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A SHELTER FOR AN BINH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Supporters of MC Home

10 APR 2012: A letter to all friends and supporters

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To all our friends and supporters

Thank you for your friendship. It warms my heart to see so many people come together to make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate. Words cannot express how thankful I am for all your kind support as we embark on this gratifying and enriching journey to this shelter (which is home to children who have being orphaned as a result of their parents dying of AIDS, abandoned children as well as HIV infected women who are living their last days on earth).

This mission was conceived after we visited Missionaries of Charity Home (MC Home) in December 2011. Back then, some of us were involved in a mission trip to Cambodia organized by ACTS Singapore. On the last day of the mission, our Logistics Team decided to visit MC Home and our hearts were broken by what we saw.

MC Home sits on a fairly large piece of land and a unsealed road leads vehicles into the main compound. Our van drove into the gates of MC Home that fateful day and we were immediately confronted by the sight of a algae infested pond which was followed by an assault on our noses from the stench of rotting matter. We continued down the road and stopped in front of the main building... home to the TB patients as well as the open dining hall. We stepped out and started coughing as the van was completely engulfed with dust from the unsealed road.... and I could not help imagining that we were filming in the Sahara desert except that this was Cambodia and we were not movie stars.

Walking towards the open dining hall, we were greeted by Sister Carole, an extremely cheerful Singaporean nun. As we exchanged greetings and pleasantries, a sound startled us from some distance away. A boy in his teens started crawling towards us while continuing to grunt like a wild beast. With a gait like a wounded animal, it appeared that we were going to be attacked... but what happened next will forever be etched in my mind. The boy had the most beautiful smile that one could ever imagine. He was so excited to see us and he was there to welcome us.... deformed limps and all, and he radiated love.... unconditional love.... and joy that someone cared enough to visit. Tears welled in my eyes and I looked away.

Sister Carole then led us to the children's area at the back of the facility. Along the way, we passed a couple of ladies who sat on some benches chatting away. They greeted us cheerfully as we walked passed them, looking no different from our neighbours in our housing estates in Singapore except that they are all awaiting their end from HIV.

We passed a room which had some rows of rusted beds.... some empty, some occupied. A lazy mosquito net hung over each bed and an old fan could be heard, swirling overhead, humming away... almost mirroring, the humming away of the lives that laid in front of us. I felt ashamed that my own life was so different and comfortable. Leaving the room, I noticed a sign prohibiting photography. I realised that this was meant to preserve the little dignity remaining with these women.

We next saw the children's playground and could not help but wonder, how anybody could play in this area. Looking almost like Beirut after a bombing sweep, will these kids ever know, what a real playground is supposed to look like.

Strolling up a makeshift ram to the second storey of the building, we admired the scenery surrounding the home. We were greeted by some kids as we stepped into their quarters. One 5 year old boy approached us with a sword made from balloons, gesturing that he wanted to engage us in a fencing match. Aloysius stuck his hands out and the match began. We were told that just 4 days ago, this same boy laid dying in hospital, nearly breathing his last.... I can only speculate, that his time was not yet up.

A Caucasian man sat on the floor in a corner. He had some kids with him, some standing, some sitting on his lap. He held them with love, singing nursery rhythms to them in French while they responded in Khmer... and sometimes, they just sat glazing at each other in silence... perhaps each knowing the truth, that the end was really not that far away.

We were led to a room where some babies were being cleaned.. A little 6 month old girl laid wrapped in a towel... kicking away without a care in the world. Little does she know, that she is carrying a death sentence for a crime which she did not commit. The next few minutes were spent soaking in the scene. I was happy to see so much love from the caregivers but yet, left with a heavy heart.

We passed a Caucasian teaching English to a Cambodian girl. We found out that she was Dutch and just 17. She left her family to be in MC Home for 3 months.... all alone but yet, never alone, for she knew that she would never be alone again... She knew that the love she will take from Cambodia will be with her, forever. I wondered if there was a lesson from this 17 year old kid for me.

Walking away with a heavy heart, I struggled with a spinning head as Sister Carole introduced us to Sister Bertina... who then showed us their living area as well as their chapel... ever so cheerful and happy. They walked us to our van, where I found Yen, my wife, crying from what she saw. They gave us a little holy medallion each to take away... a memento which I still keep beside my bed... perhaps to remind me to always be happy.

The journey back to our base was eerily silent... as Andrew, Aloysius, Jerome, Chris, Yen & I reflected on the visit. Inside us, we knew that we were touched...

We saw death in the face but yet Happiness outshone
We saw death in the face but yet Dignity upheld
We saw death in the face but yet Hope remained
We saw death in the face but yet Peace prevailed

We decided that we had to do something and this mission was born. Soon, our fellow ACTS 2011 participants (Jeremy, James & Jacinta) came on board. Word spread and before long, a team was assembled with friends of different ages, races and religious beliefs... all coming together with the common objective to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

On 27 April, 17 of us will leave for Phnom Penh, where we will seek to make a difference to our friends living in MC Home. However, our little contribution will pale in comparison to the gift that we are about to receive.... the Gift of understanding what it is like to live in a selfless manner.... the Gift of learning to live with Joy when everything appears in dire straits, the Gift of learning to live with Peace, in the face of death.

As our supporters, you too will enjoy this Gift from MC Home... as we celebrate together ... and shed tears together. Thank you my friends.... we may not have met but you have all made a difference. Please continue to support this mission with your generous donations. We ask also that you continue to send your good intentions our way and to pray for our team as we embark on this journey with you.

GOD Bless and Happy Easter to all.

Please continue to follow our progress via our Facebook page.

Sincerely,

Kelvin

Our Mission Team
Aloysius | Ian | Jacinta & Chris | Jason | James | Jeremy | Jerome | Mark | Nicole & Adrian | Peggy & Geoff | Wettasinghe family | Yen & Kelvin

Article contributed by Kelvin Wee