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Humanitarian-tourism in Siem Reap...

Published December 27th, 2011

After an opportune chat sometime ago with a client of my mine, who I served as her parent's property agent, the idea that we could help the local community in the country we are touring, took on a fire that never quite diminished. So it was with this flame that culminated in my recent trip to Siem Reap, the Cambodian city famed for it's "Angelina Jolie's Tombs Raider" Angkor Wat. Ironically, it was the massive flood in Bangkok, which I had initially planned to visit, that rekindled my desire to check out the fabled UNESCO World Heritage Site city.

My brief to my tour guide (Mr. Sowanna Yun, of www.cambodianguide.com) was simple...Angkor Wat, Tonle Sap and at least 2 orphanages...those that are off the beaten track and where donation goes a longer way. A casual chat with my colleagues about my plan to donate something threw up another heart warming episode...several chipped in and my "war chest" grew larger.

Cambodia is one of the world's poorest nations. The civil war from 1970 to 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979 and the Cambodia-Vietnam War from 1978 to 1979 virtually brought Cambodia's economy to her knees. By 1974, even rice had to be imported under adverse warring environment and production of Cambodia's most profitable export crop, rubber, tumbled sharply. The civil unrest also disrupted Cambodia's fledgling manufacturing industry and severely damaged road and rail infrastructures.

Despite the upswings in Siem Reap town largely due to tourism, the province has high levels of poverty with about 37% of the population existing below the poverty line.This meant that many families and communities struggle to provide for their children. Large numbers of parents placed their children in one of the rapidly growing number of private residential child care centres, many of which call themselves orphanages. Around 75% of children in Cambodian “orphanages” are not orphans, but come from destitude families who send their children in the belief that they will be better cared for.

While my "war chest" might not have make much of an impact on the two orphanages we visited, at least the 350kg rice and cooking ingredients will go in some ways to satiate their hunger for a short moment and hopefully, this blog of mine will go in a big way to bring readers' attention to the plights of these under-priviledged children and perhaps perpetuate this cycle of humanitarian tourism.

May the children be blessed, be well taken care of and be offered a fair chance at life....

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With children and their charges at the Orphans & Disabled Association (ODA) - www.orphansdisabledcambodia.org

  • December 9th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/2.8 / 1/320 sec

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At the Savong Orphan Centre (SOC)

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/2.8 / 1/60 sec
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It was a Sunday when we visited the centre, there were no lessons, and everyone's relaxed...

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/2.8 / 1/60 sec
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The innocence of childhood...

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 12.1mm / f/3.5 / 1/60 sec
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The unconditional joy...

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 12.1mm / f/3.5 / 1/60 sec
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The joy of childhood in our hands

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/3.5 / 1/80 sec
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With the children at Savong...

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/6.3 / 1/250 sec
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Our donation of rice and cooking ingredients...moment of solace.

  • December 11th, 2011
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • 6.1mm / f/2.8 / 1/100 sec

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