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The first night in Kempeng Village, Takeo Province, ghost came and disturbed my slept, even facing on me while I wake up. It was the first time I saw him with naked eyes, not in my dream or my sighting.

In white gown, he was standing out of my net. His yellow light eyes seemed like nailing me in my mattress. I yelled at him, “Sopo kowe?” Who are you, in Javanese language. He was still watching at me, before walked through the window and disappeared. I guess he is not tall, just around 1.55 meters.

It’s hard for me to sleep again after that. But when I fallen a sleep, I’ve got a strange dream. It’s like I’ve been killed two people, my closed friends, and their souls haunt me forever. They followed me, to remember me for what I’ve done to them. It’s a scary dream. Until now, I still can remember the shape of the ghost and the dream.

The reason why I came to Takeo was a local NGO namely Our Friend Orphanage. There is a young guy, named Samnang Hoen. He is director of OFO. He said he needs a volunteer to teach English and do anything to help orphanage in Cambodia.

I went there after contact Samnang first. In my thought, there was an old house with many children live in it, just like in the photos Samnang’s blog showed it. Maybe there were fifty, or a hundreds children who live in poor condition, so they deeply need help. But it’s just my imagination.

When public taxi drop me at high masonry wall near the street, I knew I was wrong.  There were two houses in it, a good brick house where Samnang’s  family live there, and a wooden stage house where the teacher lived. I slept in stage house. Behind the stage, there was a school with the benches and a board.

There were no children stay or live here, and the school would start on 1 pm for three hours everyday except Sunday. “We run out the money, so we send back the pupils to their family,” Sophean, one of two teachers, told me.

How come they run out the money? I read about OFO before, they got founding from USA and it could be thousands of dollars. “We have many programs before. We help villagers who their houses lost by big floods around Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.”

Oh, still I could not understand. In my experience before, there was a messy for local NGO spending all of your money just for one or two programs. NGO must has long plan for their future, a sustainable plan. It can not just hope and totally depending on donors, but has to maintain the people around to improve their live with their own power.

The next day I met Saran, another teacher. She lives in other village, 3 kilometers from the school. She works as a math teacher in the village’s school every day, and after that teaches the children in OFO. She gets 50 dollars from the government and 120 dollars from OFO. “Wow, a good salary if I compare with the teachers in my country. But if it compares with development country like USA, it’s a small sum,” I though.

After bought the children books and pencils drawing, I decided to go back to Phnom Penh. I wanted to meet my friend, and I thought it’s like wasting my time if I live any longer in Takeo. They already have their own teachers, there is only little time to do volunteering. Beside, I did not like the name ‘orphanage’ which does not look appropriate with the school condition. All the children, the pupils, have family. They are not orphans. Offcourse they are nice and talkative children and they want to learn English so much.

Well, I left Takeo does not because it was a Ta Mok –former butcher for Polpot’s regime- homeland. Neither I was afraid of the ghost. I just felt the place was not belong to me. I still appreciate honesty, not manipulate name and a good intention for NGO. But I support people who came there to teach the children.

Here are some pictures about Kempeng Village, in Takeo.

the skinny cows

the people houses

monk on the road

children at school

our friends orphanage


around kempeng village