« Nothing predicted that I would cross paths with these eleven women »
Camille joined the Bayon in June 2022 to work on the Green Farming program. Her project was to strengthen the technical knowledge of our Farmers and help them develop their sales to other potential buyers such as restaurants, hotels and markets in Siem Reap.
She looks back on her journey after 6 months with our Farmers.
« For a long time now I wanted to get involved in international development programs and thus promote agroecology in the world. This simple wish became true two years ago, when I discovered an internship offer from the Bayon School: “Green Farming Project Assistant”. This internship included everything I had imagined myself doing for years: agro-ecology consulting, production monitoring, data analysis, conducting experimentations…
Why did I get involved in the agroecology field? Because in addition to the technical and scientific aspects, advocating soil conservation methods and promoting biodiversity in growing areas, it also links cultural, sociological, political and economic notions. Producing according to an agroecological model means preserving the environment, but also and above all producing while making a trade-off on yields in order to favor the material and sanitary living conditions of farmers, and the sustainability of our agroecosystems.
For the agricultural engineer in training that I am, it was the concretization of a long-standing desire, and an incredible opportunity to train, far from France, in agriculture under a tropical climate. An aspect for which French schools do not prepare us very well.
At that time, in 2020, while we were still in the midst of the COVID19 and the monotony of e-learning was gradually setting in, this discovery gave me a renewed sense of motivation. I rediscovered the reason why I started my studies: to work in the field, in direct contact with producers in an agroecological approach. The desire to discover Southeast Asia and to work there took over.
Finally, in June 2022, I arrived on site. I met the team that warmly welcomed me, Marie my predecessor who gave me a lot during the month we spent together, and of course our Farmers, eleven moms from Bayon who want to make things happen in their country.
What I still can’t get over is that, at only 22 years old, nothing predicted that I would cross paths with these eleven women. They were an extraordinary and wonderful meeting and they impressed me with their positivism and their uncommon capacity for resilience. Living this experience allows you to put your own situation into perspective. They are all incredibly generous and willing to share a part of their culture and their lives. Even though we don’t speak the same language, they always made me feel comfortable with them, and we had some great moments where we were able to communicate even without words.
Living and working abroad necessarily brings its share of difficulties: you have to adapt to different work habits or know how to bounce back from unexpected situations. Expatriation has its ups and downs, but you always have to put yourself in the context of the country that welcomes you. While working in Cambodia, I felt it was important that decisions be made by and in the interest of the Khmer people. So we worked hand in hand to bring this project to a successful conclusion.
I can only conclude with an invitation: if you have the chance, visit Cambodia and take the time to stop at Angkor Wat, to go through the countryside and the infinite rice fields of which one never gets tired, to talk with the people who have so much to tell, and why not at the Coffee Shop of the Bayon for a well-deserved brunch? It is a country that I loved, and that definitely changed me, full of surprises and magnificent landscapes, where everything is easy.
Above all, I discovered a philosophy of life far from our busy lives in France, which I hope to keep for a long time: a problem always finds a solution, often much easier and different from the one we would have imagined. »
Written by Camille Gaume.