Chong Kneas is a community near the Tonle Sap lake, about 15km from Siem Reap town in Cambodia and around 30km from the historic Angkor temple complex. It’s made up of seven fishing villages where around 700 families live. They face many issues, including poverty, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, school dropout, seasonal work and land issues.
Kaliyan Mith Siem Reap (KMSR) began outreach work there five years ago. Based on the high needs of the community, support was extended to include school reintegration, non-formal education, case management and income generation support. A weekly alcohol support group was also established and in January 2014 we opened an office in the area. The children in Chong Kneas don’t have many opportunities to leave their village. Although fairly close to the Angkor Wat temples, many of the children have never visited this historic site before, however with the support of Responsible Travel, that changed just a few weeks ago!
A group of 20 children from the community along with KMSR social workers boarded a bus at 7am on the morning of the trip, with first stop being for breakfast at Nyam Nyam (Let’s Eat). Opened in September 2016, Nyam Nyam is KMSR’s first vocational training restaurant for care givers. It’s a Khmer style restaurant where the children enjoyed a traditional breakfast of pork and rice. They were already excited, as they do not often get the opportunity to eat in restaurants.
Then it was back on to the bus, to restart the day’s adventure!
By 9am they had arrived at Angkor Wat and began a busy hot morning exploring the temple complex, many of them amazed by their first sight of the temples.
After several fascinating hours of not only seeing and walking among the temples, but also learning about the history of the complex from a guide, lunch was held at the Elephant Terrace.
This was followed by games and activities to allow the children to process their experiences.
The visit ended with another guided tour of the Bayon Temple in the afternoon before getting back on the bus for the journey home to Chong Kneas…
As a memento of what had been a unique and wonder-filled day, each child received a folder containing photos of them and their friends, their art work and quotes about their experiences and feelings from the trip.
“I am very happy to visit the temples with my friends and understand more about the history of the temples”
“I was very happy to see the sculptures and take photos with my friends”
“I saw the beautiful sculptures and the top of Angkor Wat temple, it is very nice”
“After lunch we played educational games, this made me feel very happy”