Reflections on the 2016 Cambodia Trip
From 2 to 12 January, I was fortunate to take part in the 2016 Oxley Christian College/ Samaritan’s Purse mission trip to Cambodia. This was such an amazing experience for everyone involved, and I am so happy to share with you my own journey and what I encountered while over there.
To start with, it was a massive culture shock when we first arrived. There were mopeds everywhere! Road laws did not seem as important over there as they are here, with people driving all over the road, having whole families on one moped and no helmets in sight. Already, we started to notice the difference between here and Cambodia and we had only been in the country for around an hour.
For me, one of the most impacting things was going to S21, or Tuol Sleng, and the Killing Fields. From 1975 – 1979, the Khmer Rouge campaign tore Cambodia apart with Pol Pot leading a mass genocide against all educated people, to reduce Cambodia to a nation based purely on agriculture. S21 was one of the torture prisons from this period, a school in the middle of Phnom Penh transformed into a jail. Atrocities occurred here and we were confronted with pictures of the inmates which seemed endless. Just walking into an interrogation room and seeing blackened stains on the ground and a massive dent in a metal bed only leads you to imagine what could have occurred.
The Killing Fields was our next stop following S21 and it too, was confronting to witness. Pits that once contained buried bodies, indents in the land from excavations, and a monument piled high with skulls, only displayed part of the horrific history of the area. One thing that struck me was how the lake nearby appeared so relaxing and pretty. It made me realise how, though something can look so happy and peaceful like Cambodia does now, it can disguise awful events from the past.
Throughout the trip, we saw different programs running to help the Cambodians achieve a better standard of living, such as Food for Life which is helping Cambodians to grow their own food and providing medical and maternity centres. For me, the best part was being with the kids. Several times throughout the trip we interacted with the children, such as at shoebox distributions, going to teach lessons, handing out water bottles, or just visiting and witnessing the work of Samaritan’s Purse like at Bos Thom. The children were so happy to spend time with us and it was so hard to say goodbye to them. Seeing them sing and dance along with us, having piggy-back rides and so on was an unbelievable experience. They had so little but were so happy and their smiles, well, they were the biggest and brightest smiles I had ever seen.
Witnessing the work that God has done through Samaritan’s Purse in Cambodia was wonderful. I could see how God was using this organisation to reach out to His people and to help them through their struggles. It showed me how God is always working in people’s lives, even if we don’t always recognise He is there and that no matter where we are or who we are, He is watching over us and He loves us.
I am so thankful for what I have in my life. I’m blessed to have been born in a wealthy country, to have a good education, to have food, water, shelter and to know that I have many opportunities to look forward to in my life. This trip has made me realise how fortunate I am to have what I have and I know that these memories of the trip will never leave me, but will help me to become a better person.
Samantha Radford – Year 12 Student