Alongside Geography teacher and Global to Local Coordinator Miss Sally-Ann Miles, Nell spent an eye-opening ten days exploring this country of incredible contrasts and investigating the kind of grassroots education projects which can help these communities continue to grow and thrive.
Miss Miles tells all about this life-changing experience…
“It was a trip of extremes – sadness, joy, poverty, wealth, desperation and hope. The hope was in part delivered by Edukid, a south-west based educational charity who organised the trip.
We travelled as part of a delegation of 16 people comprising of staff from various schools including three MIST funded establishments, sponsors of pupils in Cambodia and three students – who were all overwhelmed and deeply moved by this life changing experience.
This incredible journey began with a warm welcome from university students in Phnom Phen who are currently sponsored by the charity, and we were treated by them to a seriously tasty home cooked meal and a boat trip on the mighty Mekong River. Here we met `Bonnie’, a medical student whose education has been sponsored by a family on the trip through Edukid. Bonnie came from the railway slum in Phnom Phen and is now two years away from qualifying as a doctor; a truly remarkable yet humble young lady, and a real story of triumph over adversity.
Whilst many jump on the back of a tuk tuk for a fun-filled sightseeing tour, our journey saw us heading almost an hour outside of Phnom Phen to visit the village where one of the sponsored university students `Srey Da’ grew up. After looking round their village home, we headed into the classroom at the make-shift school where Srey Da and her mum teach extra lessons. It was a delight to teach at this inspirational school, which Srey Da has been running since she was just 13 years of age, and Nell’s blow up globes were a big hit during Geography.
Travelling 3 hours south of the city to spend the day teaching in two village schools sponsored by Edukid, proved a real eye-opener. The journey was an experience in itself with a myriad of memorable moments, taking us through city flood waters, extensive rice fields and allowing us to observe daily village life from the bus, before encountering the full throttle of rush hour traffic (which was chaotic but surprisingly calm) on the return to the capital.
There was no let-up of the pace over the next 10 days with a jam-packed schedule including a home stay in a traditional Cambodian stilt house (built to avoid the extensive flooding which takes place every year during the rainy season); visits to memorial sites linked to the infamous `Killing Fields’ perpetrated by Pol Pot which proved an incredibly sobering experience; observing the handing out of Edukid School bag kits which are earned by students who attend regular government school and after-school lessons; and so much more.
It was a life affirming, whirlwind of a trip which challenged senses, stereotypes and seriously inspired both myself and Nell.
To encourage our pupils to find out more, get involved in forthcoming Cambodia linked projects and fundraising as well as considering making the journey for themselves, we will be talking to them throughout the year as we begin to form plans for a return trip sometime over the next couple of years.
It’s an exciting time for the school as we start to develop links with villages and schools in Cambodia and will we keep you up to date as these relationships continue to flourish.”