Mar 26, 2011

Cambodia Behind The Scene

The Cambodia Flag

Assalammualaikum w.b.t

Some people might said “where can only we found bless, peace and harmony only in the place we were born” my journey brought me to see the realm of life faced by many citizens in this bless kingdom. A place which I proud to share my 8 days journey with all the Sciencess community, Cambodia, a ‘Kingdom of Ancient Temples’.
Upon named, “IIUM Kuantan-Cambodia Humanitarian Mission”, this program aimed to help a minority Cambodian Muslim lived in Kg. Ambil in terms of many aspects of life. Almost 700 kilograms of aids which included clothes, books, women head scarf, medicines and many more donated from students, staff and IIUM lecturers were carried out for donation purposes.

Day 1-2: The Open Book

It takes an hour to arrived Cambodia capital city, Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur, LCCT by plane. When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by Ustaz Hassan Basri, a President of Cambodian Muslim Society in Cambodia with his 2 great assistants. We were being escorted by a Cambodia government official army and a TV reporter. From Phnom Penh it took 5 hours to arrive Kampung Cha, a small district located on the east of Cambodia. Here we stayed for one night in Mekong Hotel. This hotel located straight from the amazing view of Mekong River, the longest river in Southeast Asia. The sunset, the air, the smell of the red sands makes everything made sense. 

Back then, Kampung Cha small town look exactly like an independent era of Malaya in 1957. Lack of technologies and cyber, this district was like an abandoned town which left only the pieces of untouched building that were not much developed. 

The peoples here, they are so much affected by the bloody war occurred in 1974. The post war left unbearable memories that never fade away to them. It took many years to rebuild this nation again, to be the best Cambodian which they are before.

After staying 1 night in Mekong Hotel we were off to our next destination, which is Kampung Ambil. Our mission lied so much here. This is where our donation aids were segregated among the villagers who mostly single mothers, orphans, old women and men. From Kampung Cha we travelled for almost 4 hours to arrive here. The villagers were so cheerful, friendly and sweet. The women there were so small in size while the men were quite tall in height. 

We stayed for 5 days in Kampung Ambil. We lived for 4 nights in a home stay wooden house in this district. The house was so antique and simple, and yet the owner was so generous to all of us, preparing everything just to ease our tiredness.

Day 3-6: The Flavors of Life 

Staying in Kampung Ambil for 5 days really taught me many things. The humanitarian mission given were not only includes the circumcision session, segregating the donated items and giving the kids sweets, but there were more than that. I had a chance to teach the kids on how to brush their teeth properly, how to wash their hands, how to take care of their nails and toes, how to take a bath and how to wash their head, mainly on how to take care of self hygiene.

I realized for the first time, right in front of my two eyes why exactly that Islam and education must come along. It all really makes sense why the first revelation sent down to Prophet Muhammad SAW was ‘Iqra’. 

Without Islam we can’t really understand why education is important and without education we can’t really get the important meaning behind every Islamic principle.
The Muslims community here they are far behind in terms of education. The hardship made almost all the people lived here in Kampung Ambil own a stigma that education was not an important element of survivor. The highest education level is Madrasah, which is much more similar to what we call as religious school in secondary level in Malaysia. Here, Islam is practiced only by those people with knowledge. Otherwise, the rest it is like seeing Islam is being practiced in the blunt way.

Day 7-8: The Bon Voyage

My journey continued, after staying 5 days in Kampung Ambil we took the 5 hours journey to Phnom Penh and stayed in City Lux Hotel around the ancient city. We got the chance to walk around the city, shopping at the nearby mall, bargained around Phnom Penh Central Market and visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia

The site is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge communist regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Formerly the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, named after a Royal ancestor of King Norodum, the five buildings of the complex were converted in August 1975, and four months after the Khmer Rouge won the civil war, into a prison and interrogation center. The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex "Security Prison 21" (S-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates. 

The buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes. This is by what I mean that most Cambodians still shadowed with the painful memory of Pol Pot’s war. 

The last day of my stayed in Cambodia, was meaningful to me. To have the opportunity like this was really rare to find and get. I learned a lot. We departed from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur, LCCT at 8.15 in the morning and arrived at 9.30 am. Pictures were shared among us and the unfold memories were being told to the others so that this mission will stay alive.

Bon Voyage Cambodia.

Bon Voyage Cambodia