Sunday, June 7, 2009
under the sun, and in the rain. /12:14 AM

wells, I figured I've dragged on long enough. So here goes some thoughts very much belated...

"I am thankful for the chance to be able to meet with some of the most awesome people around: the strong-willed children, the laidback villagers, and the VERY helpful souls too.

Thanks Cambodia for the great food.

great kids who knew no limits, and I hope they never do.
Their ability to absorb and learn with such earnesty I wish my nephews and nieces had just one-tenth of it; and when it's time to play, their enthusiasm to want to play with us was rather comforting for me because it sort of meant that they accepted and welcomed us to their humble village. The kids are great, and I still miss them. I miss walking out of the dormitory and seeing their smiles and hearing their cheerful morning greetings.

their innocent smiles.
their ways of making me laugh.


and that twinkle in those eyes.




I wonder if it is because the villagers and kids are accustomed to the simple life, not having seen how everything could be any better, or if it is us who are too immersed in our convenient ways to understand how they could do without them. Either way, thank you...for showing me qualities in the people of Cambodia that I truly hope I would never forget."

\\we live only once.

laugh lots,
miJuan.


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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
15days in cambodia /3:25 PM

to me, the children in cambodia left me the deepest memory
they were fun
they were cute
they were little angels
but sometimes they were also little devils
(esp using froggies and snakes to scare us)

i would say the children in the village are very close to the natural environment.
jumping into the muddy water without any hesitation
playing with all sorts of animals, alive or dead, treating them like real toys
to me, these actions are just absurd and dangerous and scary, but to them its all part of their daily lives
not to forget the joy they show in taking photographs
the fun these children can derive from seemingly "absurd activities" is simply amazing as i cannot even imagine myself doing it at all.

needless to say, children in the orphanage were also lovely
i simply love playing games with the children. especially table tennis
it was like the best form of interaction i had with the children
those times were really fun and enjoyable

even though their living conditions are not as good as compared to Singapore
even though they are constantly surrounded by countless of houseflies, mosquitos and frogs
even though they have sad stories behind them...
but i feel that the most fortunate thing for them is the existence of the orphanage
the orphanage gives me the feeling of a big family
where everyone will look out for each other like brothers and sisters
most importantly they are very welcoming to new family members
i still remember the look on the manager's face and the joy he showed when he announced that they had successfully rescued more children to join the orphanage.
to me, it was a really touching scene.
thank you to all the children for leaving me such beautiful memories
and thank you to everyone for making all these possible

loves, liting



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Saturday, May 30, 2009
Starlight /10:10 PM

Project Prey Veng

Was enriching. On the way from the airport to Prey Veng, we encountered these street-paddlers who knocked on the windows of our vehicle as we tried to get across some river. When the door opened and the bus uncle alighted to get the tickets, I thought it would be a mad rush for them to board our bus to sell us what they had to offer - crickets, baguettes, sunnies, berries, etc, but they would just knock on the windows. Rejection and indifference from the passengers seemed to be routine. I wondered how much they earned from selling what little they had to offer. Was it enough for sustenance? Are they considered businessmen, in Cambodia's context?

Was adventurous. From our first sugarcane which cost 1000 riels (USD0.25) a packet, to yummy banana fritters which became our daily snack (and for the fibre-seeking people (: ), to Cambodian chendol (bought this in the village! SUPER YUMMY), to green soyabean milk to... the list goes on! The mountain of charcoal pills each of us brought fortunately was not needed! Where else can we get such delicacies at such prices in Singapore?
Was thought-provoking. Living in a community - where instead of your family you have friends, buddies and pals. They sleep in the same dormitory, use the same cubicles, brush teeth together at the sink, play the same games every afternoon, use the same rackets and pingpong balls and shuttlecocks which have that little feather left and they learn how to appreciate each other. One moment they were fighting, the next moment they were posing for pictures together. Singaporeans do the same, except our "moments" last for days, whereas theirs last for minutes, maybe even seconds. :)
Was full of surprises. We (the girls) spotted a rainbow on the second day we were at Hope Village. The guys and the photographers were hard at work, drilling well in the village. Did they spot something this beautiful as well?

Was heartwrenching. Soap distribution brought us to a village where there were many children, poorly clothed and dressed, some of the younger boys even naked. Many of them ran about without shoes, and some of the huts seemed dilapidated. Were the kids getting educated? Do the kids have enough to eat? I think I know the answers, just by observing. But they were all curious little ones, following us everywhere we went. I think we looked weird to them. Or maybe they were just thankful for our presence.

Was a hygiene class in disguise. We were in the market one day and it happened that it had just rained moments ago. The flies, the rubbish dumps, the meat sellers... I think the entire Singapore deserves an A+++++ for hygiene. Thereafter I subconsciously refused to eat meat during meals.
Was about communicating. With our own project mates, with the kids at Hope Village. It was also about immersing in their culture, the one dish meals, the hand games they played (which sounded like our ping pong chet in Singapore), the signs they do when they pose for pictures, the Khmer they spoke, the Khmer we learnt, the English we taught them (thinks Foggy! :D :D :D ). I learnt a lot about communicating.
Was laid-back, and beautiful in every sense. My first trip to a rural area, and finally understanding that "rural" on books isn't quite like "rural" when you experience it for yourself. The cows, pigs, (humongous) lizards, spiders, snakes, evil mosquitoes and sandflies. This is the real rural. We didn't manage to catch the sunrise, but the sunset caught while sitting on the swing was gorgeous. (:

Was wonder-ful. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom... The many pictures taken, the memories we had together. The long tables at meals which fitted all 23 of us, the taking care of each other, the htht sessions, the sharing and reflection sessions, the pity when the first well didn't pump out clean water, the heartache felt when the guys had to go back for well-drilling for the 3rd day, the sharing of food brought over from Singapore, the bus rides, the taking of unglamourous sleeping shots, the indian poker, the hotel rooms, the bananas, the constant use of Dodgeeee and Fog-geeeey, the Heal the World, the English Lessons, the asking of "Have you ****ted today?", the frogs, the washing of clothes, the children at Hope Village, the R&R, the baguette, the coconut icecream, the markets and bargaining. Only at Project Prey Veng. (:
(This is anti-climax, but I love my buddies! :D Jagabee party YAY. )

Love,
Kailee/Kailan/Pokerface

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A simple life... /10:07 PM


Leaving Cambodia was a bittersweet moment. Where can you find such cheap and delicious food back here in Singapore? Where can you meet such friendly and simple people? Where can you lead a life without having to worry? I was deeply moved after observing the lives of Cambodian. Why do I say so? I'm amazed at how simple their life is yet they have no complaints, unlike typical Singaporeans where we complain at the slightest thing. We may be so much more educated but I believe they have taught us a lesson - simplicity is a beauty - which can never be taught in the classroom. Many people are selfish where they only care about themselves, we want everything in the world but they never ask themselves if they even deserve them. I think every Singaporean should go to countries such as Cambodia and engage themselves in voluntary work. Only then will they realise that they are possibly the most fortunate people in the world and not to take things for granted.

I must say I really enjoyed the 3 days spent at the village where we were drilling the well with the 'superb' machine. Despite all the breakdowns, no doubt it was an eye-opening experience. The village children were so hyperactive that they wore us out before they even got tired. Seeing themselves for the first time maybe, they were so eager to take photos with any of us and you just couldn't turn them down. The villagers were extremely helpful! I felt bad at times because even though it was supposed to be our work, but they were helping us with it. If it was in Singapore, you'll just be doing your work alone where most hardly offer their help. I was disappointed since we didn't exactly get to complete our well due to the unexpected delays. That day was just filled with new surprises with the highlight being stranded with our lorry that broke down. Being exhausted and sleepy, we just felt energised again since it was definitely not something you get to experience everyday. Reaching back to Hope Village Prey Veng, I was rather surprised to see the girls still waiting for us as it was already close to midnight but they decided to wait for us. If we are the backstage workers, they must be the crew working their asses off in front.

I must say the girls performed very well during the trip and it was a great experience working with them. I miss the times filled with laughter, sweat, joy, and also 'fear'. If I had the chance to go back, I will definitely go back and pick up from where I left. There's just so much to say but I believe these words can't fully express how I really felt. I want to thank everybody for making this trip possible and also completing successfully.

~Melvin Eng

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Typical Singaporean vs. Cambodian /2:42 AM

It has been more than a week since we left Cambodia
But the memories of the trip are still fresh on my mind.

No doubt, this trip has been memorable and enriching for me.

Me with an aim to introduce a new aspect to this blog, came up with this:

A comparison between a typical Singaporean child and any Cambodian child from the orphanage.

During English lessons....

Singaporean: zzzzzzzz.........
Cambodian: furiously taking down notes and participating in the class as much as possible

When taking photos.....

Singaporean: HUH!! why must i take photo!!
Cambodian: Pose! Rush to the camera to take a look at the photo. And this will be followed by a contented smile. And then they will shout: "One more! One more!"

After having their meals..

Singaporean: Return to their computers or TVs and expect their parents or maids to wash the dishes for them
Cambodian: Walk to the sinks and wash their own dishes.

When asked to do something, like putting back the broom for example.

Singaporean: Pretend to not hear anything
Cambodian: Ok and do it without complaints

When i asked them do they have spare table tennis rackets

Singaporean: Hmm...you don't have ah? I don't know eh.
Cambodian: You wait. And then run off to search their treasure box for racket and ask the in-charge of the orphanage for ping pong balls

This is definitely not a post to put down Singaporean children
I grew up like that and am guilty of the above as well

Food for thought: Does having more make you something less?

In short, Cambodia is a place which i will never go to if not for this trip.
Before which, what everyone knows about Cambodia is probably AngKor Wat and that it is a Third World Country.

I am glad that i joined Project Prey Veng.
Apart from the lessons learnt from them, it helped me gain a deeper understanding of a country, in terms of her culture, history and language.
And most importantly, it makes me reflect on how i have always take things for granted.

I am not sure if we had made a difference to them, but i can say for sure, the people there have indeed created a difference in my life.





Signing off,

Meixin

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
to learn or to serve? /10:17 PM

The trip to Cambodia has definitely left a lasting impact on me, and I’ve realized how lucky I am to be in Singapore.

The first incident that occurred happened on the third day of well drilling. On that day, we were told that we had to drill another well, as the one we’d drilled previously failed. All of us exclaimed in disbelief, as we can’t imagine going through the entire process of well drilling again. Just when we were all lamenting about how late we were going to return to Hope Village, one of the villagers came to us and shook our hands. He was saying something to us, but we did not understand whatever that he said. However, from the look in his eyes, I can see that he was very thankful and grateful to us. We’ve later found out that this man had to travel a few hundred meters everyday, just to carry two buckets of water from another well in the village. He was an old man, and yet he had to undergo such a laborious journey everyday, which most of us couldn’t even complete.

This was when I felt blessed for the first time. We in Singapore only have to walk a few steps, turn the knob of a tap, and fresh water would be flowing before us. This was definitely a great contrast as compared to the villagers in Cambodia.

The second incident was not an incident per se. It was basically the entire length of stay in Hope Village with the orphans that made me feel that I am lucky as compared to them in ways more than one. The orphans had lost both of their parents at a young age. However, each and every one of them is in fact very strong. They’ve seemed to accept the fact that their parents are not around anymore, and that they should make the best of whatever they have in the present. I have never seen an unhappy face on any orphan in Hope Village. All of them are genuinely happy, even though they are living in poverty.

Singaporeans aren’t easily contented, and I would say only a few Singaporeans are truly happy. Why is it that these orphans, who’ve lost their parents and living in poverty, are seemingly happier that us, who seem to have it all? We should be contented and appreciative of what that we have, and not derive happiness from materialistic gains.

On the pretext, OCIP seemed to be a program for me to render my service to the foreign community. But in fact, I have learnt much more from the orphans and villagers that what I’ve given them. The 15 days I’ve spent in Cambodia was indeed time well spent.

~Bing Hong

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Torment or Experience ? /12:51 PM

The ten days spent at Hope Village were more than just a random school trip, but an eye-opener for me. It was also a lifelong learning experience for me to adapt to the living conditions and lifestyle, as well as pace of this third world country.

Having not gone to a third world country before, this trip enriched me with how bad poverty could be. But at the same time, the people there are seemed happier than those living in the city. The children in Hope village, despite not having the luxury to play with portable game sets or to watch TV, are certainly happier than we do. They do not have to face the stressful lifestyle that we have, nor do they have to compete for grades. What they have is the luxury of time, that an afternoon of just table tennis or soccer will be enough to make their day.

Before arrival at Hope Village, I thought that the orphans will be rather pessimistic with life and are filled with negative mindsets. It was totally different to see how most of them strive to work hard in school and in their favourite sport – soccer. Through the teaching sessions that we had with them, we realised that some of the students do have some capabilities in studying, but lacked the opportunity. This is where we could actually learn to cherish our opportunity to study.


On the other hand, the children at the village where the welling was done were far more fascinated by the cameras we brought along. Perhaps, they have not seen their own faces before. They were not even properly clothed and more often than not, they walked around bare-footed. Their houses had holes in them, that it is only good for shelter when it is in the sun. While schooling is free in Cambodia, these children may not get the permission from their parents, just for the simple fact that the parents want them to work instead. When there is rain, the children would just jump into the muddy pool, just like a swimming pool. How many parents in Singapore will actually allow that? I wondered about whether that kind of restriction is the protection that our parents give us, apart from a proper shelter at home which those villagers do not have. It really saddens to see that the villagers and the children stood by the well drilling place when we started in the morning till when we ended in the evening. It seems as though it was really important to them, or if not, they really had nothing to do.

We had to adapt to the living environments in the Hope Village. I did not have any expectations to begin with, as I feared disappointment and so I decided to just go and experience. The one soup dish, the pool of water for bathing which had crickets swimming in it, the muddy ground, the mosquito bites, the dusty roads, the humid dormitory with different kinds of insects and the wet clothes which never dries, are all part of the non-exhaustive list of what I was trying to adapt. There was no such thing as pampering there, as all have and ought to be done by me. From washing clothes to hanging clothes, from taking your own food to washing your own plates, from taking care of yourself to taking care of others, there were no maids to serve you anymore.
Furthermore, with the absence of all those electronic gadgets that we possessed, we learnt to be occupied with things apart from those. There were no anti-social device used, instead, we opened up to one another and had many heart to heart talks during the night time. This is where we bonded closer as a team. When one by one fell ill during this trip, when one of us fell down in the toilet and the blood steamed like a river, and when we screamed for help whenever there are cockroaches or frogs jumping around, a helping hand is always near to heart.


All the activities went quite smoothly except on the fourth day, when the guys went back to the drilling ground for the third consecutive day. As these guys knew that they had to make a second well near the first one they made, and the fact that they would not be going back again, this motivated them to finish as much as they could for the villages. Thus, they finished till late night. But little did they know that the truck will break down, and that they were then trapped at the “one-moon” hotel. These guys have not eaten for nearly 12 hours and water was running out. I do not know how they were feeling then, but when we got there to help, they were really exhausted and hungry. This setback did not put them down, but instead gave us an opportunity to look at the beautiful stars in the darkest sky. The helpers from the Hope Village were more than just being determined, there was no complaints at all from these people.

While Singaporeans emphasized on the importance of hygiene here, to the Cambodians, it was never a point of concern to them. The chickens in the marketplace were covered with flies that they became a black chicken instead.
While Singaporeans emphasized on the importance of cleanliness that everything has to be sparkling white, to the Cambodians, it was the price that determines. The marketplace was so pitch-dark that you will never know what is clean and what is dirty.
While Singaporeans emphasized on the importance of a balanced diet, to the Cambodians, a meal was just to make them be able to work. There was no proteins to talk about, carbohydrates and fibres are more than sufficient; vitamins are just a bonus.
While Singaporeans emphasized on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but still go on to drink drank drunk, and continue to smoke their money away, as well as slog their life into the nightlife, to the Cambodians, they worked from dawn to dusk, just for a living. The true healthy lifestyle has to include workouts from the work you do and having sufficient sleep and rest.


To sum up, this trip gave me a complete different perspective to view things. There are always two side of a coin, and perhaps, both have their good points. Learning to cherish may be better than learning to give up. Team spirit plays in every single part of this trip from preparation to execution. It is easier to see how unfortunate others might be, but it is better to see how fortunate we are. It is good to go with an open mind and come back with an enriched mind.

Signing off,

Shi Wen


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About the Team
SMU - Project Prey Veng 2009

Leader - Peter Ng
Co-Leader - Amanda Leong

Participants:
Aileen
√ Bing Hong
Chuen Long
Cynthia
Jason
Jia Qi
√ Kai Lee
Khang Wei
Larissa
Liane
√ Li Ting
√ Mei Xin
√ Melvin Eng
Melvin Teo
Mi Juan
Nomis
Samantha
Sherman
√ Shi Wen
Wan Yi
Yuann Shan

Embarked on a Cambodia trip from 6 May to 20 May 2009

Worked with Operation Hope Foundation

Supported by Youth Expedition Project (YEP)

Itinerary

Visited Hope Village at Prey Veng to :
Make and package soap
Teach childrens English and Art and craft
Paint the walls of the chapel
Have fun with them

Went to villages in rural areas to :
Dig well
Distribute soap