By: Keo Chamroeun
A 150km work trip from Phnom Penh to Sre Ambel district, which is located in Koh Kong province, started with fears of meeting strangers, yet ended with smiles and tearful goodbyes. After three hours, approximately, we arrived at the destination to face our fears. While we were there, we made two touching observations that made it hard to leave.
First, it was an indescribable moment to witness the struggle of the young generation for education. Life in the city seems far different from life in the province. However, a common sense of life in the city and the province is the need for education. A lot of children in this province are striving for proper education, regardless of the distance between their homes and schools. Even though some children walk while some others ride bikes to school, no one ever get tired of continuously repeating this daily routine. These children have a strong commitment, sense of responsibility, patience, and persistence for education because they understand that education plays a significant role to enable them to reach their goals, which creates sustainable peace, security, prosperity and happiness in their lives. Contribution and encouragement from you—parents, community members, and kind sponsors—ultimately make them more innovative and creative.
Secondly, it was very impressive to hear that six villages have established their own community in order to preserve eco-tourism. This fishing community that they created was invaded by private companies in certain areas. Luckily, the spirit of the community brought triumph over those private enterprises. Villagers did not just protest their community from those private companies, but they also shared their perspectives to find peaceful solutions. At the same time, villagers were (and still are) encouraged to stop fishing for a certain kind of snails --locally known as the Angry-Bird snail—as fishing for these snails has a negative impact on the roots of mangrove forests because the snails live under the roots. Preserving the left mangrove forests will surely and potentially benefit villagers’ interests even more because the area will support eco-tourism sector there. Sadly, this beautiful natural place is not widely known. When visiting there, local and international tourists are welcomed by friendly villagers and served delicious food. Plus, there is a boat service to bring tourists to see a snail preservation area and to help them relax with fresh air and beautiful landscapes.
Koh Kong is an area with a lot of potential in both human and natural resources to better the country. Importantly, Sre Ambel is made of friendly and hard-working people who deserve our attention. Your contribution makes a big difference. If you ever have a chance, this is the recommended place to visit.