9.08.2011

A small path leading upwards opens up a breathtaking view over West Baray, a water reservoir that is now used as rice growing area, located west of the walled city Ankor Thom. A gaggle of 20 children with plastic bags in their hands is running towards the lake. They are collecting stones and sticks and foul-smelling mussels. We are on a walk through the environment around “First Steps School”. The collected sticks, stones and other natural material will be painted and used for making mobiles which will be hung up at school. This week we are collecting the material that is needed. With great excitement the children launch into the mud. It started to rain just when Vin, our tuktuk driver, picked us up in Siem Reap. It rained the all the way through while we were driving over muddy and partly flooded streets that was full of potholes filling up with rainwater. During the walk it was just dripping on the childrens wishes written down last week, that were now hung up along the way so everybody passing by could see them. Back in school the children washed the sticks and stones and put it into a box. Suprisingly they had collected hundreds of things, that made it necessary to use a bigger box for storage. During the walk the children could be seperated into those that were walking on their own, concentrating on finding the right things and those that were collecting while playing with their friends.It was good to see the sparkle in their eyes, when they proudly tied the knot to put up their wishes into the trees. The wishes that they had written down on plastic foil were randomly given back to them in this lesson and they were holding each others wishes in their hands. Their was no need to get your own ones back. It was a time to share this experience with each other. After cleaning the sticks and stones, we cleaned the place around the well together and we were looking at each other happily. We had found a way to be with the children outside and to still let them take their experience from the first lesson with them. This walk was a link between the first one where we discovered some of their hopes and wishes and the next one where we would start to pratically use what they had found in their environment. Their was still a bad smell in the air of the dead shells they had collected. But the wind also brought a sense of contentment about the freedom we discovered while being in nature.


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