I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Siem Reap, Cambodia, teaching English at a non-profit school set up by Savon and Savuth (they literally built the main 4 class school beside their house). They wanted to provide free English lessons to local children, regardless of their background. Only 1 in 3 children in Cambodia are able to learn English and even then it’s not typically until secondary school. For many, the cost to attend secondary school is unobtainable. ECC (Education Centre for the Community) provides these classes, in their own premises, along with in a local pagoda and primary school, to over 500 children, to give them a head start, which can enable them to escape the poverty that is so rife here.
In teacher mode at the public school
I was teaching classes at the public school (35-55 students per class!) and it was really humbling to see the kids making progress and enjoying learning English. Throughout lessons, kids would often draw and give me the pictures at the end of class. They really were the sweetest, smileiest children I’ve ever met!
Student shoes left outside the class
As I’ve done plenty of art workshops in the past I really wanted to put something on to let the kids get creative! In Cambodia, art is not a part of the curriculum but from the classes it was clear they love to use their imagination! With the help of a few of the other volunteers I stretched and primed a canvas, ready for the kids to paint…
My glamorous assistants Lena and Helena
I wanted the theme of the painting to be Cambodia, to capture the local community and feeling surrounding ECC. The finished piece was so much better than I could have imagined. I gave extremely basic instruction to the kids, mostly helping with colour mixing and showing application technique for the sky, ground and trees. In terms of content, I gave suggestions and ideas on what and where they could paint their creations but I wanted to give them as much creative freedom as possible.
Using toothbrushes to create a stippled sand effect
After initial hesitation that yes, they could literally paint anything they liked directly onto the canvas, they really ran with the idea and continued painting well after the sun went down, both days. We had to use torches to give light so they could see as they point blank refused to leave. It was fantastic.
Not even the sun going down could stop the creativity!
Whilst there I also gave some help, updating their website and copy editing. They take volunteers from such wide ranging backgrounds, that even without the teaching experience, there’s always be plenty to do!
The final piece, complete with dragon! Love love loved this project
They have recently started building a new school a short distance away (which will be nestled in the lotus fields) and are looking for further funding and volunteers to ensure the project is sustained longterm. It really is a great great undertaking. If you ever find yourself in Cambodia and can give your time, or if you are able to contribute financially, any help is appreciated, and not just superficial gratitude but real, without your support we cannot function appreciation. Hands down the best thing I’ve been a part of.
The children and other volunteers at ECC- My Cambodian family ♥️
Check out the links below for more info and for how to donate and volunteer;