HopHost since 26 March 2017
Ten years ago, Anna and Valentin Pawlik fell in love with the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong Province, located in the Southwest of Cambodia, about 30km away from the Thaï border. Valentin was then working for a cruise company, and noticed people’s enthusiasm for spending a night above the water. A few years later, they had this crazy idea of building a lodge over the river.
One of the first challenges they set was to be as close as possible to the nature without causing it any harm. And after 8 months of construction, this unique concept was born. It is made of sustainable construction materials, using renewable energies and minimizing waste.
But more than a simple resort, what Anna and Valentin have created is a life changing enterprise for the Koh Kong region. They are leading a lot of community projects, some of them along with other actors in the region, aiming at both improving local people’s quality of life and protecting the fauna and flora of the region. Most of them are conducted with and towards children because they are the ones who have the power to change the future. The first project implemented was the Tatai River Clean-up, which consists, once a year, of collecting the rubbish floating on the Tatai River with the children of the surrounding schools, and exchanging about the important of protecting the environment, waste management etc.
The current projects are all about supporting local schools, from building a rain catchment system, a library or toilets, providing school supplies, setting electricity connection… The most recent one is “Build the Koh Kong Khnong School” project. The school, located near the city of Koh Kong, is composed of two classrooms, made of wood, in a dilapidated condition, with holes on the roof, which makes it extremely difficult for children to stay dry while in the classrooms during the rainy season. The goal of the project is to raise money to create new and sustainable infrastructure for the school.
About half of the 4 Rivers team comes from the nearby surroundings. Some of the staff used to practice illegal logging and poaching for a living, and they have now a regular job that allows them to earn a stable income without killing the forest and its biodiversity. They are now the first ambassadors of 4 Rivers environmental values, and are great assets for the lodge as they know a lot about the forest and species and are able to share their knowledge with the guests.
Some others are recent graduates from PSE (Pour un Sourire d’Enfant) School, a NGO that helps children escape from destitution and lead them to decent and skilled jobs.
The guests are also invited to take part in 4 Rivers environmental approach. The organised tours are the opportunity for them to meet the locals and learn more about wildlife in the region.
“Let’s save the forest, let’s save the environment, let’s save Cambodia!” Anna Pawlik, owner and general manager