While in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I visited an after school English language program that works to help break the cycle of poverty in this area by giving a head start for future job opportunities. Help support these kids!
While on a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia in March 2019, I met the most amazing new friend - Mr. Young. While he was our tour guide, and showed us all the world-famous sights like Angkor Wat, we also asked him many questions about his own childhood, as he was so close to our own age. We learned much about the struggles of the beautiful and warm people of Cambodia and how hard it is to get a job with only the government schooling.
He invited us on our last day to visit the Peacock Learning Centre, an after-school program for local village children that teaches them English, Chinese and computer skills to supplement their minimal local education. It was started by his family out of their home to help future generations of his village (Spean Chreav - just 5 km from the center of Siem Reap). It only costs $2 a month for parents in the local village to send them to this after school program (this money goes to pay the teachers and to fund school supplies). Students attend every day to learn these additional skills so they have better job prospects in the future, which would be in the tourism and service industries, which is the main option in this part of Cambodia outside of farming. However, for many parents in Cambodia that $2 per month is beyond their means. According to World Bank research, 45% of the population in Siem Reap live under the poverty line. The average household income in many parts of Cambodia is less than $1 a day.
It is my goal to help the PLC raise money through generous donors in other parts of the world so that they can continue to break the cycle of poverty in Cambodia and leave the world a better place than they found it.
I have plans to go back to visit Siem Reap for more than a week in March of 2020, with a group of 16 Americans (and one Brit!) for a yoga retreat through my retreat travel company, Above Yoga. A donation is being made on behalf of every Above Yoga participant, and they will have the opportunity to visit the Peacock Learning Centre, and interact with the amazing students as I did. I am in constant communication with my contacts there at the school and cannot wait to return.
I was horrified to learn about some additional context that has caused much of the plight of the Cambodia people in the last several decades, which has separated them in prosperity from their neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand. Due to the Khmer Rouge regime and the genocide of the 1970s, and the ensuing civil war, nearly a whole generation of people in Cambodia lost their lives. Many other lost limbs due to the many landmines that were scattered across the country during the Vietnam War happening by their border. The following population boom in peace time after the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnam War means that the majority of the population is under 35 years old. There are very few old people in Cambodia – only 5% of the population in Siem Reap is over 61 years of age – the average life expectancy is only 63 years of age (still nearly double what it was 35 years ago). As of 2010, only 20% of housing in Siem Reap was on the electricity grid and 35% of houses still did not have access to safe drinking water.
In Cambodia, hospitality is ingrained into the culture, as we experienced when visiting the school and the local village. Many Cambodian people are very keen to share their food, language, culture and customs with visitors, as they are well aware that it is not exported across the globe in the same way as in other countries, and so the majority of visitors will never experience it outside of Cambodia. Cambodian’s are intensely proud of their country and their heritage – and there is a push to keep alive many of the old traditions that were very nearly wiped out during the Khmer Rouge.
I hope that one day you travel across the world to experience the breathtaking beauty of Cambodia and its people yourself, but until then, I promise your money will make huge improvements for some of those who need it the most - the next generation.
Thank you for reading and for your consideration.
- Anna Egleston Bove
Owner + Chief Zen Operator of Above Yoga
Can’t donate? Please share. Even a quick share on Facebook can help.
The average share raises $97.
Looking to raise money?