To help bring in money for their families, children gather at dawn at the temples of Angkor Wat to sell souvenirs to tourists. Most of the children only have 1 small meal of rice with a few vegetables each day. If they have a good day selling their trinkets, they might have enough money to buy a little rice for lunch. But, despite these harsh conditions, these courageous children remain sweet and kind.
Most of all, they are eager to learn. Many have taught themselves rudimentary English and memorized the capitals of countries to impress tourists. I asked one of the children, Wan, what he wanted to be when he grew up and he quickly responded, “I want to be a tour guide!” For these children, escaping fieldwork to spend their days strolling through the temples is the most they dare to dream. And so, our mission became clear – to gather enough money to send the children to Intensive English school and to help their families with basic food and shelter needs so that the children could attend school instead of working.