PERSONAL STORY 2
This is a personal story about a man from Cambodia. He lives in Siem Reap, a big city in Cambodia. We asked him questions about his personal life and the differences before and after the corona virus. We also asked him how the corona virus affected his job.
K is a man from Cambodia. Because one of our classmates went to Cambodia and has much contacts with people over there, we could come in contact with him. We're very glad we can come in contact with him to learn more about the facts in Cambodia. We can't go to Cambodia ourselves, so we have to ask him several questions to get a picture in our head how it's going in Cambodia during the pandemic.
K lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He has his own company. At this moment, due to the corona crisis, his company has to be closed. He has his own gym. Kingdom Fight Gym, KLAHAN en KFG Travels are the names of his companies. How does the corona virus have an impact of K his life? Normally, he works in his gym and he coaches and trains people. At the moment, this won't be able. He can't coach the people because there has to be distance between all of the people in the world, not only in the Netherlands, also in Cambodia. He has been thinking about life due to the corona crisis. He daily reflects on business and personal level.
The biggest difference before and during the pandemic has to do with tourism. We agree that this is not only in order in Cambodia, but it's a problem all over the world. He says that Siem Reap is very dependent on tourism. Before COVID-19, there were very much tourists in Cambodia, but at the moment it's very quiet in the country. Many entrepreneurs, restaurants, cafes, freelance guides fall over one by one. Hotels are closed and people are put on the street without a social safety net (as in the Netherlands). Fortunately, there are also companies that continue to pay employees, it's less, but he's still happy with that. On the picture you can see a street which is very quiet. No tourists, no employees, just nobody. Since last month, the tourist numbers have dropped precipitously. Cambodia's biggest tourist attraction, the temples of Angkor, lure millions of visitors every year. At the moment, nobody will visit this place of interest. Also shops, restaurants, hotels and backpackers hotels in Siem Reap have closed down, some temporarily, some permanently, sad enough. Restaurants are, just like in the Netherlands, offering take-away or delivery options to encourage self-isolation. On the picture below you see a street in Cambodia. It's totally empty. Without tourists, employees, just nobody.
The biggest worry is not their health during the crisis, but it is the economic impact it has on people. Tour guides with no one to guide, souvenir shops with no one to buy their t-shirts and handcrafts. Selling food at markets is very low. For example, a stock of fresh meat went from 90kg per day to only 50 kg. Also tuk tuk drivers are in crisis. They've been spending the whole day trying to find clients and end up with nothing at the end of the day but more worry about how they will feed their families.
What measures have been taken in Cambodia to prevent the spread of the virus? Borders are closed. So, people from other countries can't visit Cambodia. This has a huge impact of the tourism industry of Cambodia, like mentioned before. Also gyms are closed. This has an impact on the life of K. He hopes he can coach the people in Siem Reap very soon. And let's all hope it for him. K's opinion is that "it is the way it is". And we agree with him. He doesn't think we can change much about it. Unless it happens on a larger scale worldwide. He thinks that the economic impact and thereby also the social impact is much bigger because countries deal with it so extreme compared to the consequences of the virus itself. There are plenty of other diseases that could get attention, which also demands a huge number of victims every year. Malaria, HIV, famine, you name it, but that has no impact on the west, so it probably never had priority. And I think that's sad to hear.
He describes his life during the pandemic as following. Quiet, lots of time for myself, but also frightened because it is unprecedented. The future will always be a big question mark, but it is now much more extreme, the unknown. His day consists of eat, rest and sleep early. He thinks that's delicious actually. At the moment, the gym he owns, is partly opened. He sometimes coach people, but not so much like before the corona virus.
In Cambodia, the children have online class lessons. The schools won't be open for the rest of the year, just to prevent the spread of the virus. Another reason for this, is that they expect a second wave of the corona virus. Work during the pandemic in Cambodia is quiet but also very stressful. Financial stress. Particularly because together with his companies he also has a foundation in the Netherlands (Youth Matters) that support sports projects in Cambodia, including a full scholarship for a Khmer boy, who wants to become world champion kickboxing.
K expects growth in the future. Growth, with a larger gap between rich and poor. You see that especially in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. In conclusion, we hope that the future will be better for all of us. We also hope that all of us stay safe, all over the world. Together we can beat corona.