Just call me Angelina...

Trip Start Sep 02, 2010
Trip End Jun 14, 2011

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, May 3, 2011


My first morning at ACODO was like being thrown into a Monkey breeding centre. 8.30am I arrived, and (unbeknown to me) the kids who were supposed to go to their private school lessons hadn't gone, so there I was... with SIXTY kids in my class. Oh yeah, sixty 5 - 13 year olds all hyper and screaming while I tried to organise some kind of teaching programme without any leaders around for guidance, or - more importantly - any paper or pens. The 'President' had taken the keys to the store cupboard and not brought them back. So... it was a case of winging it on the spot with only a board marker and rag for resources.

Luckily, Sarah's an 'on your feet girl', so within a few minutes I had them all chanting the ABC at me while I drew animal pictures on the board, ready for a game of 'who can spell the animal' followed by charades. Well, that was a winner - after that they loved me! They thought I was pretty crazy as I leapt around the room pretending to be a Lion, but loved me nonetheless.

Neroli and Lee turned up later - poking their heads in the door with astounded faces as they watched me lead the class in a chant of 'I am...' which consisted of the kids pulling the faces I'd drawn on the board in reply (happy/angry/tired etc). Neroli patted me on the back straight after the lesson - 'You were amazing! You had such great energy; you're a natural'. Yeah I am! :)

The week followed suit... each day I'd teach from 9-11, then again from 2-3, playing with the kids inbetween and visiting the little old lady up the road for some of her amazing noodles by the road. Evening times involved a quick dash home for a shower, then back down to the orphanage at 6pm ready for the kids danceshow which went on until 7.30-8pm. This was generally followed by dinner with Neroli, Lee and on one occasion Katie and Siobhan (previous volunteers who popped back for a day or two).

There was a really nice energy at the orphanage, and I couldn't get over how affectionate the kids were. I mean, they see strangers passing through on a daily basis, so I was really surprised with their loving response to me after just one day... I thought they wouldn't have bothered, knowing I'd be leaving eventually.

I soon got to learn their names and traits though... with the help of Neroli's stories at dinner; though some were hard to hear. My favourite little girl, Saroun, they think was raped by a male relation as she completely despises men (which I got to see first hand when Lee tried to interact with her - she hid behind me the whole time), and Yorm and her brother who used to be made to work in the fields and were beaten by their alcoholic father. Two of the boys also spent 6 long years on the streets collecting rubbish for small change. How they all had smiles on their faces, I don't know.

I worked really hard with the children, ending up extending my 3 day stint to a full week - I didn't want to leave them. It was so nice having them repeat things back to me from class too - I'd actually taught them something!! They loved the Music Man song- every night they had me doing that... jumping around as we did the air guitar. The orphanage workers also found this hillarious - on several occasions I caught the men stood by the class window looking in at me as if I was a lunatic as I sang at the top of my voice and imitated playing the bongos. Neroli even mentioned that the teacher from the other class had kept popping over to mine to see what I was doing with the kids as they'd all been raving about me... ha!

So, when Friday came I was a bit sad... it didn't help that I felt ill that day, I had to sit down through most of the lessons as I thought I was going to collapse. By evening I felt a bit better though, and enjoyed the dance show with little Tyda (3) rolling around on my lap whilst Saroun sat with her arm round me and Pring stood behind plaiting my hair. When it came to leave I tried to explain to them that I wouldn't be back, though they all still shouted 'I love you teacher, see you tomorrow for ABC!' Getting into my Tuk Tuk was a nightmare, they were all hanging off me, hugging and kissing me goodbye. I wanted to be able to say 'see you again' but I didn't want to lie... who knows, maybe I'll see them again someday.

I did actually end up popping back the next day - just to drop off a couple of things, and only encountered a couple of the kids... a very moody Saroun being one of them. She'd obviously realised I was leaving for good as I hadn't been there for the morning lessons, and refused to give me a hug goodbye. That upset me... I really loved her.

No drinking this week - as if I'd be doing that with kiddies to deal with the following morning! Faheem and his friend Dee caught up with me on Friday night though... they'd come from Bangkok. It was nice to see Faheem again, and Dee was really nice, but I was so exhausted I called it a night at 9.30.

On Saturday I had a cycle around town (yes, I'd hired a bicycle all week to get me to and from work - I'm gonna have buns of steel soon), visiting a village, the night market and having a pedicure (my treat to myself for my hard work), before meeting Faheem and Dee for a quick bevvy and heading back to the hostel for my night bus down to Sihnaoukville.... BEACH!!! WOOHOO!! I get to lie and do nothing, yayyyy!!!

I really enjoyed my time in Siem Reap - it was a pretty town, with plenty to see and do, but I loved the kids more. I hope the orphanage makes it - they survive on a hand-to-mouth basis, so I hope to sponsor one of the kids when I get some money coming in... Saroun preferably. I could have easily adopted her on the spot.

And that was that... I saw a bit of the wedding, only really to check the dress out (I hope you all had a nice day off), and am very happy that Robert Pattinson's movie 'Remember Me' is airing Star Movies (asian channel) on the 15th of May. Consider me there with bells on!!!

Off to the beach I go... before figuring out where the hell to go next!! xxxxxxxxxxx

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