Years prior, as a school we were only taking school trips to China, seeing similar things each year, so this year’s trip to Cambodia was a good change. Preceding to the trip, we researched and had some lectures apropos to the Cambodian genocide and Khmer Rouge. Amid the lectures we were split into smaller groups and were given specific topics based on the genocide. In home bases we research more about the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian genocide, we created a shared document and put all our research in it.
Albeit landing we met our guides and headed into Phnom Penh in a customised van, the diamond stitched leather surrounding the sides and top of the car made the van calescent, but the classical music playing from the numerous subwoofers drew my attention away from the heat allowing me to look out the window at Cambodia. A magnitude of motorcycles and mopeds with whole families seated on them flooded the streets. Betwixt the ride we stopped at a huge buffet restaurant divulged in lots of different food, crocodile meat, frog legs and snails were the standout this they served.
After an adequate lunch we set off to the hotel to freshen up after the early flight and the hot van drive. Hours later we embarked to eat our first of many Cambodian meals, the rice was nice. Subsequently we were put into groups and given our leader whom introduced himself and gave us the itinerary for the week.
The next day we went to S-21 which was a school, turned prison under Pol Pot. As soon as we entered the prison, Marc threw up all over the place. The prison was set up with many signs describing and showing what happened to the prisoners back then. One room had various massive cabinets with human skulls of some of the prisoners, many with cracks and dents in them, including children. Another room was covered in ‘mug shots’ of almost all the prisoners kept in P-21. After going round the whole prison we met with two survivors of the P-21, they told us the horrible things the guards did to them such as removing fingers. I ended up buying a book from one of the prisoners. Then we drove to a local NGO which revolved around therapy through the arts. I enjoyed this NGO as it was very relaxing, sitting on big bean bags in an airconditioned room. Additionally This was a good way to end the day as it was a good rest, mentally after walking around the prison, we expressed our feelings and thoughts about the prison as a big group.
Prior to driving to our next place of residence, Kampong Cham, we stopped at the NGO Tiny Toones. Tiny tunes was a really cool NGO as it is a place where kids learn how to breakdance. We were treated to an inspirational performance of breakdancing skills, performed by really young kids.
After a 3 hour drive we arrived at Kampong Cham to do our service learning with the NGO, BSDA. We sat through a presentation of all the good action the BSDA does for the local community. We were split into groups, my group was given the task of planting trees in tires. This included, diging out the dirt and puting it in a wheelbarrow or basket, then placing the dirt in the tires laid out. By the end of 2 really sunny days we managed to fill up a considerable majority of the tires. This was part was probably my favourite as there was alot of moving around and physical activity, which I enjoy. Additionally we were helping the locals as it would have taken them much longer because there weren’t many of them.