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Posted on Dec 28, 2012

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)

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.

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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.”

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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.

Gabi

13 Comments

  1. We live in Southern Thailand (Krabi) and I can relate. There are people out there like the ones you met, but unfortunately not enough.

    Just discovered your site and blogs, and am enjoying your journey.

    • danny, so honored to meet you. not enough for sure. that’s why i was so skeptical at first. but, when you see it, you see it. look carefully at the video again and you will see a young boy with very distorted face and skin. we’ll be working on trying to help him as well. how did you find our blog danny? we are so honored to have you . thank you for commenting. it helps us sooo.

      • I found your blog through a mutual FB friend “Family on Bikes”. Nice to meet you as well and keep up all the good work you’re doing.

        • danny, what a joy. i love nancy and her family so much. thank you. so honored to have you along for the ride. happy new year. gabi

  2. I was so sad when she ran out of gifts! What a beautiful thing to be a part of!

    • so was i. i wanted to cry. totally. and then i felt sooo bad cuz the day before they gave each of my kids a present… and my kids so don’t need it. how did you find us laurel dear? i’m so glad you are here. welcome dear. i felt honored to be there too.

  3. What a nice video to start 2013 with Gabi! Thank you for sharing this. What a feel good place!

    • i know. i know. it is such a good feel place. and that’s part of having fun, right? i’m following your lead dear vago! happy new year. gabi

  4. What a great way to start this year. I wish this sort of thing happened year round, as opposed to just during the holidays…

    • Completely agreed. I started teaching as a way to live abroad for a year, and I’ve found that it’s one of the most selfless professions anyone could have. I may not be Tita, but I hope my students remember me long after I stopped teaching them.

    • yes, really really lovely to see the christmas spirit really really alive..

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