Sixth Form visit to Cambodia & Thailand 2017
Fourteen 6th Form students and 4 members of staff have recently returned from an incredible trip to Cambodia & Thailand. The main objective of this visit was to help provide students with a fantastic travel experience, develop a sense of adventure as well as to gain an overseas volunteering opportunity that would support their personal statements for their university applications and CV. Without doubt this trip surpassed all expectations and provided everyone with a life-changing experience.
During part of the experience, students were completely taken out of their comfort zones and challenged to not only live in rural Cambodia where we were accommodated in wooden 'shacks', sleeping on the floor under mosquito nets, using very primitive sanitation facilities, no air-con or running water and limited electricity. Each day, our students either spent 6 hours teaching English to large classes of mixed ability and age Cambodian children or taking part in our sanitation building project. The building work undertaken resulted in the completion of three toilet facilities for the poorest and most needy families in the Cambodia village - one of which was for a lone woman and her 10 year old son. The woman had also just lost her older 17 year old son 3 weeks ago as a result of illness. This building project means that she and two other families in the community will no longer need to use a nearby field for toilets.
This was a very humbling visit that tested the resilience of all - our students rose to this challenge and conducted themselves with both compassion and enthusiasm. It was fantastic to watch them and see them deal with all the situations they faced.
We feel that there is still much work to be done there and we now feel that we have the makings of a fantastic partnership with the village school, who welcomed us into their community, loved us being there with them and were extremely grateful for what we were doing. An example of this was when we needed to take one of the students to a local medical centre for some treatment for her ear infection - when the doctor heard about what we were doing he declined any payment for the treatment saying that as we were helping his country he was really grateful and that he therefore wouldn’t accept any payment! These really are people that have nothing but the little they have they will give or share.
Before going on this visit, we thought that what we were doing would provide a great deal of support and help for the people in Cambodia - however, there is no doubt that we gained as much, if not more out of this project than the people we helped!
After completing the project in Cambodia, the trip was rounded off by flying to Thailand to spend our final weekend in a wildlife sanctuary nearly 200km south of Bangkok in Petchaburi. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand work hard to rescue and rehabilitate animals as well as raise awareness about the plight of animals that suffer from trafficking and cruelty within the tourism trade. This was an incredible insight into the amazing work that goes on at WFFT and the 500+ animals that are in their care. The highlight of this aspect of the trip was ‘living’ among the elephants at the sanctuary, most of which had been rescued from working in the tourist trade—providing elephant rides! We learned that elephants do not have the physique to carry humans, this is a very cruel industry where these magnificent creatures are subjected to horrific treatment.
And so, we returned to the UK completely overwhelmed by all aspects of this amazing trip—we are now hoping that this will be the start of a long term partnership, particularly with My Happy Village Cambodia, where we can continue to provide support for a community in great need as well as provide more of our students with a fantastic opportunity as part of HSLC 6th Form.
To view our film of this incredible visit - click here