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Published: October 13th 2009
Since arriving in Cambodia, we'd felt really touched and overwhelmed by everyone we'd met, and as such decided that we wanted to really get involved with something while we were here. We stumbled across a flyer for Cambodia Orphan Fund in a restaurant, checked them out on the Internet, and decided that we should volunteer with them. On our first day, we met up with the other volunteers and they were all really sound, as well as the children who who super cute. The 34 children who live there all go to Khmer school in the morning, and then over 100 children from the local area come in learn English. As Robbie is an artist, Nick, the founder of COF, decided that he should do a mural on the wall as you enter the gate. By the second day we'd started stripping the walls, and were absolutely overwhelmed when all of the children got involved and were stripping the wall with us. It was a really good opportunity to get to know the children and their personalties quite quickly. I think we both felt really privileged that they'd all got so involved with the project.
During that evening, we could
hear a storm and some heavy rain outside, and when we got up in the morning, the Happy Guest House was flooded in the reception. The owners were laughing about it, asking if we liked the new swimming pool, but it wasn't until we left the guest house and went into town itself that we noticed the full extent of the flooding. Once we'd waded through the waters to get to Osborne House, we were met with two feet of water everywhere, and even flooded classrooms. Because of this, school was off, and we sat with the children and played some games and did some drawing. In the floods, we saw scorpions, toads, spiders and snakes, who'd all gone for some higher ground around the orphanage.
After a few days, the floods hadn't got any better, if anything, the waters had risen higher all around Siem Reap. The river shed it banks, and since then things started to get worse. Despite this, all of the people we passed were all really happy, and the kids were all plying happily in the waist high water. The people here really showed us how lucky we are with their attitude to the
situation they were in. Even after five days of flooding, the people we passed were all still smiling. There were also blackouts around the city. Due to all of the flooding, the children were all moved from Osborne House, to Nick's house in the countryside. When we went to there we split the children into groups and did a range of activities with them. It was a pleasure to spend time with them as they are all so well behaved.
We also had a trip to another school that will be opening quite soon. This site was in a village, and once there we sanded down the desks and benches. It was really good to get some real team work on. During that afternoon, we went swimming with all of the children and it was a real highlight of our time volunteering. By the time the last day with the children came around, we were really sad to leave the children, but they are all so happy and really used to volunteers coming and going. When we were given a tour of the other new site that will be opening as a school, we were greeted by lots of
local kids who were pretty cheeky but super cute as well.
We've really enjoyed our time in Siem Reap, it was definitely one of our favourite places that we have visited. Every person that we met had an interesting story to tell. The people of the country have endured so much suffering, and yet they are all so kind and open.
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