Cambodia Experience: Innocence

Day 3 – Day 6

The trip made me vulnerable, it spat the cold, hard truth on my face. As I immersed – although not completely – into the program and the local daily lifestyle; as I stood by and observed as an outsider with different set of eyes, I found myself worthless. I tried to search for something I’m worthy of; I found none.

I thought I could in some ways. I thought I would be of a good influence to people around me, or some sort along those lines. I thought I am made to be different and make a difference. I always think that “me against the world” would not hinder me as long as I’m strong-willed.

BUT in the end, this trip made me realised that as much as I want to, I could not change the world. I am only me, and I wasn’t born to do things.

There are so much in this world that need a change, a voice, a hand, or a good revamping. Yet there are also many other things and cronies and issues that are out of our hands. Out of my league.

This trip made me vulnerable, and angry. Angry at myself.

***

Because I was only there for a very brief time, I thought it would be best to volunteer in the daycare centre rather than the school. I thought it was a pretty reckless and insensible decision made, as I never really adore children. I see little children as nuisance and burden, so fragile that you need to pay extra attention and care for them. So troublesome that you have to drop everything just for them, as if your world only revolves around them. So spoilt, that you have to give in whenever they cry and throw a fit. Most of all, so confusing because I never understand them.

What more, these little kids that I would be meeting and spending time with, aged between 2 to 6. They’re too young, and I thought I might break them.

Keep an open mind, Deborah. You’re doing yourself a favour too, stop being a brat, my “adult self”, so very righteously, reminded me from time to time.

Little did I know, I needn’t have to worry about losing patience. These kids are amazing – we arrived at the door front and were welcomed by happy squeals and friendly hugs. They were so high spirited: the boys were asking and giving high fives, the girls were asking to be carried. The picture must have looked like a cheery war – all the kids were hugging parts of your legs and arms, while you tried to carry the little ones. Not knowing our names and where we come from, they took us in. Trustingly.

These kids are NOTHING like our spoilt privileged children in metropolitan cities. One could easily be touched by their enthusiasm and naiveness, despite the language barrier. They could picked up new things in the snap of a finger. You’ve  also got the mischievous few, but they are still as adorable as ever.

They looooove taking photographs – forever ready with a genuine smile and a peace sign when they see you with your cameras.

They are what little kids should be, if the society hadn’t spoilt ours.

A day at the centre

A day at the centre

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The quietest time of the day - afternoon nap

The quietest time of the day – afternoon nap

SBB (Stitching Beetje Beter) is a not-for-profit organisation behind the daycare centre and 2 schools/libraries. These were established for the kids living in the slums nearby, to offer them an opportunity to learn like all the other kids. It aims to keep them off the streets with their parents making a living, and keep them in the schools. They do not pay fees; all that was asked is that the parents provide own lunches for the kids.

The centre consist of only 3 female staff – the caretaker, the teacher, and another helper. 3 adults to look after 30 children, on (probably) minimal wages. That’s a full-on job and for that, they have my respects.

Later in Siam Reap, I found out from the program initiator – Cambodia Travel Partners – that they have to offer perhaps a bag of 30kg rice to the families, in exchange for the children to be in the centre.

And here we have children who would find excuses to not attend schools yours truly was guiltily one of those

These innocent faces and warm hands that I had came across got me pondering, and then fear for them. What is going to happen to them as they grow up? They’re so smart and bright, that one could not help but wonder what could happen without proper guidance and education. I sometimes shudder at the thoughts of what would become of them as they grow up. If nothing is done.

“We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was naked and you clothed me; I was homeless and you took me in’. Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing – but naked for dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.” – Mother Teresa 

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