Unity in Cambodia

In November 2012, eleven Year 11 students and three staff, completed a Mission trip in Cambodia. Lutheran World Mission in Singapore organised the trip for the team from Unity College, Murray Bridge, SA and joining us was a team from Singapore, Hong Kong, other Australians, as well as locals from Cambodia to make up one Mission team.

After a three hour bus trip to Melbourne Airport, followed by a nine hour overnight flight to Hong Kong and a two hour flight to Phnom Penh, we finally arrived in Cambodia. Then a two hour bus ride from the Phnom Penh Airport to the city of Kampong Chhnang. The last bus ride was a great way to introduce students to Cambodia; to see some of the sights of the countryside and gain an understanding of the traffic road rules (or lack of) that exist in Cambodia.

Then we were off to the Life Centre and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Phum Krus (Krus Village) for orientation in medical procedures, packing medicine and finding out what to expect over the following week. The Life Centre was alive and vibrant on Sunday for the Church Service in which the local pastor, Pastor Daniel, led the large congregation in worship. This congregation’s numbers have grown significantly since our previous visit in 2010.

After Church, it was time for the first medical clinic. Students and staff from Unity College were involved in a number of roles including: preparing patients for the doctors (taking temperatures and blood pressure), crowd control, entertaining the village children with games and songs, and the distribution of medicine for the sick. Many Cambodian villagers were gifted with the opportunity to see a doctor and to receive the aid they needed.

We spent our second day at the Life Centre conducting various medical and ministry services for the local people of Krus Village. This was a very rewarding day, which was finished by playing a game with the local children that required lots of energy.

On our third day we visited a village called Chreybak, where we began with a visit to local families, to deliver food packs. These packs contained rice, sauces and other foods, and were given to the poorest families in the village. This was a real eye-opener for the students, giving them a sense of what poverty means and how villagers live day to day. It was fantastic to see the joy that this could bring to families in Cambodia and to receive a warm welcome from the locals despite being complete strangers to them. After the food visitations, we enjoyed a boat ride along the Tonle Sap River. This boat ride showed students and staff the floating villages that exist along the river, where people live and conduct their daily lives.

Later, back at Chreybak, we were joined by a team from Hong Kong, including three more doctors and four dentists. Students and staff from Unity College continued their many roles within the medical mission and some students had the opportunity to assist within the dental clinic, which was a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

Our fourth day, was a full day of medical and dental clinics at Chreybak. This was an extremely busy day with many villagers keen to see a doctor (they were, however, a little less keen to see the dentist). There are many amazing stories from this day which highlight the teamwork and commitment of all involved and the people of Chreybak were certainly appreciative of all our efforts.

The next day was another medical and dental mission in a different village, Tropaeng Trach; a much poorer village than those previously visited. The morning was spent trying to get as many people as possible in to see a doctor or dentist. The clinic was only conducted in the morning as the team from Hong Kong were returning to Phnom Penh that night. In the afternoon, the students were able to visit families from the village and deliver food packages. In the evening, some students and staff ventured down to the city centre of Kampong Chhnang, which was a very vibrant place, full of stalls, shops and outdoor activities.

Our last day was spent travelling back to Phnom Penh. While awaiting our night time flight, students and staff went shopping at the Central Markets, had lunch in a fantastic restaurant and finished the day with a visit to the Genocide Museum. The Museum was the place of many atrocities by Pol Pot and his regime. This was a very tough experience for both students and staff after spending a week with such beautiful people.

Overall, the medical mission enabled more than 800 people the opportunity to see a doctor or dentist within the week. The impact of this mission on the villagers, cannot be fully explained, but for some of these people it was their first chance to visit a doctor or dentist in many years (especially in Tropaeng Trach village). The value of a journey like this cannot be measured in monetary terms; all participants will fondly remember their time and experiences.

If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/