In 2006 Jo first visits the Kingdom of Wonder with friend Christina, stays at Earthwalkers and meets some incredibly inspiring individuals, all of whom played a significant part in HOPE’s development, and sees first-hand how responsible tourism can make a difference.
Tanya and Jo meet first volunteering at Schools for Children of Cambodia, working with Jay and Rachel. Here is where we are introduced to the realities of poverty and the real Cambodia outside the tourist hub, witness the rawness of education and motivated by the children’s passion to learn. We sign up to help three schools everyday cycling kilometres apart to teach English in hope they could break free from the poverty cycle and work in the tourism industry and converse with English speaking tourists.
Tanya starts working at Sangkheum Center for Children delivering English lessons and first meets the young adults we go on to assist in teenage life. Jo works with the Iron Workshop, Sangkheum’s first attempt to run a youth training workshop in iron welding. Jo organises their office procedures in order to improve management, sales and accounting.
In March 2007, Tanya’s six-month sabbatical ends, but discussions begin on how more help can be given to the young adults we have met. Both Trustees new they couldn’t just return to England and walk back into ‘normality’.
Jo continued volunteering at Sangkheum and help develop, with Nathan, the Young Adult Programme (YAP) and taught English to the newly recruited students, aptly named YAPs.
Jo also worked at the Silk Lab teaching English to the workers. The Silk Lab, a mini enterprise on site at Sangkheum proving safe work and training facilities for women to make silk products to sell to tourists. Ton Pin, who was the most enthusiastic student in class, determined to learn and study and earn independently. The first of many to harness an opportunity to presented to him.