Late April last year, a team of doctors and volunteers with A Call To Share (ACTS) embarked on a medical mission trip, Battambang - VAC (Battambang - Vaccinate A Child), to administer Hepatitis B vaccinations to the locals living in the province.
ACTS is deeply gratified to Mr. Robert C. Ludwig for sponsoring all complete courses of Hepatitis B vaccinations, delivering the 3 courses of vaccinations for every person who came to register in the initiative.
This inspiration for the social mission to start to vaccinate all Cambodians against this serious viral liver infection was championed because Mr. Ludwig knew that many Cambodians cannot afford the injections on their own. Since last year, the program has taken its course. To date, over 2000 completed courses of vaccinations has been delivered through the collaboration with ACTS medical team.
Dearest Dr John, Dr Priscilla and Dr Margaret!
Hope this message finds you and all your dear ones well!
This is to share and to express to all of you our love and gratitude for the wonderful experience you, once more gave to us all. We had our trip over the weekend in July even though the raining season has started. The Lord gave us a wonderful weather during our excursion, so the children were able to enjoy themselves and learnt much.
In the previous week, we also have the outing of the Kindergarten. The children visited DreamLand in Phnom Penh. With a little contribution from all of them and your generous help we were able to do both... a whole $200 Dollars remain after covering all the expenses. We will use the excess to help defray the costs for renovation works at the Kindergarten of Chress. With the new school year, we will have one more class for the three-years old children of the village.
After their 20-year old Land Cruiser broke down twice on a home visit to a student’s house in mid-Feb 2016, the Sisters knew that they needed a new vehicle to continue their work. Many of the poorer students come from villages all over Cambodia, some as far as Mondulkiri, about 400km away from Phnom Penh.
The first step was to pray. In particular, the community asked St Joseph for his intercession. After all, he has protected and provided for many Salesian houses through his prayers over the years.
Word was then put out. In no time, many generous hearts responded to the call – be it through prayer, spreading the word, donations or their support. The full amount needed was raised in less than 2 weeks.
It is thus fitting that on the Feast of St Joseph on 19 March, the new Toyota Revo was blessed. May this vehicle and all the work it does bring glory to God!
This trip to Battambang, Cambodia provided me an opportunity to integrate better into the Catholic community. Right through from the initial preparation stages, there were many platforms for interactions between all participants through, spiritual talks, faith-sharing and makan sessions. During the trip, I had a wonderful time getting acquainted with people from all walks of life and also fellow members not serving in the same village. All these arise especially during mealtime, reflection sessions and even on the many bus ride. The reality of being out of your comfort-zone and having to adapt and fit in with everybody else is the best tool to break down communication barriers and foster only empathy and team spirit.
It was prideful realizing the selflessness of our fellow brothers and sisters from different walks of life fervently partaking in this Mission trip. Our conversations were like-minded, on giving back not only resources of time and money but also of hope and faith. It felt good to finally be able to be a part of something and being able to accomplish and actualize the thoughts of giving or ‘paying it forward’.
I spent the week at the Kindergarten in Don Bosco School in Tuol Kork with Bernie, 12 teenagers & 2 artists (Sabrina & Edmund). The other ACT members from Singapore taught the vocational girls in the building next to ours and we joined them there for lunch every day.
In his ACTS Advent message, Dr John wrote: What is the impact of the Advent Missions to Cambodia and Myanmar? The answer came from Sr. Maria. She replied: "I was reflecting that our Buddhist students when they graduate and leave the school, what memories they would bring with them? One of that will be the experience of Christmas, living and celebrating with you ACTS yearly and by this experience, they themselves would repeat acts of kindness towards others.”
Some people from Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd, were so inspired by Carol Then, a veteran with ACTS Missions to Phnom Penh, that they decided to make that journey on their own to seek out for themselves what keeps us going back.
“A seed was sowed and this changed the lives of 14 volunteers & 30 students…
It began in August 2014…Jasmine wrote me an email to enquire about the ACTS Mission trip which I have been doing. Her manager and team-mates were exploring an idea to do something meaningful for their teambuilding event. Hence, they cast the net and enquired from colleagues about Missions they have done before. She knew about this Mission through our casual conversations when I shared about my experience as a volunteer in Cambodia.
Just as it is a great comfort to see the familiar immigration counters and the automated gates after getting off the plane at Changi airport, the first Mass back at St Ignatius after some time overseas always feels great to be back home.
Whether I had been to empty pews of Stockholm or the jam-packed aisles in Korcula, the imposing granduer of Rome or the soaring spirituality of Barcelona, it was always great to be back home, among the familiar faces I see every week.
This December I had a new experience. Instead of feeling “I’m home” when I got back to St Ignatius I felt an unusual longing to be back at a different church. A single storey, single aisled church with no airconditioning, and with mats on the floor instead of wooden benches. Barely six hours back in Singapore I was already wanting to return to the parish church of Battambang.
While Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, and Siem Reap is the site of Angkor Wat, Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia. North of Phnom Penh and west of Siem Reap, Battambang is nearer to Thailand than it is to the other two cities. It does not have an international airport.
Last year’s annual ACTS outreach to Phnom Penh from Dec 14th to 20th was a journey made by 350 participants. The highlight of the mission was the inauguration of the Don Bosco High School in Tuek Thla, Cambodia on Dec 15th, marking a momentous day in Don Bosco School’s history.
The inauguration ceremony was graced by guest–of-honour, His Excellency Pa Socheatvong, Governor of Phnom Penh and Battambang. The ceremony was attended by local government officials, representatives from major donors, several bishops and priests of Phnom Penh and Battambang, and also religious and officials from various ministries.
Dr Lee fondly recalled how “…some primary school leavers were spotted looking in through the fence of Don Bosco School-TT at the activities that were happening during one of our visits. I realised that many were unable to do any other jobs except factory assembly work or worse take to the streets as few lucky ones are offered scholarships to continue high school education.”
ACTS Phnom Penh and ACTS Battambang are in Catholic News!
While 350 ACTS (A Call to Share) participants were on their annual mission trip to Phnom Penh from Dec 14-20, some got the chance to witness the inauguration of the Don Bosco High School in Tuek Thla, Cambodia, on Dec 15. :)