Usually when I’m in Cambodia I love spending time with Cambodian people, rarely do I bother chilling with tourists or even many expats for that matter. But yesterday was different – and I had one of the most rewarding and awesome days of the trip so far. Myself, Scott and Hayden met an English couple Henry and Isadora when we were in Sihanoukville and they got in touch when they arrived in Siem Reap as they were so keen to see 1step’s work. We picked them up at midday and headed out to our school.
It was such a lovely experience showing people who cared and were interested so much in the incredible work we have achieved. No students were there but I had a brief chat about what we do and they met the incredible Son. After I introduced Son and explained what he did for the kids in the community I too found myself blown away with the reality of it when I said it out loud. Spending hours every single day providing education for the next generation – a man although not bubbly and cuddly, of incredible dedication and generosity. After that we headed back to the learning space and showed them our dream for the future – a space for our students and the wider teenage world to chill, learn and collaborate. A dream that is becoming reality very quickly as we continue to push on with preparation. To top off the day we all went to Phare, The Cambodian Circus. The long term readers know that I LOVE Phare, and go a billion times every trip. But again it was so nice to be with other people watching them in disbelief as to the talent, strength and incredible fun that is Phare. It was a very healthy day for me to realise that not all backpackers who drink every evening are rats, in fact most would probably like to get more out of their trip aswell, like to see the ‘real M=Cambodia’ and to be shown what is truly entertainment in Siem Reap. It was genuinely touching to hear Henry and Isadora say how much they loved the day and how it was one of the best days of their holiday. All because we took a few hours to show them the incredible country Cambodia is when you get away from Pub Street.
In return for such an awesome day, Henry and Isadora told me such an incredible story. They were on the beach in Sihanoukville and met a small kid selling bracelets – like everyone does. They said to the kid how nice his football jersey was and he went on to tell them that an Australia friend of his bought it for him and how he does awesome stuff for him every time he comes to Cambodia. Out of shear chance, from meeting me the night before, they asked the kid if the mans name was Jake? And Jo, the coolest little kid ever said YES!! And went on to tell them all about me. It was one of the most touching stories I have heard and really made me feel like I must be doing something right. As I talked to Henry and Issy about 1step1life I had such a sense of pride, to explain how we are breaking down complexity barriers and getting on with the job. How we give everyone an equal chance regardless of any background. There really are so few charities that genuinely operate with no strings attached and I am so proud to promote ourselves as one of them. On a wider scale I was so proud to promote Cambodia, promote Siem Reap and to show them the incredible work other charities are doing such as Phare.
Today was another awesome day. We dropped the bicycle’s back from where we rented them. Did a three-person cram onto my motoråbike for the ride home. Then did some shopping for the learning space, new fridge, lounge, fans and kettle – productive day if I have ever seen one. On top of that we also donated blood. It was so awesome to have a chat with the blood nurse who was telling us that most Cambodians are B+ and they only had a mere 5 bags left in their supply. Fortunately myself, Scott and Hayden were all B+ and she was so excited. Another prime example of how the tinniest of efforts and thought can literally save / change a life.
Until tomorrow everyone