Hope Villages Goodwill Mission Trip Dec 2015 Jan 2016 Issue
Jan 1, 2016 | 0 comments
Yohanna Abdullah, one of the 29 delegates shared her maiden voyage to Cambodia during Hope Village Goodwill Mission Trip from 2 to 6 December 2015.
It has been a long time since I came close to village life and Ms. Ann Phua beckoned me with the promise of an alfresco dining with the roasting of a whole cow for our meal in the village. I was very pleased with the simple but delicious food packed prettily in lotus leaves. The clear blue sky and the thousand stars were spectacular. This is the highlight of my visit.
Young and old were on a mission to help with medical checks, donations and friendship to 116 Muslims, Buddhist and Christians families who were once homeless. Now, they live united in one village, led by the village elders. The warm relations between the villagers go beyond mere tolerance but real acceptance of each other as part of their extended family.
The people were greatly appreciative of their homes, even if they were simply built. One room with thatched leaves or concrete homes with zinc roof fits a family of four or more. Builder Mr Toem Sim, 53, builds homes for the community village said, “I live in a thatched house, it is not beautiful, just a place to rest and work and is cool. We still need to support building more houses for the more needy families.”
The villagers may be poor, but they have enough food grown on their one hectare of agriculture land allotted by the government. They farm rice, corn and other vegetables with fruits like banana and papaya; and chicken which we had the pleasure of enjoying in our meals. Another treat we had, that we cannot find at home is a grill banana sticky rice dessert.
One plant that stands out is the moringa a superfood also known as kelo in Singapore. Various parts of the plants are also useful and we had a taste of moringa omelette, moringa rice and tea.
61 years old Mr Oukan, who used to live in Kg Chhnang is happy to have a house and a farm at the community Village. “Life is better here than in my previous village. Now, with bigger land we can grow more crops including moringa.” He earns US$0.50 per kilogram of fresh moringa leaves. He added, “It will be a challenge for us if the support from Singaporeans is cut off.”
The Medical team led by Dr Radiah with her team of nurses and volunteers from Club Heal saw and treated 119 adults and 35 children. Dr Radiah commented, “The common aliment is cough due to upper respiratory tract infection, muscle ache and hypertension. Otherwise the villagers are rather healthy.”
The medical team also conducted a health talk for the adults, while Nathalie and Catharina gave talks on personal hygiene and tooth brushing.
Junainah together with Amalina and Wardah from Brunei engaged the students in songs and games amidst much chatter and laughter.
Three students and their supervisor Jacqueline, from Singapore Management University were also part of the delegation to observe and study the community village.
Others who were not on the trip gave donations including rice and biscuits for the villagers.
We were warmly welcomed into their homes when Arfat and her team visited them to gather feedback. The thatched house has the natural earth as flooring. But the nice touch is the pavilion outside the house where they can sleep, prepare food or simply gather around for company and conversation. Life is simple and laidback, a throwback to Singapore in the 50s to 70s. I watched as the chickens and chicks, the ducks and the cows roam and rule the land with “land mines” – their dungs, scattered all over the village. It pays to keep your eyes to the ground when walking on the dirt tracks.
Many in the village are still waiting anxiously for their concrete houses to be built.
Back in Phnom Penh on our last evening we dined again by candle light over by the scenic Mekong River. Oh how I didn’t want to move from my seat at the Titanic restaurant, which is designed like a ship, presumably the famous sunken Titanic.
It was my maiden voyage to Cambodia but I hope it won’t be the last.