Reflections on Cambodia
by Lia Myerski and Spencer Jensen, Hope Service Club members
Twenty members of the HOPE Service Club travelled to Cambodia for 9 days in February with the purpose of participating in direct service to build a school in rural Pursat Province through a partnership with HOPE International. In addition to this trip experience, the HOPE Service Club aims to raise awareness of the extreme poverty, effective development and the need for education and access to water in Cambodia.
The first day of the trip was spent in Phnom Penh to learn about Cambodia's devastating history under the Khmer Rouge which helped us understand the current situation in Cambodia. Soon after, we took a 5-hour drive to Pursat where we learned more about HOPE International's work in Cambodia and visited families who have benefitted from HOPE's water well program.
We spent most of our time in the rural village of Tadeis, working on expanding the local primary school. While visiting the school, we saw the overwhelming number of children who were in each classroom and that image gave us more motivation as we built the foundation of a neighboring school building. Working side by side with the locally hired labourers, we helped construct the foundation for the building out of rocks, cement, and love. We stayed at the site for two nights and three days in tents and we were able to understand the large amount of effort that was needed to build something so important. We had some difficulties adjusting to the heat, but the support given to us by the people of HOPE helped us greatly. Most of us would agree that the highlight of our trip would definitely be the children at the Tadeis school. Despite the language barrier, we were able to connect with the school children and had a lot of fun playing games and talking with them. The children had demonstrated their selfless attitude by helping us build the school.
All of these experiences helped us get a better understanding of the poverty and disparities in Cambodia and the lifestyles of the Cambodian people. People who received help from HOPE had water wells donated to them and we were able to meet a family who told how water access has improved their lives drastically. The other family we visited were waiting for a well and talked to us about the struggles they live through now and their future plans after receiving a well.
Overall, the trip to Cambodia was an incredible experience full of effort, learning opportunities, and a chance to understand the economic disparity between people around the world. We were able to truly see the needs of others for education and access to clean water. We absolutely recommend this experience for students who are able to join the HOPE Service Club in the future.