By Travis Thompson
Ponheary Ly Foundation launched an English-teaching program for the staff of a new eco-tourism company in a community facing huge obstacles. The entire village is now dependent on tourism after authorities took their rice farms. Baray Reach Dak is a village inside the Angkor temple complex and includes a lake and ancient temples. Its beauty is astounding, but villagers there have been struggling since UNESCO renovated an ancient reservoir, which reclaimed centuries old rice farms.
Recently, an Australian organization, as well as government authorities, have helped the village start an eco-tourism company to take advantage of the naturally beautiful surroundings and provide a new source of income.
While scouting models for our own eco-tourism project at Koh Ker, PLF staff members went on one of the eco-tours, and quickly realized the strong need for English instruction, as that’s the common language of tourism. So, PLF talked with community members, and the organizations involved with helping the tourism company, to set a deal for teaching English every evening at the village.
PLF’s first volunteers at the project, Kate Morrison and Patrick Keeler, have been teaching English conversation as it directly relates to the eco-tours, nature and temple history. Students in their class range in ages and positions within the eco-tour company. Some are tour guides, some are boat drivers, others are welcome center staff members or administrative staff. PLF plans to work with other organizations to keep these classes going regularly, so if you’re applying to become a PLF Advocate, this is one project we may put you on. Let us know if you’re interested!