In Khmer culture it is traditional to celebrate various holidays from all around the world, providing a great opportunity for most companies to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the city in Phnom Penh. This week Hope for Justice’s Shine Career School was closed on Monday for Labour Day, so the Hope for Justice Cambodia team decided to use this time to create an opportunity for the girls to give back to the community. Teachers and staff showed up on their day off to help the girls participate in a litter clean-up at a local school in Phnom Penh.
They set off at 8.30 to a school with beautiful greenery scattered throughout it, concrete walls and a small playground that the girls enjoyed playing on when they had breaks. There was litter scattered around the school and there were heaps of it in the back alley and side sections of the buildings.
The girls worked tirelessly to sweep, rake, and pick up litter in three different sections of the school.
Da Ya*, one of the students at Shine Career School, said: “I was very happy doing the clean-up and it made me want to help other communities make that change. I liked that I knew how to clean up the area and it made me feel good knowing I was helping others.”
Da Ya even helped save a frog while we were there from a mound of litter near a barbed wire fence.
Pollution and waste disposal in Cambodia are major issues, especially in Phnom Penh. Watching the girls work together as a team to help fix these problems and reconcile previously compromised areas showed so much growth and compassion in the staff and the group of girls currently living at Dream Home. They all laughed and smiled throughout the day as they helped their country and schooling system become a more clean and livable place.
Full-time teacher, Kim Hor, said: “We became a part of the community and helped the children have a clean place to learn and get fresh air.
“It is so good for the girls to get more experience and learn how to help other people who don’t have the ability to do it for themselves.”
*Name changed to protect the survivor’s identity
Photography: Annelise Blackwood