Cambodian Threads is really coming along. I’m trying to bring it full circle. After the few months of going back and forth to Prek Bongkong (Silk Island), I’ve made a strong connection with the Heng family, who make the silk scarves. Like their silk, The Heng’s are close knit and whenever I roll up on my trusty 1989 Korean Dailim moto, the children and women soon come out of the woodwork and give a warm salutation; I feel welcomed. They live in a rural setting; however, because of the proximity to Phnom Penh (about an hour), the villagers have some access to basic amenities. Regardless, the children are still in need of basic school material. Therefore, I chose to focus on the primary school of the community to try and help. What better way to bring it full circle.
Last Tuesday was the first day I donated school material. After an early morning of preparation, I went out to Orrusey market in Phnom Penh with the intentions of buying as much school material as $50 could and which could fit on my moto. The market was packed at 7:30 am with all the vendors and buyers flocking into the three story concrete building. The exterior was littered with umbrellas and tarps hung up to give coverage against the rising sun to the locals who were swarming through the produce selection. It’s wild to see some people sitting on miniaturized plastic stools eating their breakfast while others are looking at fruit basically on top of them in the same area that moto-dopes are parking their bikes and hustling fairs.
I walked into the market and gasped at the thick stuffy air; I was on a mission. I haggled and bargained with a few sellers until I found a nice woman who understood what I was trying to do to help the children and gave me the local price. So I chose the Disney themed notebooks that are very fashionable for young Khmers and university students alike, the cartoon labeled pencils, sharpeners, and fun stickers. A young stocky boy helped me tie on the goods, and just like that I had 200 notebooks, 400 pencils, 50 sharpeners, and 100 stickers strapped to my bike and ready for the ride out to Prok Bongkong. What seemed like the fastest ride to Silk Island I’d ever taken brought me to a smiling Heng family. Naysim, the daughter who I converse with most about the scarves, and her mother, Sok Eang, took me to Preah Takov primary school, which was only a short distance from their house. The children were just finishing their morning lesson and after going into each classroom where I was greeted by wide eyed learners, the principle and the teachers brought the 170 odd students to the courtyard where we had prepared all the gifts. The principle was so happy and shocked; she kept telling me and Naysim how thankful she was and how important the school materials were. I started to hand out the gifts to the children; I watched them as they gathered around. I remember that look as they accepted the gift. It was as if their eyes were saying, “Wow, what is happening here? No one ever does this for us. What are these beautiful new gifts? I’m going to guard these colorful gems with all my might.” It was a really cool feeling for me. I felt more accomplished giving out all those school materials than I had in a long time. It made me want to keep going; that was only the beginning. After talking with a few of the parents, teachers, and children who were all very thankful for the gifts that the big American Bfarangbrought, I went to eat lunch at the Heng family home before going back to Phnom Penh to prepare for my afternoon classes. Success!
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