COME and SEE 2 by Gabrielle Low

The family of Joseph and Angela Watts and their children Joann and Angelo and the family of Michael and Mo Leng Chong and their children, Michelle and Maverick arrived in Siem Reap from Singapore on 3rd January. The two families were on 'home' visit to Singapore after they emigrated to Australia. They decided to take six days out of their month's visit to see Cambodia, after Carol's (Angela's sister) visit in December 2007. They were inspired to bring their children to expose them to the reality of the less privileged after they read Simon's, Marc's and Joanne Newn's sharing and short reflections (cf Come and See)

The group visited the floating village in Siem Reap as well as the Jesuits Refugees Center through the kindness and warm hospitality of Fr. Manoj Ekka SJ.

At the Jesuits' Service Centre

They also visited the "MUST SEE" Angkor Wat and the Artisans Artist. 

At the Artisan's workshop in the floating village

On the way down to Phnom Penh, they stopped by the lake to have a picnic lunch. If you do not know better, you would think that you were at the beach by the sea. It was a lovely spot to break the journey and enjoy the fellowship. It was good to see the four teenagers having fun on their hammocks.

Picnic by the lake

Dinner with Bro Matthew Tan SJ and Fr Denis Carries SME

In Phnom Penh, they visited the Missionary of Charity, Home of Love in Monivong. Michelle, Joann, Maverick and Angelo spent some time with the children, doing origami.

At the Home of the Missionaries of Charity

The following day, the Chong family decided to do the touristy stuff and visited the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum whereas the Watts family visited the MC (Home of Hope) in Chom Chao. This was where Angelo had his first Kodak moment of feeding a baby!  

Angelo Watts feeding a baby

Praying and fellowship with the Novena Community

At the same time, the Watts family visited the MC Brothers home, they asked Bro Sebastian, Superior of the House, what some of the needs of the community were. Bro Sebastian shared that they would like to have a small TV for the children's study center. Thus, Angela made a phone call and asked one of their friends in Singapore if they would like to donate a TV to the Home. Violla, the next thing we knew, we were heading back to town to get the TV. When we delivered the TV, it was a delight to share in the joy of Bro Sebastian and the children when they received the gift through the generosity of the Fernandez family. 

At the Student Centre of the MC Brothers in Chom Chao

The happy recipients of the new TV set

The families also visited the Killing Fields and the S21 or Toul Seng Museum. It was good to note that Angela briefed and prepared the children before their visit. After the visit, there was another short session of debriefing. The children were made to understand the horror of evil and tyranny of the leader and what it could do to a country. As usual, the trip is never complete without breaking bread with its community and SHOPPING! 

Visiting the Killing Fields

In conclusion, the voices of their own experiences:

"I feel sorry for the children who come begging for money and those who are disabled. I feel happy that I fed a one-year boy at the MC center. I feel that I took care of him well and I pity him as his mother abandoned him and he misses her. I admire the children who are disabled/deformed but still can eat, walk, etc. by themselves and live a happy life. I pity the children who were searching through the rubbish for food. I also feel that the children living by the river are much happier than the children in the home. Cambodia is a nice country except for the poverty and the traffic. It was a very good experience and bargaining during shopping is very fun except when you are scolded. Most things here are cheap and Cambodian food and riding a tuk tuk are very interesting.

Angkor Wat and Thom were a very good experience as it is so grand and it such large scale even though it was built over 1000 years ago and the carving so detailed. I didn't really enjoy the killing fields and S21 as I could not really stomach everything. I felt a bit queasy after that and Aunty Gabby did a good job of calming me down. Overall, I enjoyed myself a lot in Cambodia and the sightseeing and experienced many things I couldn't see in Singapore."  Michelle Chong (13 )

 "This was an amazing experience! Most people who live there are living in poverty. People were actually digging out of the garbage looking for food and drink. We visited the Angkor Wat, Angkor Tom, Killing fields, S21 and many others. Aunty Moleng, Uncle Michael, Michelle and Maverick came with us to Cambodia. 

We went to Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom, it was so tiring coz' we were on our feet the whole day! It is amazing how the place can last for almost 1000 yrs and still with great detail on the carvings. The stories that the carvings tell are interesting but started to get boring after awhile coz' they were all about battles and victories of wars. As years passed, trees now grow out of the ruins. 

We went to an orphanage; there were quite a few kids. But I think 2 or 3 of them are there only for day care. Most of the children were abandoned by their parents. One of them had neither hands nor feet. All she has are stubs! Even though she has such a disability, she is very independent. When it was dinner time, we tried to feed her; guess what? She brushed our hands away and fed herself. Her right arm balances the spoon while the left pushes in the food. We also went to another orphanage of children and old people diagnosed with the HIV virus. But, not all of them have HIV; some of them are mentally challenged or deformed. At the orphanages, we played with the children there and taught them how to do various things like drawing and origami. I felt sad that these bright children live without love or proper care from parents. But I was also happy because they are lucky enough to be cared for. 

This was an unforgettable trip…I don't know how I can ever thank my parents for bringing my brother and I there. It was such and eye opener for me. It made me understand that I must not take things for granted." Joanne Watts (12 )

"The people in Cambodia are very poor and dirty, a lot of them have to dig in the garbage just to find food. Some even risk their lives to go into the forest to find food, even though they know that there are mines in the forest.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a world heritage sight because of its amazing area of about 1 000 000 kilometres squares. Angkor Thom may be a world heritage sight, but it is very amazing how it can still stand even after 1000 years. Although both of those tourist sights are very amazing, they were still pretty boring.

We also visited an orphanage where there were children whose parents either died, or were abandoned" Angelo Watts (10)

"The trip has enabled our kids to see how fortunate they are and the poor conditions that the children in the third world country grow up. Special thanks also go to Frances, Gabby, Brother Matthew (SJ) and Father Manjo (SJ) for their time spent and their warm hospitality." Chan Mo Leng and Michael Chong

"The trip was meant to be a learning journey for the kids because most of our trips with them were "fun" & "shopping" trips. We wanted them to see the other aspects of life and to give a little of themselves in the process.

I am glad they took in as we had hoped and gave a little of their time and love to the less fortunate.  I hope there will be a chance for the kids' school to do something for the Cambodian people too.This was one unforgettable trip for our family, it'll be remembered for years to come." Angela Watts