In 2007, my senior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to embark on a senior project in Cambodia to volunteer in a center for street children called M’Lop Tapang. All of the children at the center had cut ties with their families in order to escape abuse and many of them were forced to live on their own because their parent had died from AIDS or drug over dose. Before M’Lop Tapang found them they were living on less then a dollar a day by selling fruits or collecting cans on the beach. Some of them, as young as 4 or 5, had already developed addictions to huffing glue. When I arrived in 2007, M’Lop Tapangs 4th year in existence, there were over 400 kids that came to the center every day looking for help. I spent 5 weeks working at the center teaching the kids how to read and write but was quickly moved from working with the street children to working with M’Lop Tapang’s Girls At Risk Program. The Girls At Risk Program rescued young girls, my age and a bit younger, from prostitution and human trafficking organizations. I taught them how to sew, cook, read and write. They quickly learned how to make had bags and jewelry which they sold in their own store in order to make a living other then prostitutions or working in massage parlors. I also had the opportunity to travel with M’Lop Tapang’s mobile library, which traveled to remote villages around the area and gave children in the country the opportunity to read books and learn about health and hygiene. Around the 3rd or 4th week I was there many of the out side villages had run out of water so the mobile library would bring tons of water for the villagers along with their lesson plans.
Living in Sun Valley my entire life I had no idea how harsh the out side world really was. At 18 my eyes were opened to the suffering that a huge percentage of the worlds population faces every day. After working in Cambodia for those 5 weeks I feel usless unless I am helping others in need. There is no better or more productive way to spend your time in this world then helping others. After just 5 weeks in Cambodia I felt that I had made a difference. I was able to show them the path to a better life and empower them to take their lives into their own hands.
Delivering fresh water to an outside village whose well had dried up.
A boy standing next to his burnt down house. The government burnt down the entire village during the night with no warning because they wanted to build a new beach resort on the land, leaving hundreds homeless.
Houses on the Dump. Many families make a living collecting trash at the dump and live breathing burning plastic. Even their cows eat the soft melting plastic. The dump is one of the many places the Mobile Library visits.
People collecting trash at the dumb just a few feet from their houses.
A day at the beach with the Girls At Risk. Even thought they live near the beach this was their first time in the water.