I have not long returned from a wonderful 10 day experience in Siem Reap, Cambodia with my daughter. During our time there we visited many of the temples in the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park; including Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm (Tomb Raiders), Beng Mealea (Indiana Jones) and Banteay Sirei. Amazing that these temples were built around 900ad. Some are being restored, others are being left to the jungle.

My journey to Siem Reap wasn’t just for sight seeing. It was also to meet people I have friended through Facebook and see the work that the Community Support Association is doing in the village of Bos. CSA gives 100% of donations and sponsorships back to the people. I saw first-hand the new wells, water purification filters, push bikes for the children to enable them an easier way to go to school (some travel over 15km over rough roads to reach high school) and the new library for the English classes.

Tours have been organised around Bos by pushbike so you are able to meet the real people going about their daily toils; making rice noodles, brooms, planting rice, harvesting water lilies and tending the water buffalo and cattle. As a thank you, a hat and Khmer scarf is presented. Bottled water is available as it is hot, but so much fun!

On another day to the village, our small group visited the children at the English school. The children were so happy; their smiling faces just beamed. We took part in an impromptu lesson and showed the children how to use digital cameras (two were donated). We also presented 8 high school children with new push bikes – they just couldn’t believe the bikes were actually theirs to keep. Each bike had a plaque with the name of the person who donated.

Our group of 8 also were the “guinea pigs” for a newly proposed tour; a cart ride pulled by a Khmer tractor through the jungle to a hidden temple that generally is only visited by the rich via helicopter. That was so much fun travelling along bumpy tracks, through water, getting bogged. Don’t think we laughed so much. Well worth the journey and it is now a scheduled tour for the village separate to the bike tour.

My pilgrimage to the village was to help where possible. I am now sponsoring a family; a single mum with 4 children ranging from 18mths to 17. Her husband passed away a few years ago and she is now left to raise the family with her meagre income gained by working in other farmers fields and selling vegetables on the side of the road.

The aim of CSA is to offer assistance to those in desperate need to get started and become self-sufficient. It is a hand up, not a hand out and these beautiful people are very proud and want to better their lives. And unlike a lot of charities, 100% of the donations go to the people of Bos.

I have designed a calendar of my day in the village:

Through the sales of this calendar I have pledged 100% of the profits to go to CSA so they are able to continue working with the Bos community. Every little bit helps and goes a long way.

If anyone is interested in sponsoring a family for US$50 per month or would like to donate a bike for the children, or buy a chicken farm etc or just donate some dollars to help go towards a well, please email me at: . I will pass your details onto CSA.

I will be returning to Siem Reap next year around end of June. If anyone is interested in joining me, drop me a line.

Best “fishes” – Karen :)

Journal Comments

  • Mel Brackstone
  • Karen Willshaw