More than 100 volunteers in the Kampong Phluk community in Siem Reap province worked together to create giant puppets for the June annual celebrations of the National and World Environment Day. This year’s two-day celebrations will be held under the theme of “Tonle Sap Lake Ecosystem Restoration”.

The World Environent Day falls on June 5.

Sea Sophal, director of NGO2 BambooShoot Foundation, told The Post on May 17 that more than 100 volunteers – including teachers, students and residents of the Kampong Phluk community – would gather on May 17 and 18 to create the puppets for the event.

Sophal said they met at the Kampong Phluk pagoda in Prasat Bakong district’s Kampong Phluk commune to prepare for the June 17-18 event.

He added that the event also coincides with the first “Cambodia’s Inland Ocean Festival”, a chance to pay respect to the vast Tonle Sap Lake, which provides a variety of benefits to the local people in both rainy and dry seasons.

“The festival is being held to celebrate environment day and to preserve original traditions, including the inauguration of a traditional almshouse,” he added.

Sophal explained that the design of the giant puppets reflects the biodiversity of the lake. Each one was selected to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the many creatures that call the Tonle Sap Lake home.

“Because it is a festival, we want to make it fun for all of the revellers. We will create 120 giant puppets of unique fish species and other examples of biodiversity and parade them one village to another in order to attract tourists,” he said.

Mam Pisey, a youth representative of the Kampong Phluk community, told The Post that she was excited to be involved in the preparations for the event, the first of its kind. She hoped the festival would attract a lot of visitors to her community.

“We have divided all of the volunteers into groups, each with a specific job to do, and then provide guidance. The festival will include plenty of other activities. Through our preparations, we are also learning a lot,” she said.

The Kampong Phluk community consists of about 1,000 households living in the villages of Tnot Kambot, Kork Kdol and Dey Krahorm. Most of the people in the communities live in floating houses and earn their living as fishermen.

The community is particularly attractive to tourists, who visit floating villages, take boat tours, observe the flooded forests and enjoy the beauty of the sunset on the Tonle Sap Lake.