During the February vacation, a group of 2nde students travelled to Cambodia on a humanitarian and cultural voyage. The purpose of the trip was to visit and perform community service at Grace House Community Centre. Grace House is a charity which offers free classes in English to children in the local villages, a support program and classes for local disabled children and ongoing support for families in difficulty though food donations, health classes and counselling. It is a truly marvellous place and ASEICA was very privileged to be able to go and help at the centre. The ASEICA students fund-raised before the trip and raised over 1 800 euros and with this money Grace House was able rebuild their vegetable garden, build new fences to protect the gardens and beautify the students' play area. In addition to the money raised, primary students from Haut Sartoux donated over 260 English books for the library at Grace House and over 500 toothbrushes and toothpaste were donated and bought with money raised which were donated to the centre as well to help with their dental health campaign. School stationary supplies were also donated by the Pichon company.
The ASEICA students worked incredibly hard during their time at the school – clearing gardens spaces, collecting rubbish, mixing cement, building garden beds, painting, planting flowers and trees and moving a truck load of dirt from the front of the school to the gardens at the back. All of this was done in very hot conditions and the staff at the centre were amazed at how much the students were able to achieve during their time at the centre.
The trip also included tours of the temples surrounding Siem Reap, including the world famous Angkor Wat, a visit to the landmine museum and the APOPO rat centre where students learned about the history of the conflict in Cambodia, the ongoing impact of landmines and how rats are being trained to detect the mines. We also went to a performance at the Phare Circus, an amazing circus involving music and acrobatics which are performed by former street children. During the last part of the trip we traveled south to Phnom Penh where we learned about the genocide Cambodia experienced in the 1970’s – visiting the Genocide Museum and touring the Killing Fields. This was an unforgettable experience and resonated deeply with everyone. The other highlights of the trip for the students were travelling around on tuk-tuks, a fully immersive water blessing at the local temple, eating truly amazing food – some students even sampled insects, spiders and snake and visiting the local markets where students practiced their negotiation skills.
It was a remarkable trip and one which certainly gave the students many experiences and memories which will stay with them for a long-time. Grace House would also like to extend a huge thank you to all the families who donated books, tooth-brushes, tooth paste or stationary items. These items were gratefully received and will make a real difference to the school and the students.
By Michelle Simpson