To continue from Day FOUR Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day FIVE experience and impressions:
Toilet Building reflection – Day 5
Group muy (1) Village Day 1
After a quick stop where we are staying to drop off our bags, group one set off to build some toilets!
Split down the middle, the two halves of Team muy made their way to where they would begin. Constructing the toilet involved digging into the clay like earth to create a 1x1m wide hole, roughly about 2 metres deep. With the intention of placing 2 concrete cylinders as the base for the toilet. After a brief first session, the team was forced to take a break, while waiting for a storm to pass. Returning to a hole full of water, everyone remained optimistic and excited to get dirty.
After a good hour of excavation, we were ready to put the 2 concrete cylinders in. 1st one went in nice and easy. The second unfortunately was too heavy. For a lack of metal reinforcement within the concrete led to the immediate crumbling of the cylinder below. Forcing us to remove all the concrete from the 2m deep hole. Fortunately however, help arrived soon after, with a fresh cylinder to put atop of the one that was still in-tact.
Other than this slight hiccup, the construction was a success, with mixed cement and bricks ready for use. The group coming back together to return home for the night.
Day 5, Team 2. Arrival at the village; teaching at 48 Couleurs School.
Today we left the hotel to go to a village just outside of Siem Reap. We are all sleeping in a building that was built by the school a few years ago. The village is a totally new experience for lots of people as the people in this village are farmers who have to grow their own food if they want to eat. We got told a story about one of the families in this village who took a loan for 15000 American dollars. For someone who makes 2 or 3 dollars a day this is a lot of money. They were going to use the loan to fund a pig farm so they could have a steady source of income; however, sadly the father fell sick and all the money was used to try and make him better. Unfortunately he died not long after. The people living in the village are so empathetic and are always looking after each other; sharing even if they don’t have much to share. For lunch and dinner the villagers cooked delicious (chhnganh) meals made from the produce they grow (vegies, pigs and chickens). At night a bunch of the village children came out to play with us; playing card games or football. The kids were only about 3-5 years old and by the end of the night were crawling all over everyone and getting piggyback rides all around.
Today we left the comfort of the hotel and went into the village to experience village life. When we stepped out of the bus, it was a culture shock, as we could easily see the difference from the city, but we could also see the resilience and the improvement this village has undergone, as we slept in the house Ivanhoe built in 2014. We also heard stories of the challenges the community has gone through, such as how previous Ivanhoe contributions didn’t always work out, sometimes for things out of their control. When we went to the school, it was a lot different to the Starfish school we went to before. The complex consisted of just two buildings holding around 6 classrooms with a toilet all fairly new and with a lot of works around. When we started teaching there were not enough classrooms so we had to teach outside but luckily there was a roof, as at 2 o’clock, like most days it pourd down raining for an hour, and then it quickly turned back to overwhelming heat. When we were back at the village, they were all very kind to us and treated like we were family, living with them. They would also give us amazing food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sacrificing some of their comforts for us.
On the bus ride to the village, I was not feeling great and was pretty nervous regarding our 3 night stay. When we got there, however, I did not have any time to be nervous or uncertain. Curt and the rest of those that lived here were so welcoming and kind to us. I am amazed that they are willing to provide for 30+ of us to eat, sleep, and live here. Their hospitality and general attitude is inspiring. We spent a bit of time getting settled unto our rooms, having some morning tea and just getting a feel for where we would be living in the days to come. Our first teaching lesson went really well, although it was difficult at first, the kids were really eager to learn. It was an absolute blast trying to create simplified versions of games to best accomodate their english skills. In between the first and second teaching session, I kicked the soccer ball around with about 6 of the local village kids. We could not understand each other but it didn’t matter because we were just having fun kicking the ball. Finally, teaching the older kids was a highlight of the day. They understood us pretty well, and even when they did not they were very quick learners and were great fun. I am really looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow.
Team 3 Tuesday 20 June by Samira and Lucas
Hi guys!! It’s Lucas and Samira here! Just checking in from the Samrong Village- on the outskirts of Siem Reap. Today has been long, but worthwhile. We started off the day at our beautiful hotel in Siem Reap (We miss it so much), we then undertook the perilous bus ride of a worrisome 45 minutes until which we arrived at this quaint village. Our living quarters are somewhat of a change, to say the least. The boys are currently sleeping on the veranda (mostly) while the girls have a MASSIVE room to share and have all the space in the world. However, the boys are making the most of it.
Once we arrived at the village we were pleasantly greeted by Sam, the founder of Angkor Kids Center (AKC). We then took a walk around the village which is full of luscious greenery and local folk. After this we split of in two teams, where we travelled in the village bus for a cheeky look at the mushroom farm and the local etchers where we had the opportunity to carve our names into a Cambodian leaf. After we ventured out in the sweltering heat we returned to our accommodation before teaching an English class to the local Cambodian children for 1 hour – this was very fun to say the least. The village made us a traditional Cambodian dinner which was amazing, thereafter we partook in the making of rice noodles. Moreover, we ground rice into a paste – tomorrow morning we will make our dough into noodles and eat them for lunch! Today was amazing and we will never forget it, it has been truly eye-opening and helps us to remember how lucky we are.
Overall, today was fantastic with lots of learning opportunities to be had along the way. We are all extremely appreciative of the locals for the lengths that they have gone to, in accommodating us!
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