Khmer new year is the most important time of the year for all Cambodians.
Each mid-April the cities empty as the mass exodus to the countryside begins. Most Cambodians are born in small villages and relocate to the cities seeking better job opportunities.
Our students love nothing more than to paint their teacher's face with soot and talcum powder.
Families rejoice to be united in their homeland.
A favorite tradition is to sneak up on friends and neighbors and smear talcum powder all over their faces. Mustaches are drawn on with the soot from the bottom of woks and teapots.
Friendly road blocks are constructed throughout the village to stop people on motorbikes and bicycles so their faces can be doused with powder.
The reunion of families in their traditional homes is a joyous occasion celebrated with an abundance of home cooked food, home-distilled rice wine, outdoor games, and constant dancing.
Ranue, age 10 practices his skills at Boule (Pétanque).
People wander from house to house throughout the village to join impromptu dance parties.
Lauren on the way to the Buddhist temple.
In the evening, the local elementary school yard is transformed into a dance party where young and old come together after dark to show their stuff on the dusty dance floor.
The style of dancing switches drastically with each song from demure traditional sensual hand moves to something straight out of a techno dance club.
Pum Prey family portrait of family, friends, and volunteers.
Ducks are killed and rice is cooked in abundance then packed in metal stacking containers and transported to the local buddhist pagoda by motorbike.
Hundreds of people arrange themselves on both sides of a procession of saffron robe-clad monks. As they file past slowly, people reach forward to fill their metal pots with spoonfuls of rice and fill their square fabric bags with money.
Lauren speaks with student, Dina and her family at the local Buddhist temple.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL OF US IN PUM PREY VILLAGE!