A picturesque Tuk Tuk ride took us to a little village just outside Siem Riep. Our group leader introduced us to the whole family. While they were preparing dinner, our host took us on a walk through the village.
Local kids walked with us the whole way. Families living in huts went along with their lives. A little girl said “hello!”. She then gave Lori a flower in a gesture of indescribable beauty. She didn’t ask for anything in return.
Despite their reality in a complicated country like Cambodia, all the people I saw smiled at us, especially the children. That moved me and helps put things into perspective. Poor families just getting on with their lives as best they can. Food on the table is the main point of concern.
One thing that truly bothered me in Cambodia was the number of street children. It broke my heart to see young children barefoot, dirty, hungry, begging or selling stuff to tourists. A child should be a child, no matter what. We should take care of our children. Cambodia is not easy. After learning and visiting all the Khmer Rouge stuff, seeing these street kids just got to me…
We returned to the house and were immediately invited to sit down and get ready to eat. The family brought us an amazing traditional Cambodian home cooked meal. Then we heard their story.
This family adopted 12 kids getting them off the streets. The idea is to give them hope for the future. They keep them clean and take them to school.
These dinners are a way of funding their project. I was feeling honored to be a part of it and help such a noble cause. For a moment, the great ruins of Angkor Wat became completely secondary. It was going to be hard to move me more than the few hours spent with that family.
I could see in my friend’s eyes they felt the same way. In the end, instead of the agreed price of $8 for that great meal, I gave them $20. It was the least I could do. My travel buddies did the same.