Naturally, I start my first entry at the airport. I’m bored, waiting for the flight to board. First stop: Seoul, South Korea – a mere 11-hour flight. Help.
Since the beginning of the project, my plans in Indochina have slightly altered. Instead of going straight to the Anjali House in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I was invited to stay at an orphanage in a rural area just outside of Phnom Penh called A Greater Hope (http://www.agreaterhopeorphanage.org) that hosts about 30 kids. The founders, Kit and Ream Carson contacted me a little over a month ago to see if I could possibly stop by while I was in Cambodia in order to take photographs of their orphanage and their children for their website. Of course, this invitation was greeted with glee and so that will be my very first stop in Cambodia! The plan so far for the first couple of days is for them to show me around Phnom Penh and take me to famous sights like the Killing Fields and the King’s Palace, and then we will head to their orphanage where I will be staying for the rest of the week. There is one other volunteer so far at the orphanage: Courtney Cain, who is a 21-year-old girl from Missouri who has been there for a week now. I’ve been in contact with her and have read her blog so far – it seems that I’m in for quite an adventure!
The next step is to head by bus to the Anjali House, an NGO/school located in a smaller commune of Siem Reap, which is the village right outside of the Angkor Wat temples. I will be staying there for three weeks teaching and running some sort of an arts and crafts program. As of right now, I have NO idea what I’ll be doing specifically, the volunteers are trained upon arrival. There are approximately 80 kids there, from 5-16 years old. It’s run as a school and not as an orphanage – they take in orphans and children with difficulties, who would not normally have the educational opportunity, to get them off the streets in the daytime and prepare them for better jobs in the future. Many of the orphans and struggling children there would probably just become beggars or street workers had they not had access to an education. There is also an incredible amount of child trafficking and sex slavery there, which is one of the biggest problems Cambodian children may face, alongside catching fatal diseases such as AIDS or being victimized from landmine explosions, remnant of the Vietnam war.
After the stay at the Anjali House, I will have an extra week left to travel or do whatever else may come up. I’m strongly considering taking a bus to Ho Chi Minh and then flying to Hanoi to visit Ha Long Bay and other local sites – Vietnam sounds like a nice way to end the trip.