Creative Writing Through Cambodia Workshop – Risk taking

By Emily Martin

A group of Phare artists and youth from Anjali House in Siem Reap recently came together to take part in a creative writing workshop.

Writing Through Cambodia is a project which was founded by author, Sue Guiney, to help improve the education and self-esteem of students in Cambodia. She started it after a volunteering trip to Cambodia when she was inspired to write a book about the positive and negative experiences she had. After the publication of ‘A Clash of Innocents’ she started the writing workshop as a way of giving back to the people and country she had grown to love.

The specific goals of Writing Through Cambodia are:

  • To improve fluency in English, both speaking and writing
  • To develop capacity for conceptual thought
  • To enhance individual self-esteem and the belief that one’s thoughts and feelings have value and are worth expressing

The work you will find below is just a small selection of the work written in a special collaborative Writing Through Cambodia workshop with members of Phare, The Cambodian Circus and students from the educational shelter, Anjali House.

Sue Guiney, the founder, had a specific theme for this workshop. “Every day for a week we came together to talk about, and write about, in English, the idea of Taking Risks. We all take risks at one time or another. Some jump rope with fire. Others dare to sit around a table with people older than themselves and reveal their thoughts. For many, just asking the question, ‘Do I take this risk or not?’ is a big risk in itself. But to try to write all of this in poems and stories, and in English, was, indeed, a risk for them all.”

“It was my privilege to be able to facilitate the creation of these works of art. It is my privilege now to introduce these creations to you.”

A Way to Live

By Phounam, Circus Artist  (age 23)

Every day in my life is an adventure.

You have choices, darkness or bright.

Love the way you are.

Be grateful.        Life is short.

Take a journey and be responsible.

Maybe it’s hard.          Maybe it’s fun.

Go as far as you wish.

You might fail, but don’t be blind.

Create your own light.

Loves and hates are always together.

Don’t miss your chances.

Explore your love and be honest.

Sometimes it is lonely and stressful.

Try and try again.

Find for yourself a good way to peace and freedom.

Keep your fame, inspiring people.

You will die. They will cry

Please enjoy every moment in life.

Respect and hope.

Should I Have a Risk?

By Srey Roat, Anjali House (age 16)

On the way is so important.

Think first before you do.

Think of the good way and the bad way,

but try your best to choose it.

Should I have a risk?

No, I don’t like it

because it can make me have an accident or be safe.

But if I have a risk, I will make it beautiful and be responsible for it.

The Lesson of Life

By Panha, Anjali House (age 18)

Life is chances

Sometimes success, sometimes failure

Happy with success, sad with failure

Sometimes you’re nervous to say it out loud

But you are brave to do it.

Life is effort

Be happy with failure, and think you can do it

Life is not failure

But it’s the success in the future

The failure is the lessons of the life

It teaches you to be a brave person

Also it is the way to make success

Believe Yourself

(A group story)

            Cambodia is a developing country. Two years ago, there was a group of five young people from Battambang Province, close to the Thai border, who had a chance, for the first time, to visit a zoo outside of Cambodia. They were all boys and they were 21 years old. They were all strong and good singers, but they each had their own personal skills. They wanted to see the animals, especially a bird called Kaka who was a fortuneteller. Among the five boys was one who can speak with birds. That was his special skill. His name was Vithou. He was tall and fat, but had a beautiful smile.

            It was a shiny day. Suddenly, they met a little girl who lost her way home. Vithou asked her, “Why are you crying?” and she said, “I cannot find my way home.” Vithou said, “How can I help you?” “Find my mother,” said Chantou. So, Vithou and Chantou walked through the zoo together. Suddenly, Kaka called out, “Don’t trust the boy! He can hurt you!”

            Chantou started to think, “Can I trust him? What should I do now?” Vithou wondered, “Can Chantou understand the bird?” and asked her, “What did the bird say?” Chantou said, “He told me not to trust you.” Vithou said, “I am not a bad person. Believe me”. But Chantou knew that the bird was a fortuneteller so she believed the bird and not the boy and started to run away from Vithou. Vithou found his friends and together they found Chantou’s mother, but they cannot find Chantou. She has gone to a dangerous place.

            When they find her, the mother sees Kaka and remembers a time when she was a little girl and the bird lied to her. So the mother chased the bird away and said to her daughter, “Vithou is a good person. Trust yourself and not the fortune teller.”


We are lucky enough to be part of many different workshops in different capacities. Recently our older circus artists learnt about the dance style of STREB Dance Company.