Pictured: YMCA Unearth Cambodia participants smiling and having fun on the trip.
On Saturday 5 January, 10 excited travellers arrived in Siem Riep to kick off YMCA Unearth Cambodia, a 12-day trip visiting the country’s fast paced cities, beautiful beaches and floating villages.
The program is an opportunity for YMCA staff, volunteers and members to immerse themselves in Cambodia’s rich culture, as well as help out with local projects coordinated by Cambodia YMCA.
On day one the group settled in at the Parent Heritage Angkor Hotel, where they would stay for the next three nights. In Siem Reap visiting the local church, going to a charity school, preparing meals, enjoying lunch at a homestay lotus farm, visiting Komplong Plouk (the Floating Village) and exploring Angkor Wat was on the agenda.
For participant Layla Andraos, visiting the church and cooking for the local community was just one of the many highlights on the trip.
“I enjoyed venturing out on Sunday to the holy church where we participated in the Rice Soup program, preparing a meal for the children and elderly following devotion,” said Layla.
From Siem Riep the group travelled to Phnom Penh, where they spent a day constructing toilets for a local family of seven as a part of a community based project run by Cambodia YMCA. The next day they took part in the Street Children Project, which is a school program run by the YMCA for children who live in the slum community.
Pictured: YMCA Unearth Cambodia participants building a toilet for a local family in Phnom Penh.
“On the trip, I gained an understanding and insight of what amazing work the Cambodian Y do within the Community,” said Layla.
“The programs and services that are being delivered provide support to families to improve the wellbeing of children and young people enhancing family and community functioning, as well as increasing the participation of vulnerable people in community life.”
Before heading to the coastal town of Sihanoukville, the group enjoyed a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. In Sihanoukville, they enjoyed a day at Otres beach and assisted with classes at the Goodwill Centre.
After 12 days in Cambodia, the trip left the participants feelings happy and whole. Program coordinators Linda Freake and Erin Nugent were extremely proud of the group and all that they achieved on the trip.
“We were blessed with a group of people, including one participant from the Osaka YMCA, who brought with them, energy, compassion, enthusiasm and, above all, a sense of adventure. Personal boundaries were tested in a program that provides a mix of both volunteer and travel experiences,” said Linda.
To find out more about the program, click here.