Hello, this is Er Yen.

Before I embarked on my first trip to Battambang in June 2014, I’d never thought of going back, but I did. This is my second time in STORM program and I decided to stay for 3 weeks. Last trip, we spent most of the time teaching in LOHI and helping out with the construction. However, this trip is more village oriented. We were arranged to visit several villages and spent more time with the locals.

Going back to Battambang was like going back to a second home in foreign country. Yes, I feel like I’m more connected to the place and also the people than last time. Last trip, I couldn’t get to know more people as I’m not used initiating conversations. So this time around, I challenged myself to approach the locals first. I really glad I did.

Village visits were pretty challenging to me, we had to carry out the hygiene and sanitary workshop for the children who had no idea what we were talking about. Translators were needed at all times. Furthermore, I’m never good at dealing with kids. They are just a nightmare to me. Surprisingly, the kids in the villages were very easy-going and fun to be around with. There was this part which I still remember vividly: The kids stuffed me with different kind of fruits all at once and told me the names of them in Khmer (that’s where I started to learn more Khmer). Looking at all the children makes me question the meaning of life…

What if one of them could be a successful individual who has the power to influence the world but the only thing that holds him/her back is the lack of access to better education?

Therefore, it made me cherish the choices and opportunities I have in education. For example, having the opportunity to attend an international school and study abroad. What I’ve complaint about school work and exams during high school were merely nothing compared to the obstacles they have to go through in life or education. To conclude, life isn’t fair. You have to hold on to what you have in life and fight for what you want. Taking for granted the things you have makes you an ungrateful person.

I wouldn’t trade anything with what I’ve been through and the friendships I’ve made in this trip, because I love every bit of Battambang and the people I’ve met or haven’t met. Fortunately, I’ve reunited with a friend who I met in the first trip, he told me he likes it when foreigners come to Cambodia for mission trips because they really need our help. For a moment, it struck me like lightning as I used to see this trip as an excuse to have a productive holiday. I’ve never thought our presence can make an impact in their lives, or maybe I always overlooked little things in life. I wouldn’t mind joining this program for the 3rd, 4th… time ! Three weeks passed by without realizing, every second I’ve spent in this trip is so surreal. I wish I could extend my stay there, but I’ve to continue my life in Malaysia.

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