Miss Leila Nguyen
Year 8 student, Cambodia Field Trip 2015
My experience travelling to Cambodia with a group of around 30 medical volunteers and helpers was truly thrilling. First up, we arrived at Siem Riep and toured around for the first day. We spent the next two days helping out at Lotus Kids Club with the SenHoa organisation. Here, we offered medical, dental and optical services to the patients and giving families nutritional packs at the end. After this, we took a flight to Kampong Chhnang where we toured for a day and visited floating villages for the next two days. In this area, the team decided to have the children go for dental service and the adults go for medical and optical services. This new arrangement was to save time.
During the time that I wasn’t running around and playing with the kids, I was handing out rice and nutrition packs to the families. I watched as women argued with Chenda over whether to get rice bags or not. Steve told me afterwards that some families were better off than others. I had never seen people so desperate for rice, the grain that I eat every day. It made me think of all the things that I took for granted in my life were things that poor families in places such as Cambodia were fighting for each day. However, this wasn’t the only occurrence that shocked me, it was also the sight of countless children, women and even some men who were extremely thin if not, anorexic looking. It was to the point where I was able to see their bone structure.
The next day, I was given the role of guiding the people around. During this time, I met a boy who looked around the age of ten. I was able to converse with him since he talked Vietnamese. He helped me with my job and we gradually got to know each other better. Towards the end of the day, I found out that boy was thirteen, the exact same age as me. I later discovered that it was due to malnutrition that he looked like he was three years younger!! Right before the children’s graduation, my brother and I decided to buy them all ice blocks.
"My last memory at the Lotus Kids Club was really unforgettable and makes me remember my first journey with the VVPA/AHHA as an amazing and emotional experience."
To all the children in Sydney my age, I recommend them to join VVPA. I persuade you to take a week off from school, go on a trip with this group of intelligent medical workers and have an one-of-kind experience. I loved travelling with the VVPA group, laughing, touring around, seeing new sights and I hope I can go on this journey again next year.
Throughout the journey, I enjoyed my time the most at the Lotus Kids Club. My time here was quite confusing with people telling me to do a range of jobs such as cutting out paper, directing the parents and children around and taking photos of medical forms. At first, I spent time with a teacher called Chenda and a helper called Steve, sorting and giving out nutrition packs to all the families. Whilst lying down during a break, I met Chenda’s son and his friend. Both were both extremely cheerful and energetic despite their unfortunate circumstances. As a student of James Ruse, I was quite shocked to find that the entire school was half the size of our oval! Nevertheless, the two children were running around playing on monkey bars and cubby house. I was provoked by their joyfulness and joined in as they dragged me along playing games like tag and soccer. It was the first time I had met such young children who were so cheerful despite their conditions.