If there is one thing about Siem Reap which has made me realized how fortunate am I, it’s the kids. Unlike in Penang, the kids in Cambodia are very independent. Most of them are in untidy or dirty clothes and pants. They are poor and some are very very very poor. However, sometimes I found the kids were very irritating, trying to push me to close their sales.
You can see a lot of them after school hours along the street of Siem Reap. They do not need to worry of kidnappers unlike in Malaysia particularly in Penang. My country used to be like them many years ago but unfortunately, due to the rapid economics growth and some said the huge influx of unskilled foreign workers, we have seen the rise of kidnap cases in city like KL, Penang and Johor. Some of the kids are raped too. Isn’t it is very cruel? I called them worst than animal. At least, animals especially mammals know how to care for their young ones.
Though they came from poor family, I don’t see them feel very unhappy due to their condition. Maybe there are. However I found that they are enjoying their life much more than the kids in Malaysia. No doubt they lack the luxury lifestyles but they make the most out of what they have.
They go out to earn money for their family. A child labour as you may called it. The above is a picture of a kid at Tonle Sap Lake which I took in my previous trip. Can you see how brave is he? He paddled his ‘boat’ alone and will speed up whenever he see boat carrying tourist reach nearby him. And most tourist will take a photo of him and this kid will ask for USD 1 for so called allowing you to take his photo. Independent? Yes. Cheating? Very subjective as I would say.
This is another picture which made me realised how fortunate am I when I was a kid. When I was a kid, school bus is the only option for me to go to school. Unlike the kids in the above picture, I don’t need to worry of the traffic or how to drive a bus. Perhaps, the only thing that I need to worry is to take the correct school bus and be on time.
If you were to ask me whether the kids need more help, I have to say YES! A country without literate kids, will not go far in the future. Education is the most important thing for them. Hence, I will love to see them go to school instead of selling books, clothes, postcards and etc to tourist in the city or doing nothing.
As a tourist, we can help them by supporting Cambodian products, donations as well as stay in Cambodian owned accommodation such as BouSavy Guesthouse. The country economy is much better now compared to the Khmer Rouge’s times but there is still a long way to go to improve the life of its citizen especially the kids.