An excerpt from Culinary Training Center Chef Ryana DeArmond in Cambodia:
One afternoon in between lunch and dinner the CTC girls are all huddled up, deep in discussion. Then one leaves the huddle and goes outside for a minute. She returns to inform the group, “It works.” Another leaves the group and goes upstairs, comes back and reports the same thing. By this point they have figured out I am watching.
“Chef, how much does the Wi-Fi cost?”
Our Internet for the restaurant costs the same amount that some of them make a month. Knowing this, I don’t want to tell them. I defer by asking “Why?”
“We want to have Wi-Fi at our home.” It is rare for Cambodians to have Internet in their homes. There are tons of Internet cafes where you pay $0.25 an hour. “We saw a sign we can get unlimited Internet for $12 a month.”
My first thought was great, then you won’t need to be on the Internet at work. Then it hit me, how much their lives have changed since I met them 2 years ago. They have gone from taking their weekly stipends to buy rice for the family or pay for their younger brother to go to school, to now having a sort of income that internet is a consideration.
“Why were you all going outside and upstairs?” I ask.
“We wanted to see how far away we can be and the Wi-Fi still work.”
They continue to say they think two of them could share since their homes are so close together. Then the light bulb turns on. One student explains they can charge other people in the area to used their Wi-Fi. If they can find 6 people to pay $2 then they get Internet for free. The other girls start naming people they can ask to be in their Wi-Fi club.
I have no idea if they will follow through with this plan, yet this displays they have been empowered to have ideas, dreams, and goals.
Once that is unleashed the possibilities are endless of where they can go and what they can do.
By Ryana DeArmond
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