Siem Reap

The air was jovial and serious at the little TAL kitchen. The consistant thud! thud! thud! of metal on wooden/ plastic chopping boards reminded us of our mission and our goal today: to feed little children on the facility at 2pm today.

Once everything is ready, we moved everything to the front of the house and waited for the kids. I’m in charged of the noodles. The kids sampeahed everyone in the yard, greeted everybody and then proceed to queue up quietly. Mavis stood by the side, cheerily greeted every kid that comes in and gently reminded me of their preferences. Some don’t like noodles, some vegetables. Most of them lapped up their food and asked for seconds. 

After the distribution, the kids got to play soccer with a few TAL regulars at a field nearby. I opted to stay behind and just take in the surroundings. Mavis’s keen observation of the children’s food preferences is impressive. It showed how dedicated she is to the children there.

This morning, we bargained our way through the tuktuks in front of Kochi-Ke and got a tuktuk that is willing to bring us to TAL for $1. Catch is, he doesn’t know where it is and Stacey would have to guide him. Upon reaching, he said that it is too far and he’d lose money if he brought us home for such a cheap fare. Before we could be pissed for his abandonment of us, he looked at me (I’m nearest to him) dead in the eye, and said, 

I know this place. I thank you for helping the children of Cambodia.

I brazened his honest gratitude, unsure of what I should say or do. I chuckled awkwardly, looking at the rest of them for help. Mervyn, my saving grace,  acknowledged his thanks with one of his own: thank you for bringing us here. The tuktuk driver shot us a quick smile, jumped on his motorcycle, and left us. 
His words left me a little… exposed. I didn’t volunteer solely because I want to do good. I wanted to gather and share stories. I felt guilty of trivializing the hard work of TAL. I felt like a fraud, shrouding myself with goodwill amidst good men and women that actually deserve that praise. 
I watched Cho played with the children joyfully, both parties enjoying each other’s company. Squeals of laughter masked the severity of the problem- unsolvable poverty. TAL is more than a food delivery system; it’s a temporary haven for kids to be kids. It’s an ecosystem that brings foreigners and locals together, and to work on a mission together.

TAL’s work will, if not already, impact the lives of hundreds and thousand of Cambodians and volunteers. And I am privileged enough to be part of it today. Does that makes me a worthy recipient of the tuktuk driver’s gratitude? Of course not, not yet anyway. His bold appreciation, however, did slap me across the face. It did made me want to live up to his expectation. And one day, I’m going to. 

I was immersed in my thoughts with an absent smile on my face when Stacey came by and sat next to me on the bench. Stacey spoke, with a proud tint to her voice, 
“Pretty amazing day huh?”
“Uh huh. Pretty amazing day.”
April 19, 2016
September 12, 2016
  1. Anonymous

    You muz be a veli ugly selfish insecure woman trying to boost yur ego wif stories of other people hardwork here online where nobody can see yur face


  2. Angelynn Tan

    First, I apologize for not showing my face on my site. There's been a problem with the HTML and for the life of me, I can't figure out how to fix it. But, the story I wrote is what I encountered in real life. I have nothing but respect for what TAL does. In fact, I mentioned that I felt inadequate in the face of the great work that TAL does, and that I strive towards being good enough to actually receive that compliment. I'm sorry if there's anything that's misunderstood. Let me know what I can do to make my points clearer.

    By the way, it would be a less ironic idea to not use anonymity when accusing other people of hiding behind anonymity. Just sayin.



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