by Sallie Grayson Programme Director
So many memories from my recent trip to Cambodia – here are a few highlights
Dusk just outside Battanbang. A quiet murmuring, growing louder and louder as a couple of dark specks appeared from the mouth of the cave. There was a prolonged gasp from those of us that were experiencing this incredible spectacle for the first time, and then a mass, slowly mounting in size. The bats were flying in a perfect curved formation…… they continued to fly out at a steady pace for at least 45 minutes. One of my “WOW I am so lucky” moments to add to the likes of my donkey shower all alone on the escarpment above the Savannah in Swaziland (a tale to be told another time)
“Will you be scared if you ride out to Treak on the back of my motorcycle” asked Sophea (our local partner’s programme support officer).
“Yes” – I said -” but not for myself” – picture this…. I am 5 ft 8 and will never see 13 stone again – Sophea is about 5ft tall and will never see 8 stone. With a beautiful, knowing, smile she handed me my helmet and we set off on the 4km trip to Treak – potholes, mud, dust, errant lorries, tuk tuks, cows, hawkers and funeral processions – all negotiated calmly, gently and with that beautiful smile – and this is how I travelled to Treak most mornings – laden with laptop and rucksack – and on my return journeys sometimes with 3 bags of shopping nestled at Sophea’s feet. Thanks Sophea for all your help during my stay. Sophea is the person who guides and supports our volunteers during their stay in Siem Reap.
Just about everyone travels to Treak by bicycle or motorcycle – and therefore Treak needs a large parking area – to date that has been at the front of the centre but very soon the parking area will become Salin’s (Treak Project Manager) dream kitchen area where they will be able to teach the children about nutrition and hygiene and science and numeracy through cooking – as well as creating skills for the community and an income stream for the centre.
Where to start with the leaps and bounds that Treak has taken in recent years. Now they are supporting 500 children and their families -Treak now owns its land and buildings – has one of the best libraries where the children queue each day for the opportunity to read and play with educational toys – a computer room – a skills centre – a passionate and visionary young head master – and plans for a general studies curriculum – an expansion to their garden and the relocation and expansion of the kitchen. Salin and Dara want me to let you all know how much they value the work of people and places volunteers and they are looking forward to working with future volunteers – to share skills – to help them build the future they want – they have a clear vision of what that future is – opportunity not dependency – the opportunities we take for granted – I overheard Salin’s response to the question ” What do you want for the future?” – she replied…….. “Just the same opportunity to succeed as you”