Changing Cambodia 2017 – 2018

Silent, that’s always been a part of me. I was never a person who likes to speak. Ever since I was young, I was a shy-introverted kid who got a list of things that I wanted to, which included helping my country. Sometimes, I even feel like it safer and more comfortable not to speak up. However, the thoughts about things I wanted to do are always stuck in my mind.

After joining Rabies in Cambodia, Solar Pi and volunteering for Khmer Sight Foundation projects, I realized that I have to get out of my comfort zone in order to become a better change agent. By joining these projects, I had to overcome my introverted personality in order to become the best change agent I could be.

 

Rabies might not seem as a big deal in Cambodia. However, according to the research conducted by Pasteur Institute, had shown that there is actually greater death from rabies than malaria and dengue fever combined. The most common animals that contained the viruses in Cambodia are dogs and cats. Nevertheless, in order to spread the awareness of this aggressive disease, our team were working with Phnom Penh Animals Welfare Society (PPAWS), Pasteur Institute, and Animals Rescue Cambodia (ARC).

During mid-January and start of Feburary, our exploration was working with PPAWS and ARC to hold events in Mondulkiri and two pagodas nearby our school. For these events, we provided free injections and dissecting for the pets. Throughout the two-day-long event at Mondulkiri, we got over a hundred of animals injected and dissected. While the one-day-long event at the two pagodas got 179 dogs and cats injected. Besides giving free vaccines, we had prepared short presentations about rabies that included our knowledge and the awareness of rabies that we gathered throughout this 7-week long project to the villagers.

 

This is my second time being apart of the project called, “STEM Activities in Cambodian Secondary Schools Using Solar Powered Computer Labs.” If you entered a coffee shop, you’ll see people busy with their technology devices. If you visited international schools, you’ll see students focusing on their laptops. Yes! You can see technology devices everywhere. However, although Cambodia is now developing in technology field, not all Cambodians have access to it–those who live in the rural areas. Throughout this project, we are hoping to successfully installed two computer labs–one run by solar power, while one run by electricity.

Recently, we have installed the electric-powered computer lab in a school that located outskirt of Phnom Penh. Now, the lab has already been using by 245 students. Another lab will be finished installing in the near future. These computer labs curriculums included English literacy–which we are using Edemy program. The other two included FreeCAD that is a 3D design program, while Scratch is a basic coding program which is good for the beginners that are new to programming.

By installing these labs, we are hoping for more access to technology for Cambodia’s students. This project will introduce the students to new type of learning curriculums such as 3D design and coding that are not known by a majority of Cambodians. Nevertheless, it will give the students extra knowledge and experiences about computer, which is one of the big advantages for them to apply to university or college. Our team believes we can use technology to empower young Cambodians to their full potentials.  

 

Earlier this school year, a few senior students and I had volunteered a day to help Khmer Sight Foundation (KSF). Basically, KSF is a program that is trying to help old-blind people who cannot afford to get their eyes’ surgery done.  Free surgeries are provided by KSF and were held in one private hospital in Phnom Penh.

Throughout the whole day of checking up with the patients, we got a chance to bring some of the serious patients to Phnom Penh and got their eyes surgeries. Rather than brought them to hospital and leave, we were there the whole time staying by their side until the surgeries done.

Although they got this free surgery, I know that somehow they were feeling nervous as well as excited about how they will view the world differently. Luckily, all of the surgeries for the patients were going well and I was so glad to be a part of the changes.

 

Throughout these projects; rabies vaccinations, installing computer labs and volunteering for KSF, it made me became a better change agent. Furthermore, I hope that these projects would not only be the lives changing moments for the people that I was working with me. Besides, I hope it would help to improve their lives in certain ways. One thing that I realized is that you had to overcome your fear or get out of your comfort zone in order to be a better change agent.

 

Solar Pi | Installing Electric-Powered Computer Lab

After the electricians finished with the wiring of the lab, it is time for our team to finish it up. On the 19th of May, 2018, eight of our teammates had been to the Toul Brasat Sen Sol High School to install the computers and training the teachers and the students. 

As a member of the installation team, my role was to set up the monitors as well as connecting the necessary wires. Most of the time there, I was setting up the screens, connecting them with the Raspberry Pi and finally test the screens whether they are working or not. During the testing process, we had found that a few of computers are not working well because of the broken cables and there are so many mouses that are not working.  Due to the short amount of time, we eventually had to fix it later. 

Although there were so many obstacles from the installation, this lab will be using as soon as it finished. In addition, this lab will be used by 245 high school students. Nevertheless, by installing this lab our team are hoping to see more interests from Cambodians in technology field. 

 

VAGABOND

In Liger, each student would have a very busy schedule and we have to work hard everyday to keep our activities progressing. Nevertheless, as we are now still growing we easily feel pressured, stressed and tired. To make us feel more relaxed, Liger had given this opportunity to the senior cohort to join vagabond at Vagabond Temple in Kampot, Cambodia. On the selected Thursday, Liger would send a small group of seniors to the place to join the meditation, yoga classes and experience this amazing opportunity. The latest team that had to go, was my team.

The first time I stepped into this place, I eventually feel so relaxed with the quiet calm and green environment. I also noticed that there are many different nationalities of the participants as well, who would mostly stay for a few days or up to months as community members. Throughout the day, we would have around six classes that we need to attend which include yoga, meditation and sharing sections. The schedule is the same for everyday, except on Sunday where we have some options to choose. Moreover, the available food is vegan food.

Besides having classes to make us feel more relax and love ourselves more, Liger’s students are also networking with the other participants. I remembered one of the sections where Liger’s students taught the other participants about Khmer Dances and sharing our original poem written by Vornsar about what we had learned so far in Vagabond Temple. Nevertheless, I remembered that a few of us had also taught the kids there about frisbee and playing frisbee at Kep beach with the other participants.

Going through this experience, I realized that it might seem boring at first because all we do was meditating and doing yoga. However, once we started to talk to other people there, we might know some amazing things about them and the classes that we’re taking won’t be bored like what we thought anymore.

 

 

Independence Discovery | Cambodia’s Arts

Unlike my other independence discoveries (ID), this round I focused more on Cambodia’s arts. This round I still focused on doodlings and pencil drawings but with Cambodian culture and traditional included. Since I have never done this concept before, it took awhile to used to it.

At the beginning of this ID, I wasn’t sure what type of picture would I like to draw and doodle. I started to look at a bunch of references such as looking at Cambodian doodler’s Instagram (Chhoun Vicheka and Visoth Kakvei). Later on, I got this idea where I would have Preah Prohm as the center of the sketch in pencil drawing and traditional doodle styles around. Due to its details on the doodlings, it took me so much time doing this piece. My second idea was a comparison between Cambodia’s past and present buildings. However, due to the short amount of time I have, I couldn’t finish this piece.

Throughout this independence discovery, I realized that next time I should start with small ideas or pieces of the drawings. Nevertheless, I should have been more prepared and organized my thoughts before the class start so that I would have more time to focus on the drawings.

Grizzly Open 2018 | Bee Force

In Liger, we had so many opportunities whether in the country or overseas. Additionally, those opportunities had led me to travel to many provinces in Cambodia already, but I haven’t got to go to any other country yet. By joining an all-girls frisbee training, Bee Force, I got this amazing chance which allowed me to travel to Malaysia. 

To get this opportunity, it required me and my teammates a lot of work and effort. Every Sunday morning, we would wake up early and go to train with our two coaches, Jared and Romina. The coaches will be keeping track of our performance in the game every week so we had to work even harder every week. After survival weeks of training, the coaches finally choosing the players to join an ultimate frisbee competition, Grizzly Open 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There were about 21 players who had chosen and I was so glad that I was one of them.

Our Liger’s girls who got selected from the training.

Grizzly Open 2018 is an ultimate frisbee competition that allows many teams from different countries to compete by their gender. The competition were on the 17th and 18th of March and it was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This year was the first time that Cambodia team have been participating in this competition. Most of the members of the team were their first time being in a big competition like this just like me. So, we were so nervous once we saw the other players from other teams. However, as a team, we were trying to encourage each other to think positive so that we would do well on the field. 

For this two days tournament, Bee Fore got 6 games to play with other female groups. On our first game, we had won by 7:3 and it was the time that Cambodia team won a frisbee game. Unfortunately, for our next 5 games, we couldn’t win. However, we were all happy and enjoy the games. Moreover, we were trying our best and give our 100% effort in the games. In addition, we got to meet so many good people who were helping us to improve and encouraging us to even work harder. 

Besides enjoying the tournament, I also enjoy other activities that we did such as going to the mall and swimming. Nevertheless, I love seeing the differences and similarities between my own country and Malaysia. While traveling to the field for the games I can see how clean Malaysia’s environment and I rarely see any rubbish. Also, Malaysians were so friendly and respectful, especially to us who don’t know anything about Malaysia. 

It was my first being outside the country. Although I feel a bit uncomfortable at first being a foreigner in their country, I was glad to get that new experience. Moreover, I am very thankful for my teammates, coaches, and learning facilitator that had created a very meaningful memory and give me a lot of courage. 

This is our Cambodia team with our coach.

Zoonotic in Cambodia | Pagodas Mission

Public Health is my 3rd exploration of this year. As I mentioned earlier in the last post, our team were mainly focusing on rabies and as well as other zoonotic diseases (a disease that human can get from animals). At the very start of our exploration we were focused on one report which talking about salmonella disease and how does it spread. There are so many ways of spreading the disease such as through transportation, flights, and direct contacts.

Later on in class, we had our main focus which was about “Rabies in Cambodia”. Rabies is one the most dangerous diseases in Cambodia but the majority of our population does not know about it. Moreover, there are about 800 people died every year from rabies which is more than dengue fever and malaria combined. Moreover, as Pasteur Institute had tested the dog’s heads, 50% of those dogs contain rabies virus.

There are so many ways to decrease rabies in our country, one of those were vaccinating the dogs. On 7th of February, our team had worked with Animal Rescue Cambodia (ARC) to held a vaccination event in two pagodas in our communities. Before the event happens, our team had to talk to the head monks of both pagodas and the village chiefs for the permission. Luckily, we were accepted to make this event happen. A few days before the event started, we have to bike around the communities and hand out the flyers that contain the information about the events to the villagers.

The educational poster about the treatments for your wound after the bite was being used in the event to show the villagers.

In the morning until noon, we were doing the vaccination in Chompuk Kaek Pagoda and it was very successful because we got over a hundred of dogs and cats vaccinated. While in the afternoon, we were not really successful doing the vaccination in another pagoda called, “Koh Krobey Pagoda.” So, we decided to go to the houses and get the dogs and cats vaccinated. During the vaccination, we have to take the pictures of the dogs with their microchip code. Microchip basically is a number that determines whether the dogs and cats had the vaccination yet or not. By the end of the day, there were 167 dogs and cats got to vaccinate.

 

To me, this is one of biggest achievements of this year where I got to do this simple thing for my communities. Moreover, we do not actually know whether those pets contain the virus or not. However, if the pets have the virus and bite humans we can actually save their life from getting this aggressive virus. Lastly, although there are a few difficulties during the mission and exploration classes, I’m really proud of myself as well as my classmates for doing these memorable memories and helping our communities together.

Zoonotic in Cambodia | Rabies Event at Mondulkiri

I am currently in Public Health exploration which mainly confusing on rabies. In Cambodia, rabies mostly comes from dogs and cats. As the research showed, there are around 5 million dogs in Cambodia and about 50% of those contain rabies virus. This means that if you got bitten by a dog you will have a 50% chance of getting rabies. Most importantly, the deaths from rabies in Cambodia are greater than dengue fever and malaria combined. Even though rabies is one of the health issues in our country, not many people know about it and not many people taking action to stop it from spreading.

To prevent rabies from expanding, our exploration had collaborated with an organization called, “Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS)” and held an event at Mondulkiri. The two main focuses of the event are trying to get many dogs/cats as possible to receive vaccination and dissecting. Besides focusing on the animals, we were also trying to get people to know more about rabies and the awarenesses. In order to achieve this goal, our group had divided into many small teams to walk around the area and telling the villagers and remind them to get their dogs/cats vaccinated and if they want they can do dissecting.

I was so glad that I was on this trip because there are so many incredible things that I have never seen before. One of those things is looking at the whole process of dissecting the animals as well as giving the animal’s vaccine. Although it was scary to see the surgery, I manage to do it because I think it was a good opportunity where not many get to see something cool like this.

Sea Festival

On the 23rd and 24th of December last year, I had been joined an incredible opportunity which was Sea Festival that was celebrating at Kep. 11 Liger’s seniors and I were going as the frisbee players with many adults and teenagers.

The scheduling of the trip had changed rapidly, so we have to be flexible most of the time.  On the 23rd, we have been playing in the after around 3PM until late evening. Then we start to play again (team against team) until late night. On the next day, we were starting the game in the morning around 8AM until 12PM. Moreover, it was my first time joining a Beach Frisbee Ultimate, so running on the sand and playing the game under the hot sun was difficult. Also, it was hard for the other players too, but we all manage to do well until the end of the trip. 

Out of all the players, Liger’s students were on the youngest and yet we did not get to practice much. However, we played really well during the tournament between the 4 teams that had been created. We received a lot of good compliments about our skill and as well as our responsibilities during the trips. Personally, even though the trip was really tiring but I really enjoyed it. So, if there any other opportunities like this I would love to join. 

 

Bike Experience Exploration – Journeys of Change

My second exploration of this is year Bike Experience, which we named it later on as Journeys of Change. The goal of this seven weeks long project is to turn this idea of running a bike tour into a successful business. Moreover, the bike route will contain the theme of change that occurs in Cambodia as it mentioned in our business name, Journeys of Change. Mission: Our mission is to share insights into the lives of everyday Cambodians by creating a tour for visitors and locals, of the Phnom Penh area. The tour will focus on explaining the changes that have occurred and are occurring in this country, while simultaneously supporting local businesses, being environmentally conscious,  training tour guides in responsible tourism, providing cross-cultural exchanges, and creating job opportunities for Liger students to help further and fund their education, after high school.

Our team members.

In order to start this business, our team has divided into three smaller teams that were working on a different part of this business. For me, I was working as a business plan member, that focused on writing the report about the whole idea about this business and to keep it organized. Also, I’ve been working on calculating the expense and decide how much I charge our client per tour and how can we the money. Most importantly, my team had created a lot of forms and documents such as liability waiver, feedback system, and three job descriptions (tour guide, office director, and marketing manager).  

Another team was the tour guides, which they were focusing on the stops for our bike route as well as design training course for the additional 20 tour guides. Moreover, after the finished finalizing the stops, they will need to write the script for each stop in order to make it easy for the trainee guides to summarize. 

Our last team was marketing. In this team, they were trying to use many ways to advertise our bike tours. At the end our exploration, they had created a website and a Facebook page. Additionally, they were trying to partner with some of the hotels by the riverside of Phnom Penh, which is close by our starting point for our bike tour. 

Since we were trying to turn this project into a real business, we had hired our office director and marketing manager to keep track of our progress. Also, all of the students that involved in this exploration will be our official tour guides and we will have 20 more tour guides coming soon. 

 

Our first tour with finalized stops. 

Battambang trip: At the start of this exploration, we’ve been to Battambang for our one week trip. During this trip, we got to learn from one bike tour company, Soksabike who is our mentor. We learned almost everything about their business which gave us so many ideas of our how our bike experience should be.  

Collision Simulation Lab

The new topic that we’re focusing on is momentum. My facilitator, Sam, had first explained and gave us a general idea what is momentum. Then, she gets in-depth where she gave us the formula and do some examples problems. Moreover, we had also do a simple lab on the first day which is mainly focused on objects colliding and the momentum of each object.