Long story short is, I saw a poster that said come volunteer to teach English in Osoam Village 150 Kilometers in the Cardamom Mountains Jungle. My first thought was, “Hell Yes!”
The next morning a local car comes and picks me up from my guest house, and we leave. 5 minutes later we pull into a large vacant lot, with a few broken down buses.
I have no idea what is going on, as no one speaks English. I just assume the guy driving the car knew where I was going and would point to me, when I should go somewhere?
Over the next 15 minutes a few other locals stand near me, and the driver is adding more and more things to the car roof, trunk, back seat. When the car is almost over full, other than the two front seats. He does point at me and then points to the passenger seat.
Next, all 4 other people pack into the back seat, and me into the front seat. So, I guess this is the car we are taking to Osoam Village, or another vacant field, who knows.
3 hours of driving down roads with little structure, we drop off 2 passengers, and some stuff.
Now we are a lot less crowded, but I still have no idea where we are. The roads are getting smaller and less smooth.
Another hour goes by, and it is now dark. I see a sign that says Osoam Community. OMG – we are here! But the driver does not stop.
Another 20 minutes and I am starting to wonder, there are no houses, people, nothing.
Just as I am about to try and ask where we are, we pull up to a little village of 3 or 4 wooden shacks.
I am here!
Lim greats me with a big hello and he has a big dinner all ready for me. Wow, this is an impressive greeting.
That night after dinner, we sit around a fire and talk about the village, and Lim’s goals for it.
He wants to create a self sustaining community, where they don’t need to ask for money, or help. He also is dead seat on it being Eco Friendly. I like this!
A little about Lim:
Lim was born just before the killings in Cambodia hit in the late 1970s. His family was forced to hide in the jungle for 7 years, where they lived off of the jungle. They eventually got shelter in a refugee camp in Thailand. Where they stayed for 5 years until the killings stopped, and then moved back to Cambodia. For the next few years they all worked on their farm, until he was about 17 years old, when his parents allowed him to start kindergarten. Yes, Kindergarten at the age of 17. Now look at him, running a community, speaks English! Wow, truly impressive. I really admire this guy.
Around 6:30 am I wake up and head down the the toilet to do a little paper work, when I see 10 year old Sreyka, doing laundry. No one has asked her to do this, she just gets up and does it.
Two things! One, can you picture your kids doing this? Two, notice this is by hand!
After coffee, fresh papaya and mango, Lim, his wife, two locals, and myself jump into his truck and go around the village.
He shows me the different farms around the area, and then we drive down behind one of the farms, where he shows me some of the new plantations.
When they cleared the land, all of the wood that was cut, was made into lumber for the locals to use to build homes, etc. We are going to get some of the lumber, so Lim can finish another hut for tourist to stay in.
This is no easy task, but these strong Cambodians do it with ease. I carried only a few boards down the 1/4 KM hill and was burned out. They must have done it 5 or 6 times. Even Lim’s wife does it, with a smile too.
30 minute drive back to Osoam Village, where we empty the truck and have lunch.
After lunch Lim, his youngest daughter and wife need to go to Koh Kong, where I came from yesterday to see a doctor.
Image that, having to travel 3 to 4 hours anytime you need supplies or a doctor. Lim told me that this is not a good place for a women to get pregnant. He also told me some sad stories of what has happened in the past.
Just before Lim leaves, he says to me, “Wait 30 more minutes, then go to the school to teach the kids English!”. I ask, “do I need to be introduced?” He says, “No, you are the teacher!”
I wait a little while and then walk over. The kids are happy to see me, and are all ready to learn.
I say Hello, they all yell Hello back!
There is no lesson plan, so I decide to just teach them the names of everyday objects. The first one is Chair. When I write it on the board, they all write in their books.
I have never seen such eager kids wanting to learn. They keep asking for new words, and wanting me to say the word over and over, while they repeat it.
The one little girl is a teacher’s pet, I can tell. I did not make my R clear enough and she comes up to the board, erases mine and writes the exact correct way to draw an R. I should have taken a picture because he penmanship was better than any ones I have ever seen.
I spent about an hour or so with them, and that was the length of their attention span. Lim had already told me 1 hour is about the limit.
The rest of the day I spent relaxing by the water, walking around, and just enjoying the day. Lim and his family will not be back until tomorrow.
The morning is a nice relaxing morning, where I just enjoy the quietness. I take little walks around, but nothing really exciting.
Eventually it is time to teach, and I head over to the school. The brats are already there and waiting. Again, I have never seen such eagerness to learn.
This hour goes by fast, and the kids are ready for playtime. I take this time to gather a few more pictures of memories.
Lim and his family are back from koh Kong, and I join him to see what’s new. He has brought a truck load of gravel for some of the walkways, to help with the mud situation when it rains.
Two of the students jump right in and start emptying the truck. The work on and off until late that night.
That evening Lim takes me and his daughter out for a boat ride, to introduce me to some locals living down the river, and to also show me more wildlife.
His little girl is so damn funny. She has no fear, and also loves grabbing my finger, when she wants to pull me in her direction. Her English is pretty good too!
She is emptying the water out of the boat.
Some pictures from the boat and one of a 10 year old boy fishing on his own.
That night, I sadly have to inform Lim that I am leaving tomorrow, after only 3 nights. My stomach has been really bad the last 2 or 3 weeks, and I have been ignoring it. But the nausea feeling is getting worse, and I think I should be closer to a pharmacy/doctor if needed. I don’t want to leave and am really sad.
Lim and I have another few good conversation, and I tell him I am going to help him promote his village. I am currently working on his website, Facebook page, etc.
Check it out!
The next morning around 6:30 am I get up and get ready for my 4/5 hour commute to Pursat.
But look at this, those two boys are already working on finishing emptying the truck. CRAZY! Sreyka is up and doing some stuff around also.
I don’t know how many times it will take me, but it is still a shock when I see how great these kids are.
Goodbye Osoam Village, and thank you, to Lim and his family for making me feel like a family member, and not a guest.
Check out my video, with some great shots of the kids, area, and wildlife.