Tremendous Taksen- Some thoughts from a recent visitor to the centre, Alison…
Last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to join Jenny and Emma for a week at the Taksenkangbloung Community Centre. I last visited Cambodia in 2014 and only made a few quick visits to the village back then, so I was very excited to see the developments since becoming more involved with the charity as a board member last year.
The Tuk-Tuk ride into Siem Reap invoked a flood of memories – the humidity, the vibrant aromas of street food and of course, the unassuming, open and friendly smiles of the locals. A bowl of delightful Khmer soup later we were heading along the road to the village. Our Tuk-Tuk was greeted by a sea of smiling young faces, an array of ducks and chickens and the ever-friendly local team of director Sothea, teacher Sokhean and all around WonderWoman Rae. The faces I recognised had grown up so much in four years and it was lovely to break the ice with the kids and sing songs taught to them by visitors past.
The week that followed was to hold many memorable moments for me. Firstly, meeting my beautiful pen pal and her family was so special and seeing how much the kids enjoyed receiving and responding to the weekly emails was lovely. Then there was the day trip adventure – first stop Rehash Trash! This organisation empowers women who have found themselves in difficult circumstances by teaching them to make beautiful products from used plastic bags and providing a fair wage. This was a great lesson for the kids as the problem of plastic litter is growing worse by the day in Cambodia. The ladies helped them to wash the bags and crochet them into bracelets and key rings for them to keep. They had a great time! After a quick stop for a delicious lunch, we visited the giant lake Tonle Sap, sailing the waters to the floating village of Kampung Phlok. It was quite a spectacle and everyone was spellbound – including me! Perhaps the highlight of the day was the incidental ‘buspool karaoke’ – where the microphone was handed around and we were treated to a serenade of Khmer songs from the beautiful Cambodian voices.
The other big event during our visit was the annual graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of a year of English classes at the Centre. Watching each graduate receive their certificate and don the graduation hat and gown to the sound of the cheers of their peers was beautiful to watch. The Nutella baguettes and Arnotts Cream Biscuits were consumed at break neck speed and the dance party that followed was quite the spectacle. a
I was so humbled by the whole experience and perhaps the most impact I felt was from the openness and willingness of the kids to embrace someone different. They are all living in a variety of conditions and were so happy to play with me and laugh with me despite language and cultural differences.
I would just like to thank Jenny, Emma, Sothea, Sokhean and Rae for taking good care of me and welcoming me to Taksen.
I can’t wait to go back!