Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac, the first thing we noticed was the heat. The road itself seemed to shimmer from the glancing rays of the sun, as we sped along in a tuk-tuk, the local mode of transportation.
The second thing that we noticed was the genuine hospitality that embraced us during the entirety of our trip. Every person that we met was kind, friendly, and welcoming. We were greeted at the airport by the staff members and children of Build Your Future Today Center, our partner organization. Our next step was SamSo Guesthouse, the hotel that was our home for the five weeks we were in Cambodia.
From there, we visited the BFT Center located in Siem Reap, Cambodia to attend the Children’s Day event they had planned. All of the students performed with their respective classes, from dances and songs to speeches about the significance of Children’s Day.
From then, we fell into a routine that was somehow completely unpredictable. We did not have a predetermined schedule; every week would involve something different. UVA GlobeMed helps BFT by funding the projects of two specific villages: Arak Svay and Sre Robong. We visited these two villages and got to see firsthand the progress that had been throughout the years of our partnership.
Arak Svay is a self-sufficient village in which the members take care of one another. They villagers also cook their own food. Some of the women weave baskets or make bracelets for sale in the city.
During our stay, we also took BMI measurements of the children in Sre Rebong, as well as helped build a house in Arak Svay along with the monks of the area.
During the evenings, we taught English at BFT. The lessons largely consisted of grammar and we found that the students were all very eager to learn. BFT has a very clear vision for the future, and from what we saw, it is evident that funds are being used efficiently and effectively. The biggest difficulty we encountered during our stay was the language barrier. Though the BFT staff spoke good English, it was more difficult to communicate with the villagers. Furthermore, despite all that BFT is doing, there is still much poverty in the villages. Some of the more rural villages do not always have access to clean water and the schools have only a handful of classroom supplies. However, we are confident that together with BFT, GlobeMed will continue to have a positive impact on these villagers and diminish the difficulties in their lives.