Can you introduce Sen Sok camp?
It is located in a village 45min away from central camp. This is the second year of this paillote, and we receive about 140 children a day, most of them between the ages of 3 and 10. They live around here, so every morning they come walking and what’s lovely is that when we arrive they are waiting for us. It’s an open paillote because we accept all children and we are always in contact with the families who come to pick them up every day. The other day at lunchtime I saw three little children picking rubbish outside and we talked to them and told them to come in and have lunch. They were the happiest children in the world. The Khmer coordinator spoke to them and they promised they would come for lunch every day and stay the afternoon if they could. What’s great is being able to find new children for PSE and the social services this way.
What is unique about the paillote?
Definitely the showers! Last year there were no showers, and that was really the aim for this year. Many of the children don’t have running water at home so they rarely wash. We arrived on the first day and saw the playground; we thought we could make something out of it. We got creative with the tarp and kramas, and we decided the kids would wait in a chuchua in the stairs and would come through the tube and down the slide to the showers. They absolutely love it, it’s like another activity for them! Many come back to shower again and again, it makes them enjoy the process of cleaning themselves!
Tell me about your experience coordinating, was it what you expected?
This year is very different because I can’t always be playing and dancing with the children, I have to motivate the monitors and keep an eye on everything. As a coordinator you get to know PSE a lot better and understand how things work. The most interesting aspect is working with the social services, you realise how helpful the summer camps can be. I’m surprised because at first I didn’t know how I would coordinate, but it has been great and I’m having a lot of fun.
Was it a challenge?
I think overall it’s easy, every day small things happen but you figure out how to solve them one by one. Every camp has its own difficulties. The challenge here is to motivate the monitors because the children are very young and they get bored, escape or start crying. Another difficult part is taking care of the children with injuries. You have to be very flexible and patient all the time.
How has your experience of PSE evolved over the years?
In the first year everything is new and you are surprised by everything. The second year you know how it works and you are more involved, it goes really fast and you know how to make the most of it. The third year I had more responsibilities but still I had a lot of fun. This year, I didn’t expect to coordinate Sen Sok and I think it has been one of the most emotional years. When you are responsible for the children you enter their lives a little more, you know their stories. I feel like a mother for all the children, I want the best camp for them. Every year we have more camps and more monitors. It’s amazing how this grows and I think it just confirms the PSE motto: “Together we can.” When you have a dream, and you think about how to put it in place, if you believe you can do it, it can happen. When you go for it and you finally see the results, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world.