Socheat was destitute.
Meet Sok, her dad also left her when she was a baby. Her mother later remarried a man younger than her and also abandoned her.
|Sok on the extreme right.|
|I asked him to pose like Ong Bak because of the missing Buddha head behind.|
We do not get to choose to be born poor or rich,but we do have a choice to choose how we live.
These 3 Cambodians heard about Sala Bai and chose not to give up. To make their way to get an application form, some travel 7 days and 6 nights.
(50% live on less than USD 50 per month). Knowledge hungry, determined, ambitious but limited because of poverty. Worse, they are highly vulnerable to sex and labour trafficking.
Singapore's citizens might have alot of gripe about our senior minister mentor LKY,but if there's anything to be grateful for is that he provided education & made it compulsory in Singapore.
For anyone who have met the students of Sala Bai, look into their earnest eyes, hear their passion about wanting to improve themselves, one would feel ashamed how we hated homework & the start of school after the holidays (which happens to be this week).
I spent my weekend discovering Sala Bai and Siem Reap.
Siem Reap wasn't made famous until Angelina Jolie (for adopting a child) and Tomb Raider (which Angelia Jolie starred in too).
|The Angkor Wat|
Like this carving, where a Stegosauraus was found! If the 12th century civilization had carved this into stone, does this mean that dinosaurs existed?
Moving from the city to the country side was already bad enough, but imagine if you had to live in the Meachrey river.
And Singaporeans complain about flash floods?
Tourists may take a river boat ride down this stream, peep into the poor homes, intruding and invasive. Taking photos of everything, we may find the entire experience touristy.
Like a curious tourist, i really did peep into the poor homes. Most are empty, the owners gone fishing or work. There is no need to 'lock up' because there is literally nothing to steal. Most homes are SO SPARSE, they merely provide a roof.
|A chicken coop on water.|
|A pig sty on water.|
I obviously already do.
Sala Bai is a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight poverty and human trafficking in Cambodia by providing education and employment in the hospitality. By having a model solution for a program that provides practical education and then guaranteeing employment will support the economic growth of Cambodia and also eliminate the risk of trafficking for individuals.
Sala Bai hand-picks only 100 students a year to provide full board, meals and studies for free. The social workers at Sala Bai conducts home visits to ensure that the 100 students they give come from absolutely impoverished homes (if you have a rice field, pig or scooter, you will not be accepted into Sala Bai). There is also a stringent selection process so only the most determined students with a good attitude will be selected.
|Getting English lessons.|
|Outside Sala Bai|
There are only 4 rooms available starting from USD 20 a night. It's awesome value-for-money. Almost centrally located, the mosquito net and warm bedside lamp gives the room a romantic feel. Toilets are equipped with towels.
Sala Bai students get trained for roles in housekeeping, receptionist, waiters and chefs. Book Sala Bai for accommodation if you plan to visit Siem Reap!Heritage Suites.
|Graduates from Sala Bai may now earn as much as USD 400 a month.|
If you're still not certain about making a donation, or prefer to stay in a luxury hotel, at least pay Sala Bai a visit for a meal! Training restaurant and bar is closed on Sundays and school holidays.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of food served. I was expecting to go easy on taste expectations because it's cooked by students.
Cambodian food is very similar to Thai, but without the chilli padi and spice. I love the breakfast sets that starts at USD 2. Try the traditional Cambodian porridge for breakfast.
|Mango salad with shrimp|
|Mince pork with eggplant rice|
The highest ranked Asian country is Vietnam (2nd) and Hong Kong in position 102 is the only Asian nation ranked lower than Singapore.
How then can young Cambodians smile so genuinely considering the extraordinary challenges they face?
|Rowing to school.|
Perhaps they've long known what we're still trying to find, happiness.