Doing something useful

Yesterday I wondered about ethical tourism. On the way back from Chong Kneas I cycled past the Acodo orphanage on the edge of Siem Reap. They do a nightly folk dance show. It’s free to watch but they’d appreciate a donation.

After dinner I cycled back for the show and it was very good. The orphanage houses 65 underprivileged/abandoned/vulnerable children aged from four years and upwards. It provides accommodation and food, sends the children to school and teaches them English language and traditional Khmer dance. The children plainly love to dance.

The paid staff are all Khmer but they are always in need of volunteers to help with teaching English and assisting with practical projects. I’ve arranged to do a photography workshop this weekend but there are three days before then for which I had no plans. So I offered to go and help for a few days.

One of the long term volunteers has a plan for the orphanage to make their own recycled paper and card. The children will write thank-you cards and letters to sponsors on their home made paper. Today I made some of the paper-making frames they’ll use. Half of the children go to an outside school in the morning, the other half go in the afternoon. During breaks between lessons some of them came and “helped” with the carpentry. While the younger ones were happy just hammering wood chips flat a couple of the older ones showed promise as future carpenters.

This evening a group of us staying at Happy Guesthouse decided to go out for dinner together. Shortly before we planned to leave the heavens opened. The rain was so heavy it soon overwhelmed the capacity of the drains and the driveway, dining and reception areas started to flood. The staff started trying to bail out the water with buckets and bowls, and pump it out with a petrol driven pump. The water level kept rising. Within about ten minutes there were three inches of water in the dining area, more in the driveway. So the guests joined in too. With over a dozen people helping out we managed to keep up with the rain. As it eased off after another quarter of an hour we got the upper hand and by the time it stopped there was only an inch of water left which the drains were able to cope with.

Useful twice in one day. Good stuff!

A few more guests decided to join the dinner expedition and the guesthouse provided free tuk-tuks to take us into town. We ate in the best value street cafe with the smiliest waitress on Pub Street. I’ll be eating there again tomorrow and I probably won’t be the only one.

And now, after the rain – the frog chorus. It’s hard to believe how noisy they are!

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