5 questions with Manon REVEL, 20, French volunteer from Kampuchea Souriya Group on volunteering program with Caritas Cambodia over the past three weeks in Siem Reap.
  • 1. Tell us about yourself?
    I am fond of basketball and politics. I study sciences and I particularly enjoy Maths. As my friends from Kampuchea Souriya, I have dreamt for years to take part in an international solidarity program in order to help out and to enrich myself with new and different people from another culture. I am also quite anxious and I have no choice but to relax here, in Cambodia.
  • 2. What have you been doing at the field over the past few weeks?
    After a week building a playground in the Caritas’ Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health- CCAMH for handicapped children, we joined, with Charlotte, Adel and Lothaire Caritas Cambodia in Siem Reap. We spent the week 40 km far from the city, in countryside all red and green, working on a chicken house before transplanting rice for a community.
  • 3.What have you learnt about the program activities and lives of the local communities you are working with?
    • Program activities: As far as we still are students and not workers, we were not used to nail and pouring cement. We had then to learn quickly how to work efficiently not to slow down the local productivity. Thanks to the program activity, we discovered a new way to work, Cambodian style of work seems to take action quickly and to adapt details while the construction is going on.
    • Lives of the local communities: Despite the precarious life of some local community, people wear a constant smile and give a warm welcome. As the expression blazing sun takes in Cambodian fields its literary sense, the mentality and tenacity of the workers in the countryside are a great inspiration, and encouraged us to question occidental concerns and leaving style… Hopefully, Cambodian people have a great break at lunch time thanks to which my team and I have a long nap to recharge batteries...
  • 4. Which aspects of the program activities or live experience do you find most interesting and you enjoy the most?
    The program activities in the CCAMH said ‘’here is a potential playground, make it as fun and efficient as possible’’: it gave us a wide flexibility, thanks to which we organized our group in an efficient way to be as productive as possible. We really felt that our added value was appreciated. Our dynamism and will to help the center created a great emulsion within our group but also with the locals. The neighbours of the CCMAH and its staff helped us a lot with practical tips: a real boost for our project.
  • 5. What do you plan to share with your friends/university or family when you are back home?
    Two weeks of intense activity is not enough perspective to digest all the experience. We are still in the heat of the action and it takes time to process information and to talk about it. As my brain is still full of questions with no answer, a single idea struck me as crucial for now: here, people manage to leave the very present moment without any mean of anticipation on tomorrow. Maybe this is why Antoine de Saint-Exupery says that they are ‘’as close as possible to real life’’.

    Otherwise, I plan to bring back home a lot of presents for my family and friends to share a bit of my trip with souvenirs!!


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