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On Life Lessons from Cambodia

For the past 10 days, Syl and I had gritted our teeth over English phonics.  I can well imagine Syl’s frustration, having to tussle with a foreign language and a Singaporean teacher with zero knowledge of the Khmer language.  Thank goodness for Google images and the ever-handy Cambodia-English Oxford Dictionary.  And thank the Lord’s grace for Syl’s perseverance, for within the span of a week, Syl was able to master basic phonics, and simple conversations.

My short stint as a volunteer teacher at Don Bosco Vocational Training Institute opened my eyes to many things.  How spoilt I had been in peaceful Singapore – always whining about this or that! For the girls in Don Bosco have so little in life, yet they have such big dreams.  One of my students wants to be a lawyer to fight for social justice, another dreams of opening up a café in her village and still another to be a teacher. You cannot help but be inspired by their ambitions.  It helps that they are under the tutelage of the loving Salesian sisters.

The Salesian sisters make the Parable of the Poor Widow’s offering (Mark 12:42-44) come alive for me. During my time there in late-June, there was mass repatriation – hundreds of thousands - of Cambodian migrant workers back from Thailand.  The Don Bosco sisters, teachers and students traveled all the way from Phnom Penh to PoiPet-Thai borders to distribute food to the needy, weary and displaced Cambodians flowing back home.

What generosity! What love! What compassion! I went to teach, but came away humbled by the teachings I had received in return.

LifeLessons1  

Salesian Sr Leeza with her students heading off for the 10-hour journey to Poipet to serve the repatriated Cambodians

LifeLessons2   Salesian sister, teacher and student volunteers heading off to Poipet to serve the repatriated Cambodians
LifeLessons3   My students and I at Don Bosco school

- Ann Heng