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The Little Sweeties of Paillote Sihanoukville

Behind an old train station in Sihanoukville lies the paillote of the PSE Summer Camp. The small building surrounded by trees is a PSE day center during the year and it was only last year that the summer camp first opened there. According to Alvaro, the coordinator, this paillote serves a very poor and rural community. “The location is so isolated that the children have to cross the train tracks every morning to get here”. The strange weather is another characteristic of this paillote. “It rains every day, but neither the monitors nor the children care that much. On the second day there was a huge downpour and we thought nobody would come, but we waited in the rain anyway, and sure enough, out of the rain came many soaking, smiling children running towards us.”

 

Alvaro on the beach amid the chaos of children
Alvaro on the beach amid the chaos of children

The children of this paillote are 3 to 6 years old. “It’s very difficult to capture their attention”, comments Álvaro. Tomasz, however, a first-year monitor, thinks they have improved. “We are getting better at organizing the activities and the children are a lot more responsive! For example, on the first week we noticed that they didn’t like carrots because we found them thrown everywhere after lunch. Now they’ve learnt to throw them in the bin. They also follow our example by helping to pick up the mats are the siesta.”

 

Tomasz, under a heap of children
Tomasz, under a heap of children

For Tomasz, experiencing the living conditions of this community and working at the paillote has been an opportunity to reflect. “It’s amazing to see our western world from another perspective. We have so many things that we don’t need and we chase things that lack value.  I always knew we could be happy with much less but it wasn’t until I met these children that I truly realised it”

 

Rotha, aka as "the crazy monitor" because her energy never runs out
Rotha, aka as “the crazy monitor” because her energy never runs out

This is Rotha’s second year as monitor in Sihanoukville. She studies at the PSE School of Media in Phnom Penh. She has been involved with the organisation both as a student and as a volunteer. “I have always thought that what Mami and Papi are building is wonderful and I want to follow their example. I don’t have money to give to others but I have time and energy to help.”

 

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