited us to join them in prayer as well as a meditation. They were very kind and hospitable, even offering us a place to stay, if needed.
We finished our day with a lovely dinner at the crab market. Afterwards, we made our way back to the hotel to prepare for tomorrow’s visit to the genocide museum and tuol sleng prison.
Erica and Olena, DWC High School Volunteers