Volunteering in Baray

Besides travelling, we also planned to do some volunteering. We did not get to do this in South America as most places wanted us to stay for at least a month. However, we did get some volunteering done in Baray, Cambodia at Wisdom Nest School. We learnt about the school when Esther shared about the work there during one of our services.

When we first arrived in Phnom Penh, it didn’t seem that bad. Feels similar to other South East Asian countries. But the school is in Baray, Kampong Thom province. It is located around 2-3 hours away from the capital. When we got there, it was really a shock as it’s located in the village, with dirt roads, no phone coverage, cows roaming freely and insects galore.
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The first few nights were a shocker because many “friends” visited us. Big lizards, giant spiders, a rat in our bathroom, praying mantis, frogs and even a crab!! It wasn’t as bad for me as I experienced farm life when I was younger, not so sure if Mag enjoyed it though. I’m now somewhat of a pro in getting them out of the house with my trusted weapon of choice – the broom.

Anyways, we helped out at the school by being relief teachers, teaching Maths, English and Sunday school songs. I also did a short promo video to help raise funds and updated their website. Teaching ain’t easy and it was tiring. I always have a lot of respect and admiration for teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters. Every night we slept at around 7-8pm. We were dead tired and had nothing else to do, no entertainment, no data, no TV, no nothing. It was real village life, in a good way 🙂
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Also worth mentioning was the delicious food here cooked by one of our hosts, Phalum. It was one of the highlights of our stay, we looked forward to every meal! We had two servings of rice every time and Cambodian rice is different in texture, it is stickier and definitely yummier!
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As the days went by, we got used to the rhythm and teaching was much easier. We got to know the kids and teachers, and started to enjoy our stay. Everyone was very welcoming and helpful. We also got to know of their everyday struggles. Broken families, violence, abandonment, orphans and poverty. But we were also touched and moved by the stories and the good works that are done by missionaries and volunteers. Some have been here for 20 years. Those who left their comfortable luxurious lives to help and serve those in need. Truly inspirational. Truly God’s will and God’s work being done.
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This experience really moved and changed us. Even more than travelling around the world. It really makes you re-think your priorities, gives you a new perspective and a new appreciation of what you have. We are so blessed to be living in a house, not worrying about our next meal and all the extra things we have to enrich our lives.
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We had an opportunity to take an ox cart ride over the weekend and we went with three kids. Sokna, Sokhim and Samuel. (all with sad stories too 😦 ). Just seeing them running along the muddy puddles laughing and jumping into a flooded rice field as if they were in some water theme park totally made our day. It’s the simplest things in life that brings us so much joy!
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So after returning to peaceful, clean and safe Singapore, when I hear people complaining about their “difficult” jobs, or how hard their lives are, I am reminded of how truly blessed we are. Even buying iced coffee, I would think twice as it could actually send a kid to school in poorer countries. So when you buy your next iPhone X, do you really need the upgrade? You could send up to 4-5 kids to school for a year…
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Think about it…

If you would like to donate, please go to www.simplygiving.com/social/wisdomnestschool

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