Erika Mosher is 21, in her third year as a Communications and Media student minoring in Business. She is from Georgetown ON. In 2016 she went to Cambodia with Reach Out Volunteers for 3 weeks, here is a little bit about her trip.
How did you get involved with Reach Out Volunteers?
“Reach Out Volunteers had reps come to our lectures to push people to sign up! I was in first year when I heard about it and was really eager to get involved, I also never had the opportunity to travel in high school so this sounded awesome. Our first two weeks were spent on an island, and the following two weeks were at Cambodia’s wildlife sanctuary.”
Did you do any special prep leading up to the trip?
“Leading up to it I just prepped myself by researching the culture of Cambodia. I started a go fund me page and raised about $2k from that which was really helpful. I’m still in debt with my parents from the flights lol”
What did you do once in Cambodia?
“My favourite memories would be nights on the island of Koh Rong. All day we’d be working our asses off either building a cement rain water catchment, getting our scoops diving license, or building artificial reef pods to later plant in the ocean. Every night we finally got a chance to unwind and sit around a fire on the beach. The ocean we were swimming in was one of 3 areas in the world that have sparkling plankton. If you shook around the water it would glow up like the stars in the sky- was so dope. I think about my summer nights in Kog Rong all the time.”
What was your best meal?
“My favourite meals were at the elephant sanctuary we volunteered at. It was all vegan. I’m not a huge vegan person but this food was soooo good. Everything was fresh and had so much flavour. I felt great living in Cambodia all month because we were always eating fresh, home grown, non gmo’d food!”
What surprised you the most?
“What surprised me the most on this trip was how happy the people living on Koh Rong island were. They had NOTHING. They’re lives consisted of literally hunting and gathering, or entertaining travellers. Very simple lives they live and some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.”
Do you feel your perspective has changed after going on this trip?
“My perspective for life was completely altered. I learned that it doesn’t take anything but some good company to be happy. I learned how grateful I am to living in Canada but I’d love to go back and live on an island in Cambodia any day. I learned the balance for life while I was there- don’t take too much but don’t settle for too little. I got a tattoo while I was there based on a Buddhist teaching “equanimity” meaning neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.”
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?
“Adjustments that were hard was the humidity.. I was literally not ever dry for the entire month. My hair was always wet and my body was always damp.. only took about a week to adjust. I missed having clean water too to bath in. We used rain water to wash ourselves in the “bucket showers”. Literally took a bucket of rain water and dumped it on our heads. One week on the island it didn’t rain for a couple days and we ran out of water.. pretty gross but that was life there and we were lucky enough to even have a tub to collect water for us.”
What are 2 things about Cambodia the average person does not know?
“Cambodia holds one of the 7 wonders of the world being Angkor Wat temple. Cambodia isn’t entirely a poor country. Had a lot of wealth in some areas.. you’re either driving a Lexus or a scooter.Cambodia also has no garbage collecting system so the entire country is COVERED in garbage like the streets are filled with piles of it. Always smelled pretty bad.”
What was the hardest part of the trip?
“Hardest part about the trip was leaving the island. I think about it all the time and look forward to the day I can return.”
Check out Reach Out Volunteers here!
Keep up with Erika on instagram here!
*pictures were taken by Madigan Cotterill