In the US, we often take basic education for granted. Here in Cambodia, education for the poor is a privilege that is beyond reach.
Most families have many children, upwards of 7 or 8. Income may only be a couple of dollars a day. To put food on the table for the family is nearly impossible. A small amount of rice with vegetables once a day is sustenance. The thought of buying a uniform so that a child can attend school is not even a consideration. The cycle is destined to repeat itself.
Anjali House was created to open the door for education for the poor. By providing uniforms for children to attend school, school supplies, two nutritional meals a day and supplemental education, they equip the children to learn and make a way for a better life.
WorldPix is privileged to support the children’s home of Anjali House in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that provides hope and a future for the poor children of Siem Reap through education.
On our visit, hosted by Simon (Director) and Nancy (Communications and Fund Raising Manager), we were provided a tour of the facilities. Colorful artwork decorated the walls in all of the rooms – indoors and out. It was a day for parents to come visit the school. Children played about outside while parents lounged on picnic tables in the shade. Anjali House had organized a family portrait session with local photographers capturing the family and providing a print to take home.
We were privileged to provide a photography workshop to the young adults who were pursing studies in photography. Partnering with Angkor Travel Photography (Alessandro Vannucci and Regis Binard), we worked one on one with a small group of students.
Our workshop entailed a brief overview for ideas and settings, then partnering with a student for a hands on shooting session. A short walk next door to the pagoda provided numerous photo opportunities and the setting for our worksop. The annual multi-day festival of Bonn Pchum Ben, commemorating the spirits of the dead, has the pagoda alive with activity. Locals are streaming in to bring offerings to the monks and the dead, and to receive a blessing.
Inside the pagoda, the light was soft. Monks, offerings, candles and people of all ages were subjects for our students. Although the light was beautiful, it was dark. This tested the students knowledge of their cameras, adjusting ISO, shutter speed and aperture to capture the light.
These students have a creative eye. In our group, most had been working on their photography for a couple of years. It was up to us to help them with the tools to capture images in the pagoda.
Next we went walked to another area within the pagoda where the monk was blessing the people and their offerings. The environment was even darker then the first location. Cranking up the ISOs and setting a slow shutter speed, we helped the students capture these special moments.
Next up was pagoda kitchen, where food was being prepared for a special meal. Here the light was bright around us, but dark in the cooking area . We were blessed with an amazing dark background on which to isolate our subject. Again, we worked closely with the students to adjust their camera settings.
I was amazed at how quickly they learned and the quality of images they produced. In fact, their perspectives inspired my photographs.
Our last stop was outside the pagoda, in an area of dozens of stuppas. Monks were again blessing individuals. The light was bright and harsh as it was nearing noon, a photographer’s nightmare. This ended our workshop. There was also ice cream for all the children – no wonder they were ready for the workshop to end.
It was wonderful to spend quality time with these students and get to know them on the next level. Jeff and I are considering other ways beyond monetary donations, to contribute to Anjali House – won’t you join us?