If you’re going to be travelling through Cambodia then why not get off the typical tourist trail and head to Kratie, a small town situated next to the mighty Mekong river. As well as being home to one of the world’s last remaining populations of Irrawaddy River Dolphin, visitors to Kratie can enjoy its laid back charm, relaxed rural atmosphere and get to know some of the incredibly friendly locals here.

Kratie is also home to CRDTours and Le Tonle Restaurant and Training Centre, both operated by the wonderful Cambodian Rural Development Team who work to reduce poverty and conserve the environment particularly in the North East of the country.

You can find out more about CRDT and CRDTours in an earlier post. This article is all about Le Tonle and how it is helping to change lives.

Le Tonlé Tourism Training Center is a not-for-profit training guest house providing vocational training to disadvantaged youth from Cambodia’s north-eastern provinces of Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri.

Established in 2007 in Steung Treng, a new training centre opened in Kratie in 2013 equipped with practical facilities including a training kitchen, classroom, a welcoming ground floor restaurant and a four bedroom traditional wooden stilt guesthouse.

There are currently 18 students at Le Tonle enrolled in the two year training course. The course is an amazing opportunity for disadvantaged youth in Cambodia and allows them to build a better life for them and their family.

Champa’s Story

“My name is Champa. I am 18 years old. I was born in the Kralapheas village, in Stung Treng. There are six us of—I have three brothers and three sisters. My father’s name is Vann, my mother’s Sean. They are rice farmers. I stopped learning fifteen years ago, was in 9th grade. My family did not have enough money for me to continue, to support me. My home is far from our school—we had to pay a lot for me to get there. However, I liked learning, when I did. My favorite subjects were social studies. After I left school, I decided to help my family’s work. I was work in the fields with my parents. Then I was depressed. I worked with my mother, sowing rice in the fields. We were out one day and it started to rain—the sky just opened. We couldn’t work. We went in, instead, and we listened to the radio. There was an advertisement on, about Le Tonle, about this school. I was excited. I thought I could finally learn what I needed and wanted. I registered, and waited a month. Then they called me and told me I’d passed.

Being a trainee, I thought that there were a lot of skills it offered: general English, housekeeping, cooking, front office, and computers. I loved to learn these skills. My favorite subjects have been English, computers, and front office. I love our teachers, here. They take so much time to help us with these skills. I can speak English, and use computers and can make a lot of Khmer food—amok, for instance. I am braver than I was before; I’m more willing to do and say things. I believe myself more capable of learning. Le Tonlé has given me the chance to acquire new knowledge and skills for my future career. I see a different way of life while living at Le Tonlé.

My family and I were very happy that the center selected me to be one of the staff members. During, working here not only provides me a fairly good income to support my family, but also teaches me more about tourism business which can help me to set up my own business in the future. I really very appreciated what I have done from Le Tonlé. What am I doing now? Now, I’m proud to tell my friends about my waitress job and about my new skills. Last but not least, I would like to thank Le Tonlé center and Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT) for helping me and my friends to change our lives for the better. I am committed to working hard in order to develop my skills and I hope I can in turn contribute to social development projects in the future.”

The Le Tonle guest house and restaurant provides vital vocational training and a unique opportunity for travellers to support human resource development in Cambodia. So if you’re visiting Kratie why not stay and eat at Le Tonle and help support this wonderful project.