Humanitarian tourism in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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It's said travel broaden the mind.... certainly well said. When travel include socio-humanitarian undertaking , I like to say it broadens the heart as well. During one of my holidays to visit the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap (Cambodia) during my daughters' school break... I took the opportunity to "weave" this into the trip. As my children were of the age where they are just able about to understand the "myriad" sides of life, I felt it was the ideal inclusion to our vacation. It's about time my children experience the other side of life, appreciate blessings in life and not take things for granted.

But which orphanages to choose ? There are plenty in Siem Reap!  My criteria for making the most of my contribution was simple. The values of the orphanage must be honest to life and the children...and it must be off the beaten track and not along touristy paths (those along tourists paths are usually already "rich" from donations). I had the fortune of a having a great local guide, Mr. Sowanna Yun (tour guide and owner of his travel firm, who helped me select the right one. And I also had the the fortune of having great colleagues who, on short notice, contributed to my "donation chest" to make a bigger impact.

I noticed invariably, most of the orphanages in Siem Reap tended to be set up by well-meaning foreigners. Also orphanages there are not strictly for orphans. The children in the institutions may be from rural families which are too poor to raise their children, or pay for schooling. While others may be plucked from the streets by the orphanage staff and helpers to prevent from being exploited by unhealthy elements in society. The main thrust is that those in genuine need of assist...

One of the two orphanages we visited - Savong's Orphanage ...


The mud path to Savong's


Part of the orphanage compound.


 Lovely to know that Singapore school XinMin Secondary did great social work here...



It was a Sunday that we visited...the classes by volunteers expat teachers ,were off and the children "entertained" us...



Our humble donation to the orphanage - rice (I chose the best quality (USD50/sack), as the children meal don't have much meats or fish which are usual fare to us. So at least the better rice make their meals slightly better) & cooking condiments, etc. We donated another batch to another orphanage a day earlier.


Everything counts.... the currency on the board is in USD... yes...a sack of 50kg rice average USD35, to last the orphanage maybe 2 weeks)


The man in the picture (extreme left) is like the children de facto "father"... fatherly figure


My 9-year old daughter beside a 11 year old girl - my daughter will never forget this moment...


Angelic eyes.....


My wife with KinWan (about 17 years old) ... her spoken English was pitch perfect! Kudos to the volunteer expat teachers. There's long we do not turn a blind eye...


Helper getting firewood for kitchen...


Saying farewell....


My heart goes out to the children....

To my children...the UNESCO Angkor Wat or Tonle Sap, the sights were awesome indeed...but the highlight of the trip was the visit to the orphanges. We keep talking about it even now... perhaps another time in the future...Definitely. In a recent trip by my wife's friends to the orphanage, our contribution of KFC that morning were set aside and not eaten immediately....saved for dinner as it was a rare treat and they have save it for the main meal of the day.

I had this cliche to add before closing this blog... "Count our Blessings". Do pay forward... think about socio-humanitarian holidays in future.



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