Today’s update is written by Isy:
Another early start has us packed in the minibus at 6.45.
En route to Hun Sen Khnach Romeas School, the production line of medals (perforated stickers on ribbons) for the children continues. We started making these yesterday, with Sanj at the helm, proving to be a very smooth operations manager.
This morning, we are holding a sports carnival, a pilot event for See Beyond Borders. We are met by a sea of curious eyes as we alight the van, unpacking many strange looking objects; blue plastic plumbing pipes, flags of various colours and sponges.
We are split into groups and accompanied by SBB staff, each is assigned to a station. Multicoloured cones start to shape into a race track. The pipes unfold into hurdles. The sponges are put next to bowls of water which will be soaked for the throwing competition.
Just over 100 children from years 4 to 6 (8-11 years old) pour out of the classrooms. They are split into age groups and handed green, yellow or red sashes.
Reasmey, SBB’s project manager for the Bavel area, orchestrates the event flawlessly with a contagious enthusiasm. He soon has everyone in stitches and the children screaming with excitement.
The first round kicks off as the race starters shout ‘Moouy, bpi, BEY!’ (1,2,3). As the morning goes on, we perfect our techniques for running the stations. Once all the rotations are completed, all the children gather around as the scores are announced. Yellows are in the lead but the relay race is yet to come… the children cheer for their teams and whizz up and down the courses at unbelievable speeds. The final results are announced and although it was a close call, yellows triumphed in the end!
We hand out a medal to each child and they scatter around the playground grinning from ear to ear. While we pack the kit back into the van, a little girl is shouting something to Ankia. Rindy translates for us ‘Please come again!!’.
It’s a mostly uninterrupted short drive back to Battambang, where we stop for lunch at the homemade chinese noodles place.
After lunch we are given a couple of hours of free time; a perfect napping opportunity for most!
We regroup on the roof terrace of the hotel mid afternoon where Sian introduces us to the health programme we will be delivering the following day.
A new production line involving stockings and soap begins as we sip on some cold drinks. We reflect on our journey so far and discuss the challenges of our own cultural biases when participating in these projects. Before we know it, it’s time for dinner and indulge in a cheesy creature comfort: pizzas. We take a slight detour to get some brownies before heading to bed, ready for our penultimate day in Battambang.