My name is Anna Bischoff and I am an intern at SALT Academy – since the beginning of February 2017. In my first week, I got a lot of opportunities to get to know SALT, the kids they are working with, and the town of Battambang where I am staying. On the third day of my stay I got to teach English to some ‘Mighty Girls’: 21 Mighty Girls stay together in a house and share their daily lives with each other. There is a great atmosphere in this house since they all share one passion: football. In my English lesson we had a lot of fun together, they even sang “Happy Birthday” for me since it was my birthday on that day – which was an awesome start to my internship. On top of that, they gave me little sweets and were very curious about where I am from and what I am doing. It felt great to come in such a warm and welcoming atmosphere as it is in the house of the Mighty Girls.
The fearless Mighty Girls
The following day I got to see a match between the Mighty Girls and a local boys team. From the start the girls wrecked the boys, which, to me, was a completely new scene. I remember my own football matches when all the boys watching us from the side laughed about us girls playing football. Here, in Battambang, I experienced the complete opposite. I sat with some of the older girls on the side and for them it seemed like a comedy show: how the girls beat the boys, seemingly without much effort. The girls easily sidestepped them, they dribbled and juggled the ball around them which made the boys seem disoriented and lost between all of these talented girls. The girls watching the game had a great time making fun of the boys and supporting their Mighty Girls. This was amazing to see, since girls in Cambodia are often not treated equally. Seeing this dominance of girls’ strengths showed me the great impact SALT already has achieved through their football based development work. Unfortunately, I must say that the boys got to turn the game in the second half but the girls still fought until the end and did their best.
The next week, I got the opportunity to see where the Mighty Girls come from and where they go back to on the weekends. SALT Academy started the initiative to not only support the girls but also support their families. All together we went on a big truck to drive into the communities where the girls’ families live. Going on this long journey was fun for all the girls. They took a break from their daily routine and went on a long ride together. There was a vibrant atmosphere since everybody was excited, making jokes, singing, laughing and taking lots of pictures together.
Due to the long distances we had to travel, we went to five families that day. It was really nice to see how thankful the families were about the simple present of some cooking ingredients. The girls thankfully and with a lot of respect received a blessing from the older family members and happily left behind their presents.
On the way back we stopped by the famous Banan temple. Due to time limitations we were not able to go up the hill to the temple but many girls came to me and proudly told me about their traditions and the temple.
I had a great start here at SALT Academy, I am blessed working in this team and to get the opportunity to dive into the world of development through sports.