When we visited the Wild Life Sanctuary, we were literally walking through the forest with wild animals. According to Trip Advisor, there are over 1,200 animals. Some animals were caged but others were loose such as the deer and monkeys. We saw many different animals, from monkeys, to bears, to lions, to tigers, to deer, to water buffalo.
However, what grabbed our attention the most was the people. They were carrying fruit and sugar cane to sell to us so we can feed the animals. They were strongly pushing for us to buy their products so they can support their families. This was a fundraising tour and 100% of profits went directly to the rescue, rehabilitation, care and release of wildlife. It also helped the workers who are living in poverty. They even had small children and a baby there that had no diaper on. We noticed there were many children, then learned this was a strategy used to influence tourist to give into buying their merchandise. This opened our eyes to see how poor and desperate they were to make an income. We learned that many children live so deep in poverty that their parents can’t afford to put them in school, so they end up in places like this animal sanctuary, working. I (Aiyanna) was able to talk to a ten year old girl that was following us as we traveled through the wilderness of this sanctuary. The little girl ended up there because her parents were divorced. She had other siblings but happened to be the youngest, and she also mentioned how her father was very ill and unable to get out of bed. This little girl at the age of ten was working in this sanctuary, and that has to be one thing that struck my attention the most.
By our conversation I could tell that she was very selfless, as she talked about how she was saving up money in hopes to help her father get proper medical attention. This visit to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary definitely made a lifetime impression for the both of us.
With love from Cambodia,
Aiyanna and Alexis
Seeing such extreme poverty and despair is certainly an eye-opener. Good on you for your sensitivity and compassion.