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W_UP Tour in Cambodia: Participants experience


Trip to Cambodia, an experience of endless opportunities

Following the activities organised by the “W-Up Tour” project, it was our turn to visit Cambodia for its workcamp at CYA Learning Center and other activities that we shared with the local community in a continuous and enriching exchange. Let’s go through the different stages and stops of the trip…here we go!

1st. stop, Phnom Penh: We landed in the hot and colourful capital, Phnom Penh, where we stayed for two days. We could say that it is above all, a city of contrasts: its tall skyscrapers next to low, colourful houses and buildings represent the scenario of the typical capital. Buddhist temples and community centres are part of the landscape and are protagonists of a city in which monks, merchants and office workers coexist with a few lost tourists. Like so many other Asian capitals, there is harmony in the midst of chaos, an orderly disorder in which it seems that only its inhabitants can understand each other and move around. Large gardens and landscaped areas gave us a breath from high temperatures, which every afternoon with the arrival of a tropical rain gave us respite.
We were struck by its fairly recent history of genocide during the Pol Pot regime, surprised by the violence and events that occurred. The Tuol Sleng Museum portrays it; and it made us reflect about the fact that the memory is a value and so important to avoid repeating history.

2nd stop, Kampot Fisher Community – mangrove plantation and beach cleaning campaign: the whole group met together to spend two days in the fishing community two hours away from the capital city. There we could talk with local people, share different moments and delicious meals and finally plant mangroves! We had no idea about the benefits of planting mangrove and it was very nice to collaborate there and learn new things. On June 5th, Environment day, we were invited to an event with local authorities and schools for a garbage collection campaign on the beaches and around Kampot city.

3rd stop, CYA Learning Center: our last stop took us to rural Cambodia, the rice fields, the animals, the community, the big Buddhist temple. Its imposing landscape of green fields, lots of sky and red soil, surrounded by colourful houses, textile workshops and small family shops. During the days we were there, we could hear the sound throughout the day, even in the late hours of the morning, an instrumental music that indicated the death of a person of the community. We were told that the funerals lasted approximately 7 days and that the life of the person was celebrated. We were invited to witness part of the ritual. The whole community was there. At night there were fireworks in the sky. This event certainly made us reflect and talk about some interesting topics.

CYA Learning Center is a community meeting place, a place of opportunities for the children. We did some Upcycling activities for a few days using abandoned materials and trash such as tires and wood to create useful furniture for the center, a table and chairs. Together with the children we painted and decorated them, while they told us stories of the village and we had a good time.