by Sonia S. Dickson
I lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for three months this spring working with the Cambodian Children’s Fund teaching yoga to kids, employees, and “grannies”. It was one of the best experiences of my life!
For the last two years I have worked to receive two yoga certifications: a 200-hour and a 300-hour teacher training with YogaWorks in New York City and in Santa Monica, CA. For the last 3 years I have been following the good work of the Cambodian Children’s Fund and in early January 2016 I flew to Phnom Penh, where CCF is based, to help create a sustainable yoga program.
CCF was founded in 2004 by Scott Neeson, formally the President of Fox International. CCF currently supports 2,500 children and families in this poor community. I was very inspired by Scott Neeson and had a desire to move there and volunteer. My personal mission became to share the healing work of yoga with underserved and vulnerable communities.
During my second visit, I taught an average of 15 yoga classes a week to kids of ages 5-21, to the staff who worked at CCF, and to a group of lively “grannies” which included a 93-year-young lady. The kids were natural yogis, diving into difficult yoga poses on the first try. They seemed to really enjoy every class. We grew close during my stay in Phnom Penh.
My journey to Asia also included a few side trips to Thailand, Hong Kong, and Bali, which gave me further opportunities to experience the culture and appreciate the allure. I also traveled to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, where I visited many of the temples that are scattered over the extensive site of Angkor — a truly exceptional and spiritual place!
After three months, I left CCF in the good hands of fellow yogis. I miss and love the kids very much. I am determined to remain connected to CCF and help to the extent that I can.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to volunteer and live abroad. It has been a life-changing experience. I came back with a better appreciation for the love and comfort I receive from my own family and friends, for the freedom and opportunities we have living in the USA, and for my good health and general well being.
I learned that we are never too old to try something new; that we never know what can happen if we just give someone a chance; and that sometimes the best we can do is simply try.