I am very glad that I participated in this trip. Although it was my first time to Cambodia, my head was already filled with precious memories. There were lots of things that I haven’t seen or experienced before. Throughout the whole trip, there were two things that left a deep impression on me.
The First Thing
It is the history day. We were visiting S-21, an outdoor genocide museum. I was listening to the audio guide. I learned that Cambodia was a powerful Kingdom a long time ago. However, in the 1970s, it suffered a lot from the Khmer Rouge massacre. The national strength declined a lot and even after so many years, Cambodia is still one of the least developed countries in the world. A large number of families are still struggling due to poverty. The history made me feel sad and I sat down on a bench next to the chain link fence (surrounding the museum). Then I heard footsteps behind me. I turned and found a little girl, perhaps 8 or 9, glazing at me through the fence. “Perhaps she was going home to have lunch.” I thought, and waved at her with a smile, but then I saw that she was whispering something to me. I walked closer to her, and realized that she was saying the word “money” in English.
I was a bit surprised. The girl was just 9. She was supposed to be carefree and bright, perhaps playing with her friends or learning in a school, but right now perhaps due to poverty, she was not able to go to school and had to wait here at the fence, trying to get tourists to pity her. I hesitated for a long time, thinking if I should give her money. I was also thinking to walk away, but then when I looked into the girl’s pitiful eyes again, my heart was softened. I took out a pencil and gave it to the girl, hoping that she would take it out of the desire to learn which, I thought, every kids should have. The little girl saw the pencil, paused for a second, and then shook her head hard. She carefully pushed my hand away and whispered “money” again.
I did not really remember how I walked away from the girl with my heavy heart filled with disappointment and sadness. This was the first time I realized how serious the issue of poverty is.
The Second Thing
It is the first day of housebuilding, the third day of the trip. I was sitting inside a half-built house, hammering the nails to fix the bamboo sticks on the floor. There was also an old woman sitting next to us. She seems to be very experienced. I needed to hammer 40 times to knock 1 nail in, she could knock a nail in just by raising her huge hammer for three times. Some of the bamboo sticks were a bit bent, therefore every time you hit a nail, the stick will bounce and pop the nail out. Whenever I encounter this kind of difficulty, the old woman came to help with a warm smile on her face. Within 5 seconds, the nail that makes me desperate would be firmly nailed into floor. After she finished, the old woman would point to the nail and say “Ha”, then smiled warmly at me. Although I did not understand her language, I could still feel her pride and joy after helping us foreigners. From this experience I found out that we could all make a change. Tabitha offers us an opportunity to interact with these villagers. We could show them that we truly wanted to help them saw them as equal. It also allows the villagers to show their skills, their joy with confidence in front of us. In contrast, when we just came to the village, all the villagers were very nervous and glazed at us suspiciously. They had been told by others that they were bad, and their lives were hard because they were bad. Housebuilding had really made them more confident, telling them that they were good. This change has impressed me a lot.
As a conclusion, the trip was very memorable to me. Cambodia did experience terrible things that results in its current situation as one of the most undeveloped country. However, I believe that with help from Tabitha and other organizations, gradually, Cambodia could rebuilt the brilliance of the Khmer Kingdom.