Students' Take: Helping to build a future for Cambodians

Project Songkeum’s yearly visits continue to bear fruit in the remote villages

By Ryan Gwee, Class of 2023

In July 2019, 18 of us from project Songkeum travelled to Siem Reap in Cambodia for our annual community involvement project. We were warmly greeted by our partner organisation, Build Your Future Today Center. Through them, we learnt a lot about the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975-1979; it truly shed light on the purpose of our project and gave us a deeper appreciation of the Cambodian people's plight.

We visited four different schools in rural villages about two hours from the city over the course of the trip. Prior to visiting the schools, we had a tour of Kantout Health Center which served the villagers. We were heartened to learn that heavily subsidised healthcare was available. However, the medical centre was quite a distance away from the villages and inconvenient to get to.

A visit to the Kantout Health Center which provides subsidised healthcare for the villagers

To our surprise, we even witnessed a birth on a cart in the open air; something we would never get to see in Singapore.

Upon arriving at the villages, we were so touched by how warmly we were received. The students welcomed us enthusiastically, sang songs and even joined us for a game of catching. We came to spread love but we had received it even before we had the chance to show it. We taught the children basic knowledge such as the importance of brushing teeth and drinking clean water.

For the adults, we covered topics such as hypertension and the importance of safe sex. We felt that this would be sustainable as knowledge can easily spread from individual to individual for many years to come. We were pleasantly surprised to see them absorb the lessons quickly and were happy to know that they found them meaningful.

Teaching the students how to brush their teeth

We also conducted health screenings which helped to detect potential health complications so as to alert the villagers to visit the health centre for follow-up.

Apart from our time in the villages, we also taught the staff at our partner organisation video-editing and photography skills. Our trip has been so fulfilling and we are excited to return to Cambodia with new ideas and lessons to better help them.