Giving back to the communities we visit is very important to me and one of the projects closest to my heart is the ODA (Opportunities of Development through Art ) Free Village English School in Cambodia where local children acquire critical English-language skills, and are even able to practice these skills with visiting AmaWaterways guests from all over the world.
One of the most heart-warming events sponsored by AmaWaterways is the Annual Year End Celebration Party that brings together children from the ODA Free Village English School, as well as six additional ODA schools in the surrounding area.
There are now 1,300 students registered for the program, and it would seem that they all turned up for the festivities that included a Traditional Blessing Dance, fun games and a delicious lunch of Khmer Chicken Curry, fresh white noodles and French bread all prepared by a group of village volunteers. The students practiced their English while passing out local artwork as souvenirs to the delight of our AmaWaterways guests—many of whom joined in the dancing before reluctantly boarding the buses taking them back to AmaDara.
I would like to share the special message we received from Leng, the program administrator:
“It’s very special for all the village youngsters to come together in such a uniting, sharing and social way. The Village Chiefs ask us to please thank you for the education and experiences you are giving to their communities. They are beginning to understand the need for English and computer skills to gain improved employment in the future for their village youngsters, and their endorsement is probably contributing to driving our explosive student enrollment growth.”
While the students and teachers sent us the message of “AKUN TOM TOM” or "thank you big-big", it is us who send it back to thank them for sharing their joy and hospitality with our guests.