Building Enduring Friendships

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Anthony Mok helped instal water filters in a Cambodian village and found joy in the simplicity of village life.

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In September 2013, I registered as a volunteer with the Singapore International Foundation, joining eight other Singaporeans on a five-day trip to Cambodia to instal biosand water filters for villagers in Kampung Speu as part of SIF’s Water for Life project — it is aimed at improving the quality of life of people in rural areas through the provision of clean drinking water.

It was my maiden visit to Cambodia and also my first overseas trip where I got to do something meaningful.

In Kampung Speu, I witnessed the laid-back kampung spirit of the people there, where they made time for one another and took life a day at a time as it came.

I saw local children playing together in an open space. They were so carefree, laughing and just enjoying themselves. It was pure innocent joy — without the need for computer games. Watching them, it evoked the same emotion in me — joy.

In Singapore, we always talk about wanting to have a kampung spirit but we’re often rushing from one thing to another.

It’s ironic, but Singaporeans seem to be proud to have a packed agenda.

I also realised something — while technology gives the opportunity to make our lives more efficient, it also makes us busier! For example, we’re so engrossed with meeting work deadlines and clearing our work emails that we don’t spend enough time with our loved ones and our friends.

Investing time to be with others makes life meaningful. The best outcome of this trip was the friendships forged with the Singapore team members. We roughed it out for five days in Cambodia and we’re still keeping in close contact since. In fact, we’re planning another trip back to Cambodia this year.

We’ve also become friends with the Cambodians we worked with on the same project — like Vichetr, who works with the Sao Sary Foundation, a Cambodian NGO, and Daracheat, the Cambodian SIF in-country administrator. We stay in touch regularly via Facebook.

I want to continue to build enduring friendships while supporting a worthwhile cause. It’s very meaningful to me.

 

 


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