I left a part of me behind …
It has been close to 2 months since my trip to Cambodia. Time flies; I have yet to do up a proper blog post about the overseas community service trip as I was waiting for the rest to pass me their pictures. Honestly, it’s hard for me to express the myriad of feelings and emotions with words. After much reflection, it just dawned upon me that there isn’t a need for me to write about the things that the team had done to prove what we did & our worth.
The trip was indeed extremely rewarding as it taught me ,once again, how to appreciate and be contented with the very little things in life that we often overlook and take for granted. Prior to the trip, I embarked on a self-discovery journey to find myself ( self-identity) and to seek for some directions in life. In retrospect, I’d say that the awe-inspiring albeit short experience had certainly played a small but significant role in allowing me to find out more about myself. A series of discovery: About how I portray myself to others under different circumstances, my working style with unfamiliar people, my capability to adapt to a culture and lifestyle that’s so vastly different from mine, the extent to which I’m able to give to others without asking for anything in return, etc. To quote Kelly Thompson, “the more you give of yourself to the people, the culture and the overall experience, the more you will try discover about yourself and others.”
All that aside, it was truly the children and teenagers at Kolap 4 Orphanage who made my short-lived stay so unforgettable. The group of people who welcomed us with open arms and treated us with so much warmth and sincerity throughout our stay. The same kids who have seen so many volunteers ( from all over the world ) come and go, but who still continue to open their hearts to us. It amazes me to see how brave and courageous they are … to befriend us & provide us with so much love and laughter despite knowing that it’s just a matter of time before we leave and be replaced by another batch of volunteers. Unconditional love? Not exactly, but close to it. ( Archie does though! 🙂 ) I tried putting myself in their shoes and it hit on me that I probably wouldn’t have the guts to open my heart out to a total stranger who would eventually leave me for good. The process is simply too heart-breaking. Yet as a volunteer, I did leave a tiny part of me behind.
Will I return? Hell,yes! In fact, I’m hoping to join the Serve Cambodia’ 2010 team either in September/December! Keeping my fingers crossed that all goes as planned.
Kolap 4 Orphanage
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Due to time constraints, we didn’t have the opportunity to sight-see in Phnom Penh. Such a pity! Nevertheless, we managed to squeeze in some time to visit Cambodia’s infamous S-21 Prison ( now known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum ). The former high school was turned into a prison and detention centre by the Khmer Rouge ( notorious Communist party that killed over 1 million lives within 4 yrs) , led by Pol Pot. An estimated 17,000 people perished at S-21 Prison. Only 7 survived the ordeal. Please visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Tuol Sleng History for more information.
It takes one to visit this somber place in order to develop a better understanding of just how inhumane the Khmer Rouge were during their regime. No one was spared, not even the women, old or young. A lady was murdered, despite being heavily pregnant with a child. Another was killed, in spite of the fact that she had a newborn in tow. Countless of photographs of tortured and mutilated victims greeted us as we walked from room to room. Horrifying images of the grim past that continued to haunt me through that night. The blood-stained floor and various torture devices left in their original state and positions, were remnants of the tragic past. I can’t understand how these disgusting people could actually bring themselves to carry out such merciless acts on innocent lives; it’s just sick. It was a pity that we only had an hour to explore the museum … A trip to a place that is so steeped in history certainly warrants a longer return visit.
The exterior of the abandoned prison in early Jan 1979
*pic credit to Tuol Sleng
10 rules to abide by