Hey guys! I’m writing to you from Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the Leapers have spent no more than a week working at a school and exploring the exotic beaches that the province has to offer! Sihanoukville certainly felt different to the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap. The region was a strange mishmash of city, countryside and uninhabited space. Although driving through the shantytowns of Siem Reap was a shocking eye-opener to the poverty of the countryside, the fishing towns of Sihanoukville was an overwhelming picture of desolation. On our way to the boat to go fishing, we walked through what looked like a landfill site, in which wooden shacks stood in their midst. To think that locations such as these exist for a percentage of the world’s children to grow up in presents a terrifyingly real problem. Although documentaries on poverty are available to educate those who wish to learn more about how the other half of the world live, it cannot be denied that these viewers cannot have a real and emotional connection to what they are viewing. The sad reality is that some only ponder upon the real issues in the world without having any inclination to do something about it. I think governmental and non-governmental programmes such as the one I am participating in should be advertised with much more fervour as an opportunity to help the plight of the less fortunate whilst also being able to experience different cultures in the world, which will undoubtedly contribute to a persons worldview and their attitude towards multiculturalism.
The school at Sihanoukville tells us of much the same story. With leaking roofs and a lack of fans, the classrooms are by no means a comfortable and convenient space for learning. The Leapers contributed to tidying up the school by picking up rubbish around the site, as well as painting the walls to make the school look more presentable. Whilst doing so, we had the opportunity to talk to many of the children who could speak English – those of them that could had taken classes from outside the school – and learn about their lives. Since the school was located in a fishing village, their parents tended to work in the fish-market community, which meant that their income was irregular and the family vulnerable. This was noticeable in the fact that these young students were already thinking about devoting themselves to medicinal or educational careers which would provide them with a regular source of income. Despite the school’s condition, their ambitions were not dampened. Further, the team taught classes about the impact of global warming and what we can do to reduce it, as well as the importance of hygiene. We learnt that these children had never before been taught the fundamentals on issues of waste and overuse of unsustainable resources, which, sadly, will impact the third world much more severely than our own.
The Leapers enjoyed leisure time with the students; there was a Cambodia vs The Leap football match, which went to penalties. We also had an opportunity to visit the beautiful Koh Rong island, in which myself, Helen and Meg enjoyed a snorkelling trip. The white-sanded beaches in Sihanoukville are the most stunning I have ever seen. My favourite was Otres beach; a few of us decided to go on a bike ride to visit it. The sun was setting and the calm waters were simply beautiful. The views on the journey back were magnificent, with stretches of field and lake either side of us. This simple trip was by far my most enjoyed; despite the devastation caused to the country by the Khmer Rouge regime, it is evident that the pure, raw beauty of Cambodia cannot be overpowered by any horror that might tear the country apart.
The Leapers will next be heading to Phnom Penh for our final destination. There, we will visit the Killing Fields and prison camps, where the Khmer Rouge regime committed most of their atrocities. In my final blog post I will be sure to tell you a few things that I have learnt, and any thoughts that I have brought away with me. Hope to see you then.
Until next time,