Our Second Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival in Siem Reap
Last Sunday, June 17th, was a day full of incrEDIBLE food, live music, sunshine and community collaboration… All in support of Free To Shine! It was our second Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival fundraiser in Siem Reap and it was a wonderful day all around.Despite a stormy weather forecast, the sun miraculously came out just minutes before the event and kept shining on us all day long!
The festival was held at AngkorHUB, a co-working space in Siem Reap with a beautiful outdoor garden in the center of town. Just minutes after noon when the event started, the place was already packed full of vendors and hungry guests.The event featured 11 local restaurants, cafes and farms selling delicious vegan and vegetarian tapas and other small plates. Vendors included: Moringa Bar, Haven Restaurant, OrganiKH Farm, Bayon Pastry School, Asian Street Food Cambodia, POU, Atmosphere, La Pasta, Green-Go Garden, and Mahob Buos.
Three of the restaurants (Haven, Bayon Pastry School and Mahob Buos) are social enterprises, providing vocational training and other forms of support to Cambodian youth. We were so happy to build our relationships with these organisations and support each other.It was great to have such a variety of cuisines among the participating vendors: Indian, Mexican, Italian, Swiss, Vietnamese, French, Middle Eastern, Asian Fusion and of course, some traditional Khmer staples! The dishes were diverse, local, fresh and all creatively adapted for veggie lovers!
Moringa Bar served up an amazing selection of refreshing drinks and cocktails, including a signature “Shine Punch” inspired by Free To Shine! They also served sought-after local craft beers from Outlaw Brewing.189 people attended the event throughout the day, not including the Free To Shine team and the many vendors in attendance!
This year, we were so excited to have some young Cambodian students volunteer their time to play live music at the event! The first performance was from an all-girl band led by Mara, one of the inspiring girls featured in Free To Shine’s recent Future Goals documentary. The second was a group of boys in secondary school. Both bands were extremely talented and helped make the atmosphere at the event so lively and fun! Sreymom, the Free To Shine Program Officer, even got up to sing a song for everyone!
Towards the end of the day, Sayorn, one of the Free To Shine's Education Officers who volunteered at the event, gave an inspiring talk about what it means to be a member of the Free To Shine team and how she relates to the girls on the program that she mentors and supports.
We then called out the winners of the raffle and handed out prizes generously donated by restaurants, spas and yoga places in town. The grand prizes this year were stays at OrganiKH Farm’s Eco Bungalow with all meals included!
Even though the food was nearly sold out by 4pm when the event ended, the celebrations didn’t stop there - Moringa Bar hosted an after party in support of Free To Shine at their restaurant with a percentage of the evening’s sales going directly to Free To Shine’s programs!Thanks to the generosity of all the participating vendors and attendees, we were able to raise enough money to purchase 11 bicycles for girls on our program going into high school. These girls live between 7 and 12 km from their local high school, had broken bikes that were beyond repair and were relying of friends for rides to and from school. Sometimes there were forced to walk long distances to school, which made us concerned for their safety. This placed them at a high risk of missing school or dropping out completely. With these new bikes they will have renewed independence and autonomy and be more likely to stay in school through grade 12.
On behalf of everyone at Free To Shine and the 600+ girls and families we currently support, THANK YOU for supporting our work and making this event such a success!