My First Visit to PKH – Personal Reflections

Dear PKH Friends,

Back in November 2015, PKH had the privilege to host Dr. Teoh Mei Lin, a medical doctor and member of St. Andrew’s Cathedral who was there together with her two sons, Westin and Wesford. We are thankful for them having provided medical assistance during their stay despite it being the first visit to PKH. So, let’s hear their personal reflections.

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The new school year began in early November and many children from nearby villages including Chom Bok and Trang were warmly welcomed by teachers at PKH Trang Centre. As new and returning students, close to 300 in numbers, completed registration and settled into their new classes, our team started medical health screening for the students and staff at the school. Our mobile clinic was quickly set up in the school library with a simple registration area, another area for anthropometric measurements, a doctor’s station and a pharmacy cum dispensing area. The students aged 6 to 16 years filed in patiently, some wide –eyed  and others smiling. Much anxiety was broken by the friendly ‘chats’ and interactions of my  school- aged young helpers, while the children waited for their turn to see the doctor! Most had nutritional issues, with some having common skin conditions and digestive problems.

We were blessed to have Pastor Thona not only aiding us in translation, but also giving gentle words of advice to many young children, some of whom were in school for the first time! Some children came from the local Suoy and Krung tribes and did not understand Khmer, making communication challenging, but we managed to communicate using ‘sign’ language and  visual cues. We also had  Ms Deborah’s help, who ably assisted us with the workflows and also in the supervision of medicines to the students. While adjusting to the unaccustomed heat, the timing of lunch, where we could join the school principal and his staff, and the sunsetting in late afternoons, gave us a cool respite. The communal lunch cooked with local village produce was interesting, and the bits of conversation at the table added joy to simply knowing that we were all fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Towards the closing of the day, my young helpers played football with the children and going by the chuckles, smiles and display of everyone’s fancy footwork, there was certainly great bonding and the start of team PKH!

The PKH Aoral centre carries out industrial skills training for youths, and over here, our team carried out a medical health screening for students, teachers and staff. The students were in late teens and early 20s so unlike the children at Trang, they presented other problems, such as adolescent skin problems and infections, and common respiratory complaints. We also carried out a health education talk on personal hygiene and basic infection prevention measures. The youths were attentive and the question and answer session was vibrant. We were touched by the hospitality of Lawrence and Lynn, and also the kindness of the other staff, like the cook, Chenda who prepared special dish of fish on our last night! We were privileged to visit Chbarmorn and see centre’s  setup and the courses there. With Ms Susan’s friendly narrative, we learnt about the history of PKH at Chbarmorn and how it has developed over the years. Many graduands have started their vocational lives successfully, with some starting their own families. I was glad to learn the alumnus is strong and many had come to know Christ while staying at the centre.

What has definitely left an impression on us? Definitely, the warmth and earnest gratitude that the Cambodian people- students and staff alike- exuded. Away from the comfort-seeking, entertainment-addicted desires of Singapore society, their hearts were full of gratefulness and thanksgiving. Medical checkups were responded to by clasping of hands and heartfelt mutterings of ‘thank you’ (in Khmer). Our ‘hellos’ to them were reciprocated to by shy greetings, humble nodding of heads, and bashful warm smiles. Even the small, almost thoughtless, giving of balac wood sticks to some young children, for them to draw on as they awaited their checkup, were received with palpable excitement. Truly, their actions and words were outflows of their heart: hearts that were free of illusions of entitlement, and full of joy beyond their circumstances; hearts that realized how everything- from food, to health, to happiness, to life itself- were gifts of grace.

It is not by chance, nor by any merit, that we have the resources to give, or that we are in the position of giving. On the shoulders of giants who have labored and tilled the land of Cambodia with fervent effort, vision and prayer, stand all the work that is lovingly poured on Cambodia, of which we have been blessed to be a small part of. And truly, every single mite of all kinds, exists in the first place because of the grace first given with truth in full to us. Grace that has given freely to us the undeserving, that paid the sacrifice in full, and which now constrains us to pass it on.

Indeed, the 3 centres are reaching out and nurturing many young Cambodians with God’s love and may God continue to bless the work of PKH.

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Children waiting for the medical check-up at Trang Centre.

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School children in the clinic, Trang.

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Clinic in session.

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PKH Aoral youths at medical screening.

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Health education talk at Aoral Centre.

Teoh Mei Lin, Westin Goh, Wesford Goh

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Regards, PKHCambodia