“1 dollar!! 1 dollar! Please sir 1 dollar!” these voices echoed as my boat cruised into Tonle Sap.
I have been told beforehand that a visit to Tonle Sap, Cambodia would change my life. It did. Exactly the first moment the boat I took departed from it’s port. Little that I know the small boats I saw from distant racing to tourist boats were not the fishing or people trying to sell souvenirs boat as I thought it was. It was boats of family begging for a living.
It shattered my heart.
Apparently these people are Vietnamese refuges who seek protection on Cambodia’s biggest lake- Tonle Sap. Desperate to feed growing family, leaving them with no choice but to beg for a living. I can only cry inside seeing how these young-poor-innocent children life’s being robbed by their own parents. These kids were forced to handle python, tortoise and other kind of creatures to capture tourists’ attention. They did got mine.
For the next few hours, I was literally throwing money (Dollars and Ringgits of whatever I had) from my boat into their smaller boat; I wish I have had more money but I had only what I had. I hope that my measly donation could somehow eradicate their hunger and give them hope to come out from their poverty.
I have a sensitive spot for children, that mainly because I was a teacher teaching primary school children. I wish I have the wealth and power to make their life better.
If something that’s gonna scar me for life is that I saw a desperate mother who had to smack her baby to the boat, to make her cry, I believe to get our attention. It broke my heart. It was just…too much…That was my last straw before asking my boat guy to take me back to the port. I left Tonle Sap, Cambodia with a heavy heart, knowing that their life will go on everyday just exactly I saw it.
I will be back,- with a stronger heart and probably some help.Hopefully by giving them chance to a better life.
- This story was written in conjunction of Asian on Air Program 2013- a co-organized event between Korean Air and Korean Tourism Organization. A yearly event that collects bloggers from Southeast Asia to experience Korea. More information, check out their event page.