Day 14 Itinerary, travel via bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh 4.5 hrs. We had a bathroom break at a roadside stop mid travel, luckily for us the local women where selling a multitude of fruit currently in season. I was able to purchase a bunch of "salak" which is purportedly sour, sweet and delicious. It's commonly known as snake fruit, due to the reddish -brown scaly rough skin, closely resembling reptile skin, very intimidating fruit. I have read this fruit doesn't travel well and therefore isn't exported so we were excited to have the opportunity to buy it given its short season. Stay tuned as we all will be trying it at breakfast tomorrow.
We arrived in Phnom Penh for lunch where we were treated to eating at "Hagars", this is a restaurant school to educate and give on the job training to under privileged women in culinary services, their tag line is "eat for a cause". This is our second opportunity to eat here and the young staff are amazing, attentive, their food preparation and selection is exquisite. Our teams favourite smoothie was the passion fruit, really delicious. Tons of dessert treats but the exotic jackfruit fruit won me over.
With much anticipation we headed to "Daughters of Cambodia Boutique" where they sell locally made items such as bags, jewelry, clothing, accessory items, pillows etc.
This a christian organization that empowers victims of the sex exploitation to set themselves free from the sex industry and change their lives. A job in the sewing room at Daughters is their opportunity to exit the sex industry, supplemented by a range of support and therapeutic programs. This teaches them sustainable skills for living. They have a video presentation that we watched that highlights how, why and their strategy and in their short 7 years of operation they have helped over hundreds of women get out of the sex trade. It was a pleasure to "shop for a cause".
Could this day get any better? Literally yes, the "icing on the cake" in this case cupcake was our next stop at "Bloom Cafe". This is a cupcake lovers buffet! Seriously Bloom Cafe is not-for-profit organisation that empowers and skills Cambodian women while providing you with delicious irresistible cupcakes. I dare you to not buy one given the selection of over 18 flavours such as Apple Blueberry Cake with cream cheese icing, Chocolate Hazelnut Sacher Torte with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache, Passionfruit Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese, White Chocolate Macadamia Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese and for our purists Vanilla Angel Cake with Vanilla Cream.
Food for our tummy was maxed out but with that, we were still excited to go have pizza dinner with the youth, Marie and Sokthon at "House of New Dreams". What we received was "food for our soul"! We sat on the fourth floor, open balcony and started singing, the gusto and joy I felt was amazing, this was 8:30 pm and I was wondering what the neighbourhood people would be thinking, hearing these beautiful voices singing praises to god and believe me these 26 youth sound like a choir of 40. Some of us Canadians added depth to the singing but truly the youth sing the words with conviction. Then several of the youth shared their story of how they came to place of rescue and their walk with god. You could hear a pin drop as all 38 of us sat and listened, our hearts hurting for them, admiring their tenacity and then celebrating their success, all of them giving thanks to God for where they are today, who they are and how they can go forward and do great things....as Bryce quoted this morning from Philippians.."don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything" that's their motto, God knows their plan and they are excited to embrace it.
Tiveah sour sdei,
Melissa from Cambodia