I came to Cambodia to do some volunteer work and help poor and/or homeless children before continuing my journey around the world. Unfortunately for circumstances beyond my control I not only had to give up my position next week, but I also have to fly home and end the trip abruptly early (Everything happens for a reason as I always say, even though I’m gutted that I have to stop so early into my trip). Regardless Paul (Give it to me I’m worff it) kept me on in an ‘advisory role’, since I was the only one in the team so far with genuine teaching experience in a third world country with limited resources, and last Saturday we had a meeting with the owner of a coffee shop in Phnom Penh called ‘Brewhouse’ with the hope of securing a sponsor for this specific teaching camp in Phnom Penh.
We sat down a few hours early to discuss what we were going to say to the guy. Me, Paul and a Cambodian teacher by the name of Puthi started talking about what we should say, and I said to them that they just needed to be honest and prove that they weren’t some fly by night company looking to make a quick buck, but a legit non profit company that genuinely wants to help.
The owner of Brewhouse then came to join us and introduced himself as Vibol. I took an immediate liking to Vibol; when you’ve been in Asia for as long as I have you tend to notice that quite a lot of people who are in good position either have a sense of entitlement or have been handed their ‘power’ so to speak. Vibol was not one of these people at all. He was a self made man who knew where he came from and in turn had a keen interest in giving back to his fellow countrymen. Many foreigners who come to another country usually go there to help, but get disillusioned by the amount of rich people just trying to get richer at the expense of their own people. So it was nice to hear that Vibol used to have a project like this before, and was always interested in helping out the poorer people in Cambodia.
Paul started off explaining about what Away Teams was and how it had plans of becoming a global network for volunteers. Then he seemed a bit tongue tied, and I felt we were losing Vibol’s interest. So I stepped in while Paul composed himself and began to tell him about my experience as a teacher and how most English lessons – quite frankly – were boring as hell. He smiled knowingly and I proceeded to give a fucking ten out of ten speech about how I would be helping Paul and his team with Away Teams’ first project. Including what English games we could play and what songs we can teach them.
It worked! Paul composed himself, got out his baseball bat and knocked it out of the park. Vibol was impressed and agreed to advertise the project (I don’t know if he gave a donation or not, so I’m going to lie to you and say he did…). We then celebrated with doughnuts and Puthi drove us all home.
It’s a shame I won’t be directly involved in the project. But like I said it was out of my control and I wasn’t supposed to be there this time, and at least I’m only an email away if they need advice or a second opinion on something. And I will be emailing Paul with ideas and lesson plans to keep the kids entertained and excited about English. I wish the team all the best, and am looking forward to eventually being an actual part part of the team one day.