Cambodian kids bring tears of joy! - Our visit to a remote school in Thailand

Small girl looking pensive, thoughtful

Steps With Hope

Desperately in need of funds to continue their support of this little school in Thailand, Founder of Steps With Hope, Jen Spoor, hosted a Mother's Day High Tea. After her presentation, I said to Jen, "if you want to make a bigger impact, you need better photos".  

So that was that and I committed to visiting the school on their next trip.  

Small girl looking sad or uncertainMeet The Kids

If you're like us, you will want to meet the kids right away.

There are about 70 children currently attending the school with three classes starting at Kindergarten age.  These children come from poor Khmer families, remnants of a recovering population that has endured one of the darkest times times in its history.  Around 3 million people slaughtered and many more terrorized by the Khmer Rouge has left a devastated people still clawing its way back to normality. 

Families reside in makeshift huts just over the border in Cambodia. The children walk across the Khlong Hat border checkpoint into Thailand each day for their lessons and a hot meal.

Young Cambodian girl smiling beautifully at having her photo taken

The kids were shy and reserved their emotions at first though it didn't take long for them to warm to us and us to them.

Young kindergarten boy smiles from ear to ear.

Extremely delighted children playing around at having their photo being taken!

Boy hugs is sister and she holds his hand. She is super happy to be receiving his lunch. He looks satisfied that he could make her happy. Lunch Time

The children are meant to arrive around noon but quite a few kids were already at the school in anticipation of our visit.

After a few messages from their teachers, they are sent one class at a time to receive a hot meal.  

With their small containers or bowls, they line up for vegetables, rice and a piece of fruit. Some chose to take the food home to share with their families. 

This darling boy has given up his lunch for his little sister who had been hanging around the school. What a sweety.

Small child, a girl around 3 years of age, hangs by the doorway hoping to sneak some lunch.

Two children, one a boy and one a girl, with their hands together in thanks for the meal they are about to receive

Cambodian boy, around 5 years of age, is eating his lunch of rice and an egg from his plastic container whilst sitting at his school desk

Large tin platter of bananas and a large basket of pineapple being held by a young smiling Cambodian boy

Lunch for these Cambodian Children today is rice, eggs and pineapple. Being served outside the school. The children line up. The teachers serve from large tin pots.

Cambodian boy is super excited to receive his lunchtime meal of rice, egg and pineapple.

A Young Cambodian Girl holding up her creaton, a Poodle Mask

Craft Time

Between us, our team packed over 80Kgs worth of craft activities, wall decorations, learning material and clothing into our luggage to bring to the children. We also had spent a great deal of time preparing the activities so were keen to share these at the school.

Believe it or not, the photo on the right is extremely special. For two reasons. One, from the first day, this kinder girl appeared extremely sullen. There was a heartbreaking sadness in her eyes. After a couple of days, she warmed to us, thoroughly enjoyed her crafts and by the end of our time, she was smiling from ear to ear.

Second reason this picture is meaningful. This was the toughest craft activity I have ever come across. This was a major achievement for us as well as the kids.

Young Cambodian boy holding up his latest craft creation, a Monkey Mask

Teacher helping young Cambodian girl to create her craft project, a mask.

Two boys concentrating whilst gluing the crepe paper onto large stars, a craft project donated by Steps With Hope.

Very small Cambodian boy posing with his craft creation, a mask with feathers and diamantes.

Young Cambodian girl putting together a chicken craft. She is smiling and happy.

The craft that Caity and I were responsible for were the framed portraits of each child and teachers. The team had primed the frames previously so that the kids could paint them right away. Meanwhile, I took each child's photograph. Remember, we had only just met the kids so this was not an easy task.

The morning after, whilst the team readied for breakfast, Tat (our guide and leader of the school foundation) and I had the photos printed in Sa Kaeo town.

Once the frames had dried, the kids decorated them with diamantes and stickers. They were absolutely thrilled with their frames. They've probably never had a framed picture of themselves in their lives so this was pretty special.

Young Cambodian girl poses for her portrait. Then showing her decorated framed photo.

It was difficult not to be moved by these children who despite their circumstances, approach each day with pure joy and revel in happiness.

Stay tuned for more about our school visit in next week's post.

Thanks for stopping by. Back to reality now...

About The Author

Nina Beilby. Sydney Australia. Photographer. Corporate. Headshot. Linkedin
Nina Beilby is a professional photographer and photography educator based in Chatswood, Sydney, Australia. You can see more of her work at

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