SINGAPORE – “Giving Hope” – a six-day mission trip to Cambodia by a team of 33, mostly parishioners of Church of St. Francis of Assisi (SFA), was led by Father John Lau, SFA parish priest. This was Father Lau’s fourth visit to Cambodia since 2004 and the second time he had brought parishioners along. Last year, 18 of them went on the trip.
We had the opportunity during our trip from Feb 12-17 to visit St. John’s Church, two floating churches – Chong Khnies and Prek Toal and two villages – Piek Sucing and Taom in Siem Reap.
It was heartrending to see the neglected and poorest of the poor which we never imagined existed. Some of us were almost brought to tears to see children in soiled clothes that never seemed to have been washed for ages. Some were naked.
The 700 children, though very excited to see the goodies bags, were disciplined and joined patiently in the queue to collect their share. They had a rare treat to a bowl each of delicious porridge whilst being entertained by our group. For this year, each of them also received a new pair of shorts or skirt which was sewn by volunteers in our parish. Their smiles made most of us wish we could give more of our time and love to them.
The distribution of provision to the poor families was made possible with the help of the local lay missionary workers who bought the necessary items for us and the group did the packing according to the needs of the community.
Fundraising was done at SFA from October 2008 to February this year. We collected a total amount of S$18,500, cash donations from well wishers and the group’s sale of home-made pineapple tarts, kueh lapis and other items the parishioners had donated for this cause. This amount paid for all the provision for the poor, the goodies for the children and a donation to the Education Fund and the new learning centre.
The spontaneous feedback from the group was no surprise, that the Lord has opened their eyes, opened their ears and opened their hearts to see Him in the poor. They pledge to serve and love the poor whether abroad or at home.
We thank God for guiding us all the way from the initial fundraising to our safe return back to Singapore.