Traveling from north to south Cambodia, Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, we had a taste not only of Cambodian life but also their cuisine. As an added bonus we even got to experience some other elements of Cambodia that certainly were not on the to do list, such as the Intensive Care Unit of a clinic in Phnom Penh (there are cats) and many a police station in Sihanoukville (watch out for those motorbike Cowboys, they’ll snatch your handbag and bring you with them if necessary!).
Siem Reap is home to the world famous Buddhist and Hindu temples that date back to the 11th century. Although I had a few days here last year, we just did one day of temple trekking so this time we went for two, including a day that began at 4.45am so we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, the most iconic temple at the centre of it all.
Since arriving in Thailand I’ve had pad Thai or a variation of pad Thai at least twice a day. Whether getting a street food version in Bangkok for 30 baht (less than a euro) or in the restaurants on Koh Tao for about 100 baht, it’s always so good! We’ve even had it for breakfast. It’s more or less noodles with vegetables and you can get chicken, beef, pork or seafood if you want, or for the vegetarians there’s also pineapple and cashew nuts or tofu versions!
On the ferry from Chumphan to Koh Tao it became apparent that we were actually making our way towards a scuba diving mecca. As none of us had been diving before, we didn’t think much of it and were more … Continue reading
Bangkok, the first destination of our 9 week South East Asia adventure. We’d been warned to go and get out as fast as possible. That it was dirty, dangerous and toilet paper was practically illegal, not to mention the ping … Continue reading
Over the past few days, thanks to family and friends, we have received €1,000 of donations for Children with Hope for Development! I would like to give a big thank you to everyone that has made this possible through their generous donations, especially all those who made it to the fundraiser on Friday in Craughwell as well as all those who have made online donations. The €1,000 that has been fundraised will go so far in Cambodia and will be of huge help in bringing Children with Hope for Development towards sustainability.
Last week due to bad weather conditions in Takeo, one of the classrooms was completely knocked down. This led to Children with Hope for Development urgently seeking donations to not only help repair the classroom but also to replace it with a concrete one, much like the computer room that we were able to fund last year. It is for reasons such as this that CHD is trying to become sustainable, so that they can stop relying on donations to make repairs to their classrooms or furthermore, to improve their facilities in general.
If you’d like to make a donation or learn more about CHD, CLICK HERE.
Amazingly, it has been almost I year since my brother Christopher and I returned from our 5 week trip to Cambodia where we were welcomed with open arms by the local people of the country’s oldest and most eastern province, Takeo. During our 5 weeks of volunteering with grassroots NGO Children with Hope for Development (CHD), we discovered the beautiful but struggling country through the eyes of teachers, having the opportunity to teach over 200 children on a daily basis in the tiny village of Po, where everyone – women, children and the elderly included – works in the rice fields along the Vietnamese border. To put it lightly, the province of Takeo is severely poverty stricken and in desperate need not only of funding but also of volunteers.
Our experience at CHD is one that my brother and I will hold forever, and drastically changed how we view many things in life, but mainly the appreciation we now have for the basic services that we benefit from and the privileges that, as citizens of a developed country, we all take for granted. Cambodia is still recovering from a gruesome genocide that resulted in the loss of a quarter of the country’s population only 30 years ago, leaving them decades behind in terms of development. The education system was practically non-existent at the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign and infrastructure was left in ruins as the country’s population was taken out of cities and contrived into forced labour amongst the rice fields. Only last year, during our time in Cambodia, were two leaders of the Khmer Rouge convicted for crimes against humanity during the genocide. Although justice has still not been served to the people of Cambodia, they are making huge progress and a new generation of students are finally having the opportunity to benefit from a continuously improving education system, thanks to international aid and NGO’s such as Children with Hope for Development that recognise Cambodia needs to adopt western style education systems in order to develop further.
Children with Hope for Development provides English, French and maths classes to students that live within a 10km radius of the school. The students are aged between 4 and 17, and although they also attend the government school, it simply isn’t enough. Classes taught in Cambodian schools are extremely basic and for only 3 to 4 hours every morning. Sokha Treng, founder of CHD, recognised that the continuous circle of poverty in the rural region of Takeo was never going to change if the children did not receive an adequate education in order to learn how to read and write not only in Khmer but also in English, enabling them have the opportunity to find a job out of the rice fields and possibly even study at university. However, the organisation is not yet sustainable. CHD relies solely on donations to pay their bills – salaries for the Cambodian teachers, electricity, internet, books and school supplies.
Last year, thanks to our neighbours, friends, family, Craughwell Athletics Club, Craughwell National School and NEOMA Business School we raised US$3,000 for the organisation and ieDepot generously matched this figure, bringing our total donation to US$6,000. This enabled CHD to build their first concrete building and for my brother and I to begin an IT class with the students. Technology, computers, even smart phones are a rarity in Takeo with the majority of the students not even having electricity in their own homes. The opportunity to learn how to use a computer or even just to see one, attracted students from afar to CHD and will surely open many doors for them in the future. The US$6,000 was raised covered all costs for the building of the fantastic new classroom, the first of its kind for the school to have an actual floor, walls and roof as well as electric fans to keep the students cool all year round. The new building also means that school can continue throughout the rainy season, unlike with the previous classroom that merely provides shade.
It is at this point that CHD has a strong foundation and a growing number of students as well as active volunteers traveling from all over the world and bringing whatever donations they can with them. CHD has identified that in order for them to really spread their wings and have a big impact on the local community, they need to become sustainable. CHD’s next big project, a goal that once seemed impossible, is to build accommodation for the volunteers so that the money generated from food and board can be used to cover the school’s costs. Furthermore, CHD is also planning on starting a farming project with chickens and other small farm animals. Eggs and milk will be sold locally to generate funds for the organisation and give them the freedom to make progression without relying on donations from volunteers.
In less than two weeks’ time, I will be leaving for another trip to South East Asia and hope that with the help of others I will be able to contribute towards CHD’s attempt at becoming sustainable. If you’d like to make a donation to CHD, no matter how big or small, it will be hugely appreciated and will bring the organisation one step closer to becoming sustainable. If you’d like to know more about the project or get involved, don’t hesitate in contacting myself or CHD directly.
Thank you for taking to the time to read my blog, I look forward to sharing more about the progress at CHD in a few weeks’ time 🙂
As our four weeks of teaching, volunteering and taking part in the general day to day business at Children with Hope for Development comes to a close, it’s clear that not only the children have learned a lot, but we … Continue reading