Group 3 here 😀
Our morning began with the buying of logistics. A few members of each group were sent to purchase the necessary logistics, after which we went to Kolap 4 to begin work.
Our arrival was welcomed by the kids, whom we found to be extremely hospitable and friendly! For those who had gone for previous Serve Cambodia trips, much time was spent catching up with old buddies. However, much of the physical environment (e.g. in the library) had changed rather drastically and was slightly different from our expectations.
For our group, we began working on the library by shifting out the items. Thankfully, we had about 5 rather strong Cambodian guys to help shift the heavy shelves (one of which disintegrated, revealing to us the condition of some of their items). They were very helpful and did not hesitate to come forward to lend a helping hand.
We found that many of their items had strong sentimental value to them and they were a bit sensitive about us touching their things.
There was a mummified frog!
This was later followed by helping other teams clean the dormitories. This was probably the most memorable part of the cleaning experience for us (the girls). The guys were occupied with varnishing, which includes getting high on varnish and seeing Lionel (“songhair”) becoming Wuzhun, which is quite a stretch on the imagination. HAHAHAHAHA 😀
The “aroma” of the dorm area could be discerned from a distance away, but this was much worse when we arrived at the frontline of the action (i.e. the windows and walls directly in between the dorm and the chicken coop area). This entails the stench of chicken poop (hens running freely outside the dormitory) as well as the remnants of sewage. Apparently sewage from the toilet when flushed arrives at the back of their dorms and creates a metallic, nauseating stench. Many of us wished for the presence of an oxygen tank, complete with astronaut-style full body suit.
Nevertheless, the piles of hardened built-up gunk (unidentifiable mounds of dust, various animal excretions and others) were eventually scrubbed and rubbed away, leaving stretches of walls and windows appearing 20 shades lighter than previously found.
But importantly what we learnt was that we are really blessed in Singapore. We take for granted things like hygiene. Often we face problems trying to educate the children at Kolap 4 in order to create a culture of taking care of their physical surroundings. However easier said than done– habits and mindsets are difficult to change, especially if they are used to this way of life.
We were catching a breather after the cleaning when we decided to deploy ourselves for the interview with the kids! This was very fun as we got to interact with the children and know much more about their background.
The interview’s main objective is to gather background information about them, to facilitate things like sponsorship. We got to learn their stories at the same time, which proved to be a fruitful experience. Many children spoke of their families. Some never got to know their parents (or see their family only three times a year), or experienced breakdowns in families. Many come so as to have the opportunity to study 🙂
They, like everyone, have dreams. We got to know what they wanted to be when they grow up, such as doctors, teachers, singers, businessmen, farmers. We hope that they will be able to fulfill their aspirations.
After a lengthy farewell, we packed up for the day. Today’s dinner was beef/pork/fishball noodle soup at a Vietnamese restaurant. We also ordered some extra sides like spring rolls (both the usual crispy one and the more exotic Vietnamese version) and drinks. It was scrumptious! (Jinglin says it is a welcome change from the chicken and rice).
Spirits were quite high in the bus, fuelled by music and Zhi Cong’s antics. Maybe it was the mixing of drinks with condensed milk that did the trick. Sugar rush!
At this point on Day 4, we cannot believe that we are already halfway towards ending our ServeCambodia trip. There are still so many things we would want to do. So we must cherish our time spent at Kolap and make the best out of it! This also means that we should get a good rest. Till we meet again, goodnight!
(Keep a lookout for pictures tomorrow!)