By: John Kioko Masila, PhD

Posted: March 12, 2019
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Faculty Post

Art for Awareness in Cambodia


Upon coming to Cambodia, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my classmates and I would have the opportunity to interact with Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC) students at several points during the semester. In celebration of World Wildlife Day, we met with them twice at Fauna in Focus, a local NGO that promotes environmental awareness in Cambodia. Our goal was to help plan and create a large art piece in order to bring attention to the importance of plastic waste reduction and the conservation of marine species. With the help and design expertise from Kelsey, Fauna in Focus’s Exhibitions Coordinator, we voted on making a Southern River Terrapin Turtle out of plastic water bottles, since it’s both the national reptile of Cambodia and a critically endangered species due to illegal poaching.


Photo courtesy of Ella Dorval Hall


Large scale participation has its advantages when creating a massive art project. We were impressively efficient at painting. The PUC students and SFS students formed several assembly lines at each painting station. Some cut the wrappers off of the water bottles, some dipped the bottles in buckets of paint, and others set them out to dry.

Two weeks later, we came back to assemble the turtle in a field outside of Fauna in Focus. Using a color-coded design, we made a turtle so large that it was nearly impossible to tell what it was from the ground. Daniel Roper-Jones, Fauna in Focus’ project manager, filmed us with a drone during the entire process. The final result from the sky is in the drone video, which will be on the Fauna in Focus website very soon. We are hoping to get at least 100,000 views on Facebook, an achievable goal since Facebook is so popular among younger Cambodians. If you’re reading this, search for the video and share!



Maya screaming “Save the turtles!!”

→ Conservation and Development Studies in Cambodia

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