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Cambodia 2007   MacKillop Catholic College
                Cambodia Trip Report July 2007
                During the July holidays, seven students, two      of poverty that some Cambodian people are
                teachers and two support staff from MacK-          living in.
                illop Catholic College spent a total of 10 days
                                                                   “One of the highlights of the trip was the way
                in Cambodia for an experience that will be re-     that the students spent time with the disabled
                membered for the rest of their lives.              children and those with AIDS. They reached out
                The trip was far from a sight seeing holiday       with love to these children and the children re-
                giving students valuable insights about a          ally responded. It was a great blessing.” Jean
                third-world country struggling to emerge           Galipo (teacher)
                from the grip of oppression and poverty. Stu-      “One of the best parts of the trip experience was
                dents gained first hand experience of a cul-        how well we connected with the children, de-
                tural different to their own and one that can-     spite language differences.” Carly Marsh (stu-
                not be matched by any class based activity.        dent)
                They also gained an understanding of what it       The trip helped us to understand that people are
                means to live in a privileged part of the world    the same where ever you go. The children enjoy
                and not see the reality of poverty and mate-       the same fun things that we do.” Emily Verstee-
                rial deprivation on a daily basis.                 gen (student)
                While in Phnom Penh (capital), the group           After visiting Cambodia, it helps you appreci-
                spent time interacting with the children and       ate the standard of hospital care, housing and
                people at the following places:                    roads that we have in Australia.” Rose Taylor
                • La Valla which is a Marist Brother school        (student)
                  for children with disabilities.                  “The visit to the Killing Fields and tip was a pret-
                • New Hope for Cambodian Children                  ty sobering experience.” Matthew Byrne (stu-
                  (NHCC) which is a project associated with        dent).
                  Maryknoll, the U.S. based Catholic Mission,      “The trip helped us appreciate the quality of life
                  and deals with orphans with AIDS.                that we have in Australian.” Georgia Kirsop
                • Hagar International’s House of Smiles            (student)
                  which is a residential care facility for chil-   Students attending the trip were Matthew
                  dren with disabilities.                          Byrne, Tomas Hoban, Sophie Kirkham, Geor-
                Students and staff interacted with children        gia Kirsop, Carly Marsh, Rose Taylor, and Em-
                from the above places through general play,        ily Versteegen.
                dancing, singing, sport, face painting, language   All the students agreed that it was an enrich-
                exchange and companionship. One of the high-       ing experience and that they would want to
                lights of the trip involved taking the children    return to Cambodia.
                from Hagar International’s House of Smiles on
                                                                   The trip’s teachers were Jean Galipo and Erin
                a day trip to the beach at Sihanouk Ville.
                                                                   Rolfe. Support staff were Alan Christian and
                Apart from providing support visits to the         Andrew Wilson.
                above places, the group also visited Siem Reap
                                                                   Over the past year, the MacKillop Catholic
                and the temples of Angkor, the National Mu-
                                                                   College community, supported by various
                seum and Gardens, the Killing Fields in Phnom
                                                                   people, businesses and organisations within
                Penh and the tip in Phnom Penh. These visits
                                                                   the wider community, has been involved in
                provided much information about Cambo-
                                                                   raising funds for humanitarian projects in
                dia’s history while a boat ride along the Tonle
                                                                   both East Timor and Cambodia. The Cambo-
                Sap gave students insight on how people live
                                                                   dia trip, along with past trips to East Timor, are
                along the river.
                                                                   part of the College’s outreach commitment to
                Another place that the group visited was the       raising awareness of issues such as poverty
                tip in Phnom Penh which portrayed the level        and justice.
                Student Reports

Cambodia 2007   Following are abridged articles from students.

                                                                   who were to poor to take care of them.
                                                                   As I looked up on the wall I noticed a picture
                                                                   of Bill Clinton with a small child. John Tucker
                                                                   explained that Clinton had visited the centre
                                                                   last year. We soon mingled with the children
                As soon as we landed in Phnom Penh airport,        who fell in love with our digital cameras and
                we became aware that it was nothing like we        balloons. A group of us were taken to the sec-
                had imagined. Obviously, the thing that we         ond story of the building where we saw wom-
                had been told, like the heat, smell and people,    en (who also had AIDS) making small quilts
                were all there. The whole atmosphere is very       which will be sent to the United States and
                different to what we have in Australia.            sold for $50 to raise money for the institution.
                Driving down the streets for the first time was     It was soon time to go to another New Hope
                like flicking through the pages of a book or        building, just a short drive down the road,
                magazine. There were so many images and            which was for older children, around six to
                things to take in and they were gone as soon       thirteen years. These children were just as
                as you blinked.                                    happy to meet us.
                The heat is nothing like we have back home, it     In this group there was a girl, who could speak
                is hot and humid all the time. We were there in    English quite well, called Tahwae. All too hap-
                their winter and it was hotter than our summer.    py to teach us Khmer, we soon became begin-
                The roads were chaotic with cars and loaded        ners in a very difficult language. Again, these
                mopeds scooting between one another. Sur-          children were entranced with our cameras
                prisingly, we only saw one accident between        along with the balloons and face paint that we
                2 mopeds.                                          had brought. We left with heavy hearts, think-
                The people that we came into contact with          ing that we would not see these kids again,
                were so friendly, they couldn’t have made us       but two days later we went to the New Hope
                feel any more at home.                             village where we saw several familiar faces.
                                                                   The NHCC village was under construction
                Sophie Kirkham
                                                                   and near completion when we visited. It is
                                                                   designed to be self sufficient and make life
                                                                   easier for the children and mothers. It is a fair
                New Hope for                                       way out from Phnom Penh which allows them
                                                                   to grow crops and raise pigs. Again, we played
                Cambodian Children                                 with the children, enjoying balloons in the
                                                                   strong breeze and universal children games.
                New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC)
                                                                   We returned to the older children’s building
                was our first personal experience with the
                                                                   where we were happily recognised. After an
                people (more so the children) of Cambodia
                                                                   hour and a half of socialising it was time for us
                and what an amazing experience it was.
                                                                   to return to Spring Guest House and say our
                It was our first day after arriving in Cambo-       final farewells to these wonderful children
                dia and we were still unaccustomed to all the      who did not appear phased by their prob-
                sights. As we entered in to the ordinary look-     lems. They waved to us until we disappeared.
                ing building two little children came running
                up to us and gave each of us a huge embrace        Tomas Hoban
                while shouting in ecstatic Khmer (which none
                of us could understand) and smiling with pure
                happiness to meet us. After we overcame this       Sala LaValla
                greeting we looked around and noticed ten
                or so other children, none of them above five       LaValla is a school for physically and intellec-
                years old, looking at us. John Tucker, an Ameri-   tually disabled children aged 8 to 22 years. It
                can in charge of NHCC, explained the nature of     costs as little as $110, 000 US to run the en-
                the place. New Hope helps orphaned children        tire school for a year. Students stay for three
                with AIDS or children with AIDS from families      years and complete grades one to six, doing
                Student Reports continued

Cambodia 2007   two grades per year. The school is run by the
                Marist Brothers. Most students live on campus
                while others are picked up every morning by
                the brothers. All students go home for the
                                                                      Siem Reap
                                                                      On the second Monday of our journey, we took
                                                                      a short break from visiting children to travel
                                                                      by aeroplane to Siem Reap, better known as
                It was on our third day in Cambodia that we           Angkor. Siem Reap is a northern province,
                arrived at Sala LaValla to be greeted by stu-         famous for being one of the settings of the
                dents from a grade six class. They were so
                                                                      movie Tomb Raider.
                happy to see us as they grabbed our hands
                and dragged us off to show us their school.           After liaising with the airlines, we landed from a
                There was three or four of them leading us            plane ride and were instantly immersed in the
                around as we went to classrooms and said              beauty of the province. Unlike Phnom Penh
                ‘Hello’. We were repeatedly asked three main          the streets appeared much cleaner and it was
                questions: what is your name?, where are you          a peaceful break from the chaos of the city.
                from? and how many brothers and sisters do            It was here we visited the famous temples of
                you have?                                             Angkor, which amazed us with their sheer size
                At recess time, students raced to play basket-        and age. It was truly like something out of a
                ball or volleyball. Even though they were phys-       dream. The temples were surrounded by mys-
                ical or intellectually disabled, they all joined in   tical trees and serene atmosphere. We even
                the fun and games. We said goodbye after re-          met a couple of elephants along the way. As
                cess and headed off to speak with Father Terry,       we explored the temples we came across
                the brother in charge of LaValla. He allocated        small shrines and offerings, hidden amongst
                jobs for us to help around the school. Some of        the buildings, and we were given blessings of
                us dusted and sorted posters while the rest           red thread and burning of incense to offer to
                washed and sanded library shelves.                    Buddha. The temples were several thousands
                At lunch we were each seated at a separate ta-        of years old, all amazingly hand carved and
                ble with four or five children per table. The food     built for ancient Cambodian kings.
                tasted good and our group was given a plate of        We climbed to the top of the famous Angkor
                dragon fruit. They were so giving and kind.           Watt temple and met modern-day monks. The
                It was time to play again and so we headed            view from the temple was magnificent and
                for the basketball courts again. After lunch we       overlooked the vast green landscape of this
                returned to a couple of classes where the kids        hidden wonderland. That evening we stayed
                showed us their work and sang songs for us.           in a large and very empty hotel, where we
                Then the hour finally came, time for a swim!           had one of our first dinners that didn’t con-
                They all ran off excitedly to get changed. All        tain rice!
                the children went in. The children without            Early the next morning we journeyed back to
                legs could still swim and all were having fun.        Phnom Penh via boat on the Tonle Sap river.
                We didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to          We were confronted with the extent of pov-
                swim with these wonderful children but only           erty on the way to the dock, seeing large fami-
                Carly, Matt and Sophie had their bathers. They
                                                                      lies living in tiny shacks on the banks of a very,
                loved the same games we do, diving for a coin
                                                                      very brown river.
                and seeing who could hold their breath the
                                                                      A boat trip, that we were told would only take
                                                                      4 hours, ended up being about 7 hours. How-
                After the swim was over it was time for us to
                                                                      ever, it was quite relaxing just to sit, or in some
                depart. It was extremely sad and a couple of
                                                                      cases sleep, in the sun and watch this beauti-
                the girls cried. They had drawn some pictures
                                                                      ful country pass us by.
                and made something crafty for us.
                Matthew Byrne                                         Georgia Kirsop
                Student Reports continued

Cambodia 2007   Hagar House of Smiles
                The House of Smiles is a branch of Hagar In-
                ternational which cares for disabled children,
                providing some facilities for education and
                                                                     Last Day
                                                                     On our last day in Cambodia, the 18th of July,
                                                                     our group visited the Phnom Penh rubbish
                physical therapy. Our small group of MacK-           I think we were all expecting rubbish tips like
                illop students and staff were honoured to be         the ones we have in Australia – mostly clean
                able to fund and participate in a trip to the        and organised. This was nothing like that. We
                coast with the 52 children from the House.           almost got bogged on the way in, the track
                                                                     was just mud. When we got back, Heang’s (our
                It was roughly a 4 hour drive to the coast
                                                                     driver) car desperately needed a clean.
                from Phnom Penh. We first encountered the
                                                                     The reason we went to the rubbish tip was
                children as they piled off the huge bus they
                                                                     to deliver cartons of soy milk to the people
                were travelling in - often 3 to a seat. We all had
                                                                     who live there. It’s incomprehensible to think
                lunch together before the fun really started as
                                                                     that people actually live there – imagine what
                we reached our hotel, a mere 200 meters from
                                                                     would happen if people lived in rubbish tips in
                the beach. The excitement of the children, and
                                                                     Australia! This was the day when the poverty
                even their carers and family (who had come
                                                                     of Cambodia was really thrust in our faces. We
                along), was something to see!
                                                                     had never seen any houses like it – basic to
                We all joined in with many beach games over          say the least. They were made of four wooden
                the weekend including; pass the marble with          poles and a piece of tarp for the roof to ac-
                chopsticks and the infamous tiger and cow,           commodate a family of four. We stopped the
                much like the Western game cat-and-mouse.            van in the middle of piles and piles of rubbish.
                The incredible thing was that the children’s         Sarin (our guide) had advised us not to get
                disabilities never got in the way. Some were         out of the van for safety reasons.
                hearing impaired, some with cerebral palsy
                                                                     Heang got out of the van to hand out the soy
                and others suffering the effects of polio.
                                                                     milk and in the space of about 30 seconds
                It was also amazing to see how great every-          he was surrounded by a mass of people. Ev-
                one looked, as all the children and accompa-         eryone you could imagine, mothers, babies
                nying adults turned out in their Sunday best         young children were running towards him
                every day - even to swim in!                         – all for a container of soy milk. Everyone was
                I was an incredible experience, being with the       obviously dressed in whatever they could find
                children and treating them all to such a spe-        at the tip as most people’s clothes were far
                cial weekend. We all made many new friends           too big for them. It’s unfathomable to see that
                and forged memories we will never forget.            something as small and meaningless to us as
                We reunited with he children of the House of         soy milk was an absolute luxury and treat for
                Smiles a the centre of Phnom Penh on one of          them. I was surprised to see that the soy milk
                our last days. Not all of the children were there    box packaging seemed just as valuable as the
                but, needless to say, karaoke and general fun        soy milk itself!
                ensued!                                              This was by far the most confronting day of
                A few of our most adoring fans came to fare-         our entire trip. I think you have to see it first
                well us at Phnom Penh airport and it felt that       hand to become aware of how so many peo-
                the time had gone too quickly. The beach             ple in the world live.
                weekend and other good times had with                When you see people as impoverished as
                House of Smiles had really been a highlight          those in the rubbish tip at Cambodia you re-
                for me - an experience that has opened my            ally learn just how lucky you are to have so
                eyes and one I hope to long remember.                many wonderful luxuries. .

                Emily Versteegen                                     Rose Taylor
Cambodia 2007   Thank You
                MacKillop Catholic College wishes to thank
                the following organisations and individuals
                for generously giving to the Cambodia ven-
                ture for either:
                                                               • Stocker Preston
                                                               • Yallingup Gallery
                                                               • Zinns Liquor

                                                               All big thank you to all and anyone possi-
                                                               bly not mentioned above.
                • Donations for the Cambodian people or
                • Support towards the student’s travel ex-
                                                               Community Talks
                1. Staff and students of MacKillop Catholic
                   College                                     Students spoke and will be speaking at the
                                                               following places to share their experiences of
                2. Parishioners of                             Cambodia.
                • St. Joseph’s (Busselton)                     • MacKillop Catholic College whole school
                • Our Lady of the Bay (Busselton)                assembly.
                • Our Lady of the Southern Cross
                  (Dunsborough)                                • Busselton Rotary Club
                • St Thomas More (Margaret River)              • Lions Club of Dunsborough
                • Lumen Christi (Augusta)                      • Augusta, Busselton, Dunsborough and
                                                                 Margaret River Catholic churches
                3. Individual donors and all those members
                   of the public who supported the fundrais-   • ABC Morning Program (radio)
                   ing events in Busselton, Dunsborough
                   and Margaret River. Including those who
                   donated items for raffles
                   and sausage sizzles.

                4. Organisations, groups and individuals
                •   Augusta Bakery
                •   Bunnings Warehouse
                •   Busselton Senior High School students
                •   Coles Margaret River
                •   Commonwealth Bank
                •   Dunsborough Hardwares
                •   Dunsborough Professionals
                •   Dymocks
                •   Fusion Blue
                •   Hanlon Davies
                •   Jennings Hopkins
                •   Jones Middleton
                •   Kent Street Bakery
                •   Lions Clubs of Dunsborough
                •   M Beech Family
                •   MacKillop College Parents and Friends
                •   Margaret River Bakery
                •   Margaret River IGA
                •   Margaret River Venison
                •   Milc Homewares
                •   My Butcher Margaret River
                •   Peter May
                •   Quin’s Bakehouse
                •   Rotary Club of Busselton
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007
                Pictures from the Cambodia trip
Cambodia 2007

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