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One Way Ticket

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon

Personal stories are hard to write, especially when you know you have really stepped away from the norm in a way that will leave people feeling one of two things. Reading this, I imagine, you will either feel confused, uncomfortable and distant from what I am about to share, or deeply inspired to take a big leap of faith in your own life and dream bigger than ever before.  Although I would love you to feel the latter, I really do understand if you feel the former.

In 2009 I set off backpacking just for the fun of it. I was eager to explore new cultures, meet new people and perhaps learn more about myself by subjecting myself to a year of things outside of my comfort zone.

A few very happy months into travel I had been making an effort to be more open minded in every way. I felt increasingly aware that I had grown up in a spiritually frugal culture that is quicker to choose disbelief in the hope that science will later come up with the answer, over risking the exploration of a spiritual dimension to the world that I’m increasingly sure affects us all beyond measure.

 

A serendipitous U - turn

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog  Logan Tryon

The morning I set off to explore Cambodia’s largest lake took a u-turn for the better; it led me to meeting the children that would change my life forever.

The original plan was to explore the lake by boat, but the setup didn’t have a good vibe, it seemed to be a bit of a tourist trap, so we u - turned and headed down a dirt road.  As we meandered down, intrigued by the throws of local life on the lake, we felt drawn into a dirt yard.  This dirt yard had a rusty metal shack that we later discover was the closest thing 24 very precious children had to a home.

We began to meet the smiling, love filled children that were trying to survive in this place.  Their situation was beyond anything I could comprehend.  We returned the following day with bags of of school supplies, rice and my friends Scottish shortbread.  We had an afternoon of playing games with the children and with the help of our tuk tuk driver we learned a little more about the children’s situation.

With the help of the tuk tuk driver, we discovered that the young Cambodian couple living with the children had been doing everything they could to home and feed orphaned and abandoned children in the area.  They couldn’t afford to feed them every day, but had done what they could to build them a shelter out of scraps of metal.

 

It was one of the most heartbreaking and heartwarming days of my life.

 

I had lost my way with God a little in my early twenties, well a lot actually. I was highly aware that I had grown up in country built on Christian values and tradition. I had convinced myself that the only reason I had ever believed in Jesus was because he was the one we get told about in the West. As a teenager I had been part of some amazing and enlightening Christian festivals and events where I was sure I had experienced the presence of God and indeed been deeply inspired to live my life in a more meaningful way. BUT, as I entered my twenties I wanted to try new things open my mind and experiment spiritually. A big part of travelling through Asia was to discover and better understand other religions, especially those based around Eastern philosophy.

 

This is why I was so shocked when I got back to my bamboo room.

 

I found myself praying to God, God as I had always pictured him, a loving father figure that actually took an interest my life.  I had been surrounded by Buddhist temples, teachings and imagery for months, I was nowhere near any Christian festival ambiance, yet I felt overwhelmed by a love that I trust to be the feeling you get when you truly take time to sincerely draw close to God.  My heart was racing, I couldn’t stop smiling and I knew something was changing. I felt an overwhelming sense that God was saying I had to come back to Cambodia.

 

I was so eager, I just wanted to stay, but the feeling that overwhelmed me was that I had to leave and return. I couldn’t see any reason to do it this way at the time, but the wisdom and reason became apparent over the following months.

 

The inbetween

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon

I went through a season of giving up the job I had waiting for me in England, letting go of securities and possessions, letting go of a relationship and most difficult of all, hurting my family.  

It is a hard thing for your loved ones to hear that you are taking a one way ticket to a developing country for an indefinite amount of time.

 

But, If you don’t start, how can it begin?

 

Giving my notice in at school I worked in, turned into been given 4 months work there, exactly as needed to save something to set off with.  Knowing I was going to a corrupt country at the same time as feeling honoured and humbled that people were giving so lovingly, I decided to register the charity.  Even though what I was doing was tiny by charity standards I wanted to do it right. The staff and students were incredibly supportive and together we were able to start some initial fundraising for the children in Cambodia. Many friends and family and even people I hardly knew gave very lovingly to the cause. 

I went on an intense personal journey on the run up to leaving.  I spent more time in prayer than I had at any other point in my life; I felt truly alive.

I could see both peoples kindness and God’s provision in everything, even down to a very unexpected situation that I still can’t fathom; I just know that my flight got paid for!

Alongside this, I also experienced a lot of heartbreak with my family, as I could see what I was doing was deeply scaring them, but I knew I had to go. Although many were encouraging, I also encountered a lot of doubters and haters, that did what they could to discourage and belittle what I hoped to do.

At times the doubts about never being able to pick up my life again as I knew it flicked through my mind. I had doubts about my safety, the thoughts of being alone and running out of things I needed, let alone actually being able to make a difference and be able to provide anything for the children I was going to help!

I didn’t even know for sure that the children would still be there, I had no way of contacting them; even messenger pigeon can’t go that far.

Every time a slither or ton of doubt and fear kicked in, all I had to do was pray and I knew God was with me and that every little thing would be ok.

 

Walking into Cambodia

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma TryonThe day came when I took that one way ticket.  I actually flew into Bangkok to save money and took a bus to the border where I walked across with just my backpack and a large box of tools.

As I made my way overland through the Siem Reap province, my nerves did kick in a little.  The thoughts of them not being there anymore, or something bad happening to them or maybe they just wouldn’t need me anymore flooded in.

As soon as it was light the following day I took a tuk tuk back to the area I remembered meeting them in.  

 

They were still there.

 

The rusty shelter was worse

 

They barely had any food when I arrived.

 

The first thing to do was find a local market and buy some food for the children.  Then, the small task of planning what and how on earth to give these children a home!  Walking around the rundown village area gave me an idea of how locals built, which gave a starting point for a sketch.  

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Our first day digging foundations with coconut shells

With very little to go off we started digging foundation with coconut shells.  Using string and sticks we worked out where 12 large logs could go to make sure the home would be high above the floods that what come in the wet season. As we dug the foundations, the children jumped in with joy and helped in any way they could.

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Joe Logan
Much needed help

My brother helped for a whole month, day in day out, through heat, dirt and madness, he was a huge part of building the children's first home. I was never alone; people would just turn up out of nowhere, not quite knowing how they found us, but often able to help in the most timely ways.

At the stage where we were about to negotiate the best way to strengthen this 12 pillar base to make it strong enough to hold the home up, a very kind retired construction engineer from Belgium arrived by bicycle and gave the advice we needed on the day we needed it. He then visited each day as we navigated building strength into the foundations and floor.  Before long we had a beautiful doctor arrive; as soon as word got out, the villagers were lining up to see her!

Years down the line, we still have the right people turning up at the right time to love and serve those in desperate need.

 

On a day when we completely ran out of rice , someone walked in with a new 50kg bag.

 

As we needed to buy the children's first beds and mattresses, people helped at the perfect time.

 

As we needed help unloading a huge truck of wood, a load of Koreans turned up to help us.

 

The day I thought it would be good to start filming what was happening, someone just gave me a video camera.

 

As we needed to build the roof, another constructional engineer, this time time from America, arrived just in time to help us get it right.

 

So many incredible people came to care for, play with and support the teaching and learning for the children.

 

Many people who were there from the beginning still support to this day.

 

From the day I arrived, everything was provided exactly as and when need.

 

Fast forward...

So what does this all look like 8 years later?  

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Working on the foundations
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Logan
The children are starting to see their very own home take shape
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
Working hard to help build their own home
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Logan Tryon
and always making time to stop and play
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Running with delight to put their first mattresses into their new home
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Tryon
Lots of new toys for play time

 

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Eventually we were able to give them all a new mattress and bed to sleep safely
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Eventually we were able to give each child somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
We built a new classroom together
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
Built with love and ready for learning
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon school classroom
Getting equipped
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Logan Tryon
So eager to learn. Little Dee just melts me!
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
Lots of creative ways to learn
Gianni Ricchetti teaching in love cambodia
They learned even faster with loving one on one support
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Tasha wilks bridlington
This beauty came to give the children music lessons
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
They're fast learners!
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
They can now eat healthy balanced meals 3 times a day
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
and lots of milk to make strong healthy bodies

 

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
They're first trip to the doctors was a little scary for them, but totally worth it
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
Fun days out
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Logan Tryon
New play clothes
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
And adorable new uniforms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many wonderful stories about seeing the children learn their first words of English and applicable bits of maths. I’ll never forget their faces when Pete first taught them some rather explosive Science.

The day we bought them a mattress was deeply moving.  They ran with delight, almost toppling over with the size of the mattresses, to their new home, knowing they would all have the first comfortable nights sleep of their lives.

Been able to buy them toys to play with, fresh fruit each day and all their own first toothbrushes may not sound much, but you could see it turning them into happy healthy stronger children day by day.

They now eat 3 times a day, all go to government school in full uniform and receive regular lessons at the orphanage itself. They have play clothes and school bags, they are loved and have hope for the future.

 

I found a friend

Pete and emma Tryon Love cambodia charity travel bloggers

Whilst living in Cambodia, Pete and I fell in love and got giddy about getting married. As soon as he could, he wrapped up his life in Malaysia and did everything he could to come and help the children in Cambodia. Shortly after we were married, we flew back to Malaysia, where wonderful friends donated books, toys and clothing for the children. Armed with a compass and a single A4 print off of South East Asia, we drove through Thailand into Cambodia, all the way back to the orphanage. This mighty little machine, scarcely the size of a Ford Fiesta, became affectionately known as Alan. This small but mighty car came to life and became well known by the children and many of the villagers we served. He seemed to run on goodwill and did more offroading than most 4x4 vehicles!

 

Oh, how it’s grown

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Pete Tryon
The science lessons definitely got better!
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
With the help of some epic volunteers we were able to build the children a playground
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
Which got a lot of love and appreciation!
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Pete Tryon
Great for big kids too!
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Pete Tryon
We were able to start connecting with and supporting families in villages
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
Very eager to help build their new floor
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
So many amazing volunteers made so much more possible
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
We were able to develop and support rural classrooms in poor villages
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog
There are so many ways to support the families in the villages
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
First chance they get, they will help themselves too, all they need is that initial support
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
I always felt to privilege taking the kind gifts of supporters into the villages to show them they are loved.
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
One of the many beautiful families we have been able to build a home for
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Pete Tryon
With growing support we are now able to build a build a few family homes each year
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon
The day we gave out over 100 red bicycles to help children get to school
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog
Volunteers building school packs for rural village children
Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma & Peter Tryon
That beautiful moment they get to open their own new school bag

Love Cambodia childrens charity rural siem reap travel blog Emma Tryon

The longer we spent in Cambodia and better understood how it worked, the more clear the urgency to home children became. Aside from the prevalent dangers of poverty leading to sickness and death; trafficking has become a growing threat. As Thailand has begun clamping down on trafficking, sadly it has pushed it over the border and further and further into Cambodia.

We became more motivated to ensure a secure long term living situation for those that were completely orphaned and where possible worked with families to keep children in family homes.

We began building homes in villages, a few classrooms and where we could, began providing daily soya bean milk for tiny tots to help them grow strong and fight the infant mortality rates. Every child should play, so with support of many amazing volunteers we were even able to build the children a playground when we moved to the new site.

We are now in a place where we can ensure the children we care for have everything they need for a healthy AND happy life. We are only a tiny charity, but because of that we can make sure 100% of what people give goes straight into directly homing, feeding, clothing and educating the children and families we work with. With huge thanks to the amazing locals we work with, we have been able to expand a little further and are able to build a few family homes each year in addition to ongoing work with the children’s home.  

Over time, things have worked so well, we felt we could move away from living in Cambodia, but of course we visit as often as we can and still completely run all the behind the scenes bits of the charity.

Wherever I wander and whatever, I do, a huge part of my heart will always be with the children of Cambodia.

I could never have foreseen the good that came from taking that one way ticket. I became so focused on the lives that I had set out to change, that it wasn’t until years in, I realised how much it had impacted my own life too. It really has been a one way ticket to a fuller, more exciting life than I could have ever dreamt of.

 

A little faith can go a long way.

 

 

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16 Responses

  1. Amna Abdullah
    | Reply

    Dear Emma,
    I have been following you for sometime and you have no idea how much you inspire me. This is beautiful. I wish we have more people like you. It made me warm and fuzzy. Absolutely in love with the photographs.
    Lots of love from Pakistan.

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Wow, Thank you so much Amna, that is such a kind message and I can’t quite express how much it motivates me to know that I can inspire you. Makes me want to be a better person! I feel so happy every time I look through the photographs too, just in love with the children, they really taught me so much too!

  2. Mary
    | Reply

    Your faithfulness to respond to what touched you truly brings a smile to God’s face.All the having to wait for stuff to happen at the right time brings to my mind a glimpse of what had been described about Abraham’s experience at Mount Moriah…
    Thank you for sharing..have been very blessed, and may His presence be with you and Pete as you continue to bring His Joy to others.Send our love to Pete..

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Thank you Mary, that is such a kind encouraging message. I will make time to look the story up and read it closely! Thank you for your sweet words, I will certainly send your love to Pete too.

  3. Philip Das
    | Reply

    Great work Emma it seems like just yesterday we met and you spoke your heart as to your vision for the children in Cambodia. Time has really passed and you’ve spent so much effort and time making things happen. Sometimes we go in search for God but least expect that he lives in people like you and Pete. I wish you both all the best take care and I pray that we’ll someday meet again.

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hi Phil, time really is such a funny concept, I know what you mean! Cambodia has always felt a bit like Narnia for me, a life time in a few years! If you saw some of the children you would believe time has passed; I’m going to be sharing one of our boys stories soon who has recently turned 18 and got a great job, but still helps the other children at the orphanage. Thank you for your prayers, I really do hope we get to meet again! Are we facebook friends?

  4. Stuart & Ruth Palmer
    | Reply

    Dear Emma, you may not remember us, we are Helen Mallarkeys mum and dad. I don’t spend much time on line but this morning came across this amazing account (put on face book by your mum) of your adventures and hard work in Cambodia. We knew you went out to Cambodia via Helen but had no idea about all we have just read, it has been truly inspiring, encouraging and uplifting as we have read your account of all that happened and how God provided in such wonderful ways, and we loved the amazing pictures. Stuart is unwell today so we were unable to go out to the morning meeting at our local fellowship, but have been so blessed reading all about what God enabled you to accomplish for Him in Cambodia. May God continue to bless you and your husband as you continue to serve Him and fulfill all He has purposed for your lives in future times.
    With our love, Ruth and Stuart. xx

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hi Ruth and Start, I do remember meeting you! I’m so happy that you found so much encouragement in this, especially on a day when you couldn’t get to church. There’s even more to the story, you really can trust God to have the best plans! Thank you for such an encouraging message, hope to get to see you again sometime, love emma

  5. Jo
    | Reply

    That was the best thing I’ve read in a long time!! Amazing!

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hi Jo, thank you really glad you enjoyed reading it 🙂

  6. I’m glad to finally hear the complete story of how your journey began. I think you were leaving Malaysia around the time that I arrived. I never met you, but I heard about LoveCambodia through Claire and Anette. You have done incredible work and inspire me to go out and do good as well.

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hey Michele, so lovely to hear from you! Thats such a kind thing to say, If you’re feeing inspired, it means that it was already in you to go and do it! Would love to hear more about your adventures, are you blogging at the moment?

  7. Sheena
    | Reply

    Hi Emma
    Just came across your amazing journey and work..we are embarking on our1st travelling experiance to thailand cambodia and Malaysia with our 3 little children aged 5 4 and 2.5yrs and wanted to do some charity work in a orphanage in Cambodia…any tips or recommendation on where to go. I’ve read lots in the interest abt orphanages in Cambodia being tourist haunts and that the orphans are often not really orphans..anyndndmd it’s staged for tourism. Please can u advise. We will be bringing a suitcase of toys clothes nail varnish etc to distribute and would love to help. It’s a way for us to give back a little but also for our own children to learn abt the world and how other children live. Much appreciated. Thnaks Sheena (uk)

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hi Sheena, I find this the most difficult question to answer, especially since the answer is constantly developing. I’m super excited for you taking such an adventurous trip as a family and love that you want to help. As you are aware though, it’s increasingly difficult to make sure you are doing more good than harm. Though we still organise group volunteering trips when I am available to go myself, we found short term volunteering just doesn’t work when I’m not there, it puts too much on the locals and if not managed carefully can be disruptive for the children. I really hope this doesn’t sound rude or discouraging! – If I was there now, I would love to have you visit and help out.
      So, I would suggest having a look at http://concertcambodia.org/local-projects/. Concert do everything they can to make sure all the projects they work with are legit and meaningful. Timing can be everything, it will often just depend what each one is working on at the time and what they have in place for volunteers. If you find one that you are connecting with well, they will be able to tell you what things would be good to take. Personally, I found Trail Blazer https://www.thetrailblazerfoundation.org/short-term.html to run the highest impact and most meaningful short term volunteering opportunities, as they are meeting essentials needs on a daily basis in a way that thrives from having all volunteers no matter how short or long their stay. You probably wont be going into orphanages and schools (Though sometimes they do water projects for such places) but you will be in villages meeting very real needs! If you ask them they may also appreciate you taking toys and clothes, but it’s worth checking on that. I really hope this helps and love your heart for this and am really encouraged by they way you are looking into it in a wise and sincere way, if more people volunteered this way, we would have a lot less problems!

  8. karl parrish
    | Reply

    Hi Emma, I’ve loved reading this lately :). It was suggested I come here by Michael who I’ve known quite well for some time now in Lincoln. I like how you’ve managed to come through especially with all the haters and jealousy from people around you. It’s quite scary how the ones closest are often those who wish to hold you back… aha

    I volunteered in Uganda in 2015 for 12 weeks on a teaching project & volunteering in Bangladesh at the end of May for 12 weeks, but I’m looking at kickstarting my own charity project next year in Peru with about 10 volunteers so any tips or advice you are able to give would be amazing 🙂

    I’ve recently started a blog (See website link) & I’m hoping to use that to inspire people to cross that comfort level and live a life they are currently afraid to venture into. It sounds like you’ve gone through the exact journey I am wanting to travel.

    I’d love to connect with you and see if we could help eachother or even share ideas etc.

    Kind regards, Karl Parrish. X

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hi Kari, love that you know my bro! I used to live in Lincoln too. You’re website’s looking great already. It takes a crazy amount of work, constantly digging deep and teaching yourself new things to get a good travel website going and everyone chooses different paths. I know this may sound a bit too general, but there’s no short answer.
      Your volunteering experiences in Bangladesh and Uganda sound awesome and like they really inspired you. The best advice I can give for running your own project is don’t do it just because it’s ‘volunteering’ or even because it’s a nice thing to do, find something you’re deeply passionate about, find a true cause and approach it with love, everything will follow from there. If you do things from the heart, you’ll work out the logistics.

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