Serving in Phnom Penh Week 2, 3, and being home

Faith, World

It has been a month since we left Cambodia, and my memories of our experience are getting a little fuzzy. In the midst of luxury, it’s hard to recall what it’s like to walk bare footed among chicken poop.

On one of the days at the province church, the teachers organised a combined session for the children. It was Women’s Day (8 March) and in Cambodia, it’s recognised as a public holiday. The children from the different classes gathered for a time of games, songs, and learning. That gave us the opportunity to not only know the children better, but also to interact with the teachers.

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Our last weekend in Phnom Penh was spent playing tourist in the city. We went to a crafts & food fair, which was set up not far away from Tuol Sleng genocide museum (also famously known as S21), and also visited the riverfront.

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Many of the stalls were selling handmade items, but two businesses in particular stood out to me. I found Angkor Bullet Jewellery especially meaningful as they make beautiful wearable jewellery pieces from bullet casings and bomb shells collected across the country. The owner of the business, Chantha, told us that as a designer, he believed this was a way to show that Cambodia is rising up from the tragedy of its past.

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The other business definitely worth a mention was L’Irrésistible, a brand of jams run by Action Cambodge Handicap. These jams are made and bottled by people with autism and intellectual disabilities. I happened upon this brand at a supermarket but didn’t know of its story until I stopped by their stall at the fair. The sale of these jams not only provide the people with jobs, but also help to sustain Action Cambodge Handicap, which offers these people a safe place to stay and work.

Later in the day, we made our way to the Royal Palace. We didn’t go in, but stayed outside where lots of local families were gathered on the lawn and benches. Hawkers came by peddling ice cream, balloons, snacks. Flocks of birds flew about in the air.

We took some photos and then crossed over to the riverfront.  We strolled along the Tonle Sap, passing families with kids, dating couples, and groups of young men playing Sepak Takraw.

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Eventually, we came to the end of the beautiful footpath and found ourselves in front of a night market. The music was loud, the crowd was a giant writhing mass, but out of curiosity, we entered and discovered that all the way at the back of the market was this open-air courtyard flanked by food stalls on all sides. Ground sheets were already laid as an invitation for people to sit and eat. It looked like one huge picnic.

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Over the next few days, we tried the food at different places, including a beer garden. I might do a separate post on the eateries and cafes we visited.

The last couple of days before we flew home was spent mainly at the province church. By this time, we had come to know the local teachers fairly well and I really liked them. The children had also begun to trust us and I often found myself on the receiving end of excited Khmer chatter, of which I did not understand. I had also grown comfortable with the rural environment and quite enjoyed the company of chickens scuttling about my feet.

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I hope, by the grace of God, I have served the people well. And I hope I return soon.

 

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Serving in Phnom Penh Week 1

World

We have been in Phnom Penh for about 1.5 weeks now. Thanks to Revd Steven and Gwen who have helped so much in getting us settled in, we are familiar with the neighbourhood and have got into a rhythm of the life here. It’s hard to believe that in another 1.5 weeks, we will be leaving and heading back home.

R and I go to the province church three times a week to help with the English classes that have just started. I help to create materials and learning resources, and during the lesson, I conduct English word games. R takes photographs and videos, and also helps to train the current teachers in their lesson delivery and class management skills.

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Outside of work, we have explored a bit of the neighbourhood we’re staying in and found that it’s teeming with eateries, cafes, and supermarkets. One of the food places we frequent is a stall that serves rice and dishes. For US$2, you get to choose a dish of your liking, which can be vegetables, meat, or soup. It is served with a pot of rice, of which you can eat as much as you can, and a pot of tea, of which you can drink as much as you can. The food is great and we have been going there almost every day.

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We also visited a couple of cafes for drinks and desserts and a number of supermarkets to compare prices of snacks and yoghurt. On one of the days last week, we walked around Russian Market and most recently, we headed down to Aeon Mall to catch the movie Red Sparrow.

To move around, R downloaded PassApp, which enables us to book the new tuk-tuks. It works just like Grab and Uber. Prices are reasonable and it gets us places without us having to haggle for a better price.

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These new tuk-tuks are smaller in size compared to the traditional tuk-tuks, ferrying a maximum number of three instead of six, but since there are just the two of us, we have no problems using the new tuk-tuks.

Mission

World

R and I returned from a mission trip to Cambodia last week. It was very good to be back at a place I’ve thought about often. 

We went with Aunty Joyce, Steven, Ruth, Lay Eng, Adeline, Veron and Josephine. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with these wonderful people.

Without fail, I’m also blessed by the people there. The simplicity of life is also one that strikes me.

Now that we’re back, it’s time to think about how we can contribute when we go there again.