ACTS Moves Beyond Phnom Penh
2011 DEC: ACTS-Battambang team heads northwards
“Karen, is there anyone who will be meeting your group at Siem Reap Airport?”, asks a Senior Member of ACTS.
“No. Battambang is 3 hours away from Siem Reap. We can’t expect the (Salesian) Sisters to travel all the way here to pick us from the airport.” I replied.
“You’re sure there is really no one who can help to see you guys through Customs?”
“hmm … got!”
“God! He’ll definitely see us through!”
It was with such faith that the ACTS-Battambang team headed northwards to outreach to the needy Cambodians in the North, instead of the usual beneficiaries in Phnom Penh.
The Senior Member was concerned that there may be delays at the Customs since it was the first time ACTS was travelling via Siem Reap Airport. Traditionally, ACTS has only travelled via Phnom Penh International Airport where the main group reached out to various beneficiaries cited in Phnom Penh and arrangements would have been made with the Salesian Sisters to see through a smooth passage at the Customs. For the first time, ACTS deployed a group to reach out to needy Cambodians in Battambang province (4th most populous and 5th largest province of Cambodia).
Though ACTS is a Catholic-led mission, more than half of the ACTS-Battambang team were non-Catholics. Members ranged from 11 years old to 59 years old, were of various nationalities and from different walks of lives. However, this did not deter the team from sharing their love with the needy Cambodians.
Travelling with the NUS Catholic Medical Society, the ACTS team reached out to the Don Bosco Vocational School for Girls and Arrupe Centre for the Handicapped. Though the team comprised only 24 members (including 4 children), much was accomplished within the short 5-day mission trip. At Arrupe Centre, a fresh coat of paint was given to one of the buildings in Arrupe Centre upon the Centre’s request and simple Christmas decorations was set up for the Centre. Over at the Don Bosco School, a fresh coat of paint was given to the perimeter wall, Christmas decorations set up in the premise, meals were prepared, songs and dances were taught, and a self-reflection class was conducted.
At the invitation of the Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, Msgr Enrique Figaredo, the team also visited Tahen Village where they appreciated the living conditions and environment of the villagers. Despite their dire living conditions and environment, the team was received by warm smiles and hospitality. This visit also gave the team a better understanding of the needs of the villagers and potential outreach projects in future.
Overall, this outreach was well received by the beneficiaries and requests have already been made for the mission to be continued in the following year with more songs and dances classes, simple English classes and also to teach students on the importance of life. A Call to Share (ACTS) main committee has acknowledged the requests and also given in-principle approval to proceed with the outreach in the following year.
Article contributed by Karen Teresa Tan (ACTS-Battambang 2011)