Spreading smiles – on a Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk Theatre visits rural Cambodian villages

Children in rural Cambodian villages start helping their parents in their farms from a very young age and rarely ever get to experience much of a childhood. Most of the efforts and funding in Cambodia are typically focused (and rightfully so) on education and health. And so a team of SC volunteers decided to pool their resources and launched Tuk Tuk Theatre. 

Most villages in rural Cambodia are quite remote, with a vast majority of them still lacking electrical power. Children growing up in these villages rarely ever venture out too far from their place of birth, much less travel to urban centers like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. A few may attend the local school and learn about the world outside of Cambodia, but the stark reality of their lives is that they will be unlikely to ever visit any of these places.

Edutainment – A different approach

A few months ago, a group of 7 SC volunteers decided to come together and pooled their resources to launch Tuk Tuk Theatre. A tuk tuk, that ubiquitous tri-wheeled Cambodian people carrier, was retrofitted with a TV and a sound system and then powered using a large car battery stored under the seat. The modifications to the tuk tuk allowed it to be a truly mobile theatre, capable of operating in remote locations even when there is no availability of a power source. And thus Tuk Tuk Theatre was born!

The goal of Tuk Tuk Theatre is simple – while it’s not possible to send all of these kids on excursions to far off places, it is certainly possible to bring the world to them through a television. By showing movies and nature documentaries, Tuk Tuk Theatre aim to expose kids to the wider world and allow them to dream of things that are bigger than what life currently provides. The hope is that it will one day motivate them to venture out beyond the confines of their village life and seek out these sights and experiences for themselves.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Since its launch 2 months ago, Tuk Tuk Theatre has visited kids in over a dozen villages and schools showing movies, cartoons and National Geographic documentaries. In late June, the TTT team decided to go on an 800 km road trip around the Tonle Sap lake. The 10 day long trip saw them stop for a showing of Richard Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” at a high school in Battambang, entertain the neighborhood kids in Siem Reap with a fun night of Disney’s “The Lion King”, watched Donald Duck chase Chip and Dale with the kids in the rural village of Okuru Kae, and joined over 50 kids in a friendly game of tug-of-water at an intra-school sport’s festival in Kampong Chang! Follow their journey through their regular blog posts at this link! 

Campaign trails

As with all ambitious endeavors, scaling up will requires the influx of fresh funds. The team has an ongoing crowd funding effort to raise funds to expand on their vision. Visit their campaign page and support them in their innovative effort to spread smiles among the children of Cambodia! Or you can also support them through their website and Facebook page! 


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