Now I’m not going to preach about doing amazing things for charity on holiday; I didn’t get sponsored to do anything fabulous for anyone, and the things I took part in were small, but every little helps. I was pleased when booking this trip to find out that the company I booked with (G Adventures) support certain charity projects, when you are booking you give money towards these projects automatically, and then you get certain activities with the charities inclusive with your tour along the way. (I can make a separate blog post on my specific tour if anyone would like?).
One of the foundations is the New Hope Training Centre and School in Cambodia; a school for primary and secondary school children from a slum area nearby, teaching things like English, maths, music and operating a vocational training restaurant, all run by Planeterra. The cookery school is wonderful, they run their own restaurant which is open to the public, learn service skills and gain hospitality qualifications and cook some of the best food I had during my month in Asia.
We headed down to the school complex on Tuk-tuks – these are one of the most wonderful and sometimes terrifying things in Cambodia, and usually a cheap way to get around. We were shown around the three story building, with a red tiled roof, the sun setting to the front of the complex, and into a classroom. The walls are plastered with brightly coloured posters giving the animal names in English, the numbers or the countries of the world, and our class were doing some quite advanced English to do with questions and answers. The Khmer language looks unbearably difficult to learn by the way. I spoke to a boy who was one of ten siblings, and another one of four, both of whose parents kept animals on a small farm and grew enough food for them to live off, mostly. They said the foundation who set up the school also sends food packages home to the families if the children come to school; it’s a great incentive, otherwise the family loses a pair of hands which could have helped them get together enough food.
Ex-students often come back to be teachers here, or sometimes end up working for G-Adventures in some capacity, and ex-G-adventures travellers often end up volunteering here too. I like the sustainability of it.
On the other side of the courtyard is a walk-in clinic too. They deal with all sorts here, they have crutches and wheel chairs lying around, a small waiting area, a few beds upstairs and plenty of stations to go and see a doctor in relative privacy. For lots of people who visit this is their only option for health care.
Then we get taken to the restaurant. There is a bar and the bar staff can all mix a great cocktail, but they serve beer and soft drinks too. We have vegetable chips, spicy nuts and fried crickets to start – I actually quite like the crickets, they just taste of what they’ve been cooked in once you pull the legs off. Then we have an absolute banquet. Dish after dish of rice, curries, fried meat and salads adorn the table, and when I’m just about ready for a lie down they bring out the fruit for dessert. If you know where the fruit has come from, that is, you know that the fruit is safe and not washed in dodgy water, the fruit here is the nicest and richest tasting fruit ever, so much more so than anything I have at home.
Like I said, it’s not like I dedicated all of my travels to charity, but I do like to help where I can, and I’m really glad we were able to support this.