Nomadic Family Travel Blog For Long Term Budget World Travel With Kids — Yeah Right, You Do It For The Children- Christmas Gifts at CoCo Bungalows (Video From Koh Rong Island)
How often do you see, but really see a community being touched, enlightened, shared with, loved by an entrepreneur? But really. Really, really. I’ll be honest, when I first heard Sakip from CoCo Bungalows talk to me about their volunteer work on the Koh Rong Island with the village kids, I thought to myself, “Clearly, another marketing slogan. Everybody waves that “we’re here for the community flag. It’s all for the children.”
And, so, I came with reserved skepticism to put it lightly. And then, I saw stuff, with my own eyes that didn’t fit into the paradigm I had created. Things that were kind, loving, caring, concerned for the kids, people involved and smiling, not cuz they had to be but cuz they wanted to be.
Hmmm. There’s something going on here.
And then, I interviewed some of those staff members and they are concerned with the dogs on the island, about the locals having clean enough water to continue their livelihood of fishing despite (or in light of- I’m not sure) the booming tourism on their tiny paradise island. And I see the Koh Rong Dive Center staff playing with the kids, cuddling with them, volunteering during English class, because, they want to, because they like the children.
And I meet Tia, a Cambodian born and raised sweetheart whose family left for New Zealand over two years ago, who came back. “But why, Tia, why return here when you could be living in New Zealand, ” I ask her. “Because I care that my people succeed first. Then, I go on and see the world.”
And she tells me this, which gave me goosebumps and made me want to cry and hug her violently, at the same time:
“When the kids ask me, concerned how long I will be their teacher, how long I’ll teach them English, I tell them ‘Don’t you worry, Tia is here. I will hold your hand in mine for a long, long time, child.”
Oh, and she is paid for by the Coco Bungalows to be a waitress/hostess/chef/social butterfly and what does Renaissance lady do in addition to her job job? She teaches every day from 1-2 all the village kids English, and again from 6-7 to the older kids and adults. She wants her people to have the highest level of English to allow them to capitalize their sustainability through tourism, and guess who pays for her passion to help her people? An entrepreneur on the island, the owners of Coco Bungalow. Not your typical capitalization monster, no?
And this I see with my own eyes, and the Christmas presents, and them employing the first ever PAID-certified Cambodian Dive Instructor who walks around here, like a kindly spirit, giving, doing, interacting with his Khmer kindred and tourists with the same charm and ease. His name is Pierre (Englishized) and you’ll find him in his button down shirt or Koh Rong Dive Center t-shirt on the pier on any given day.
And you’ll find Tia, the Cambodia New Zealand patriarch, and Tara, the unpaid nature conservatory marine scientist and entomologist trying to create programs to support every aspect of this growing communities development. (Interviews coming up soon…. I promise!)
I am proud to be a part of this small tropical island paradise community. And if, no when, you come to Koh Rong Island, to do your scuba diving or snorkeling or to chill in the soft sands of island paradise, I hope you will consider visiting Tia’s English class, and supporting Tara’s holistic environmental efforts, and strongly consider eating Coco’s amazing BBQ and staying at their bungalows and support businesses who actually give back.