Goodbye, good luck and thank you to Dara

Goodbye, good luck and thank you to Dara

Everyone who has volunteered at Treak Community Centre in Cambodia will know the headteacher, Mr Dara.  After 14 years at Treak, at the end of February Dara moved on from Treak to start an exciting new teaching job at Westgate International School in Siem Reap.

Dara with Salin, Michael and Sary on his last day at Treak

Dara started working at Treak straight after school and his first role was as a volunteer in the nursery.  This was in 2010 and over the years he rose through the ranks to become head teacher in 2018.

All who met Dara know him as a passionate teacher, completely focused on doing the best he can for his students.  He worked long and tirelessly for Treak Community Centre and he admitted that he moved on to his new post with very mixed feelings. 

We at people and places have a lot to thank Dara for.  He has been responsible for writing placement outlines for volunteers and has always managed to create meaningful roles for them which utilise their skills while at the same time making sure their work is meaningful for the school and contributes to rather than interrupts school life – a real skill! 

For Dara, all new ideas brought by volunteers are new opportunities.  His philosophy is that children in Cambodia should be entitled to exactly the same range of opportunities and experiences as children in other parts of the world – whether that be a different more participative style of teaching, a completely new school subject or a new understanding of how children learn.

During the pandemic schools in Cambodia, as in all countries around the world, were forced to close.  After a while, in countries such as the UK and Australia, teaching went online.  In many developing countries this was not possible – children generally do not have computers at home and Internet is not always reliable.  Most children in Cambodia also do not have computers at home – but this was not good enough for Dara!  Students in other countries were receiving some form of education so his students should have the same – they just had to figure out how this could be done.  They might not all have computers but most families have a phone – so Facebook groups were set up for each class, initially to share links for educational materials and videos children could watch at home – but soon online teaching was taking place, with everyone connecting on their phones.  And why not include volunteers too?  Dara was instrumental in our discussions about online volunteering and the first volunteers to join online classes joined Dara’s classes at Treak – in fact he even came up with the word e-volunteering!

By chance I was in Cambodia in February so was delighted to be able to attend Dara’s farewell.  As I said to him then, it has been a real privilege for us to work with him.  We join the staff of Treak in saying that we are obviously sad to lose him but also very proud of him in securing his new job and wish him all the best for the future. 

with all the staff at Treak

If you would like to find out how you can volunteer at Treak Community Centre take a look here

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