“Our six incredible months”
by Lucie & Augustin, volunteers at Bayon School.

“As our Cambodian experience is about to end, we wanted to share with you our feelings about our six-month mission at Bayon School. As a freshly married young couple respectively working in marketing and finance, we decided to take a year off our busy Parisian lives! This sabbatical year had a double objective: give our energy (for free) to people who need it and take more time to build our future couple life. Six months later, we can say that this experience clearly exceeded our goals and expectations. Baudouin and Charlotte entrusted us with many projects, both at the pastry school and at the primary school. Lucie has been very involved in the daily management of the Coffee Shop, especially in the coaching of our three waitresses: Sreyleak, Sothyea and Sreyneang. She also conducted two projects:
– the sale of Kampot pepper at the Coffee Shop (sewed by primary school mothers in small Krama bags, which enabled the mothers to gain some complementary income).
– the launch of a food truck of which the objective is to sell Bayon School pastries around Siem Reap, with the idea to also use it as a communication tool for the Coffee Shop.

For his part, Augustin spent most of his time at the primary school working with the social workers to help them on various projects, such as:
– the organization of regular mind-opening activities outside school in Siem Reap for Grade 5 and 6 (visit of Krousar Thmey, an NGO providing education to deaf and blind children, visit of a social business recycling paper, field trip to support the professional football team of Siem Reap, etc.).
– the launch of sports lessons including the recruitment of a Khmer sports teacher. Lucie also helped to launch some traditional Apsara dance classes thanks to a partnership with the NGO Krousar Thmey.
– the kick-off of green organic gardens in 10 families of the primary school with the help of Agrisud NGO. The objective is to provide organic vegetables to our canteen and provide an extra income for those families.
– the creation of a Bayon School football team.

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We have been delighted to be involved in all those projects, yet getting to know local people is the most powerful thing we’ll remember from those six months. Meeting them helped us to really live with the Khmers. It helped us understanding them and going beyond a simple “doing” experience. As we were accommodated within the Pastry School, we had the chance to live the daily life of the pastry students, regularly sharing their diners and helping with their homework! This “living with people” experience also took place at the primary school (for example during the football and volleyball games) and through the family visits we did with Soki, our social worker at the primary school. The children often gave us valuable life lessons – the way they always smile despite the difficulties they face at home is simply incredible. After six months they have become heroes for us to whom life has given many chances at birth.

Last but not least, the dynamism and the good mood of all the volunteers with us at Bayon School also contributed to making this adventure a very rich experience. We are now heading back to Paris, far from the rice fields and the Angkor temples. Going home will be tough but we are leaving with amazing memories that we will keep for life. We now hand over to Marine and Claudia, and we wish them to live those six months as blissfully as we did.”

Lucie & Augustin

, 14 March 2018