My Developing World Connections trip to Cambodia was such an amazing and eye-opening experience that I will always remember. The first day we touched down in the capital city, Phnom Penh, everyones jaws hit the floor. We were a group of 9 university students, some of us never stepped a foot outside of our province. It was a whole different world-the streets were overflowing with hustle and bustle, cars and moto cycles swerving and dodging faster than ever, people yelling,crying,laughing,eating, bathing, cooking, sleeping,praying.. you name it, it was happeining right in front of our eyes, all at once. Within minutes, I was in love- with it all. Our DWC trip started out with a few days in Phnom Penh. What the DWC trip let us experience was so much more than the average traveller. Not only did we get to visit the poorest areas in the city, we were able to bond with these families. We were informed about the whats going on in the areas, what the families struggles were, and what goes on everyday for these people to survive. Aside from the visits to the local areas, we also had the opportunity visit the tourist areas of town and learn about the history of the Khmer and the recent genocide.
The best part of the whole trip would be the time we spent in the village. We stayed in a perfectly rustic wooden house. It wasn't your average house, but it suited the village perfectly. We had the most amazing local cook on-site for us for all our meals. We got to our jobsites each day by bicycle. In only 3 short weeks we were able to build a dream home made of wood, thatch and sheet metal, 2 lantrines made of brick and mortar, planted over 5000 trees, planted 2 peanut fields, and taught numerous hours of English at the local school. The host partner also gave us the opportunity to make cococut jewlery and scarves (looming). I think what made the village work so memorable was the fact that we were working alongside the locals. While building the house, the family that was recieving the house helped us the whole time. This allowed us to bond with the family, and made it so much more special when we handed the house over.
The host partner that DWC works with was absolutely amazing. They were so accomodating and caring. The gave us so many opportunities that we would of never been able to experience withut them. They were always there for answers, and always made us feel safe.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself. It was one of the best trips I have ever been on, and really came home feeling as if I accomplished something, and really helped someone- in fact a whole village. I would most definately go back, and planning on going in the near future. The food throughout the whole trip was delicious. As I mentioned earlier, we had a cook in the village who made amazing authentic khmer dishes. She was also very accomodating to vegetarians and celiacs. Throughout the whole trip I felt safe and looked after. I never came across a point during the trip that i felt I was ever in danger or uncomfortable. I felt the program cost was extremely reasonable. The trip in cost around $1900 + airfare for 4 weeks. This included everything, from accomodation to transportation, food to working supplies and equiptment. The one thing I would of done differently was pack lighter. I slightly over packed, and really what was needed was only the essential items, and a few change of clothes. The one thing I wish I had packed would be more bug spray. The bug spray in Cambodia isnt as strong as the potent stuff we can get in Canada.
This trip has showed me how amazing and beautiful people are. How resilient and strong the Khmer are. How one can be so happy and peacefull with so little.
It's not the history, the beautiful country, delicious food or the hot weather thats bringing me back to Cambodia. Its the people who live there.