How the 2009 Cambodian youth camp changed my life
As a continuation of last week's article about about Initiatives of Change's work in Cambodia, below is a story from Teng Koytry, one of the participants of the third annual youth camp hosted by Cambodia Initiatives of Change Association (ICA), sharing how the camp changed his life for ever:
29 October to 2 November 2009 were the most meaningful days of my life, since I was provided with the golden opportunity to join in the 3rd Youth Camp in Pailin under the theme 'Youth and Social Engagement', organized by the Initiatives of Change Association (ICA). It was a priceless time for me because I learned many useful things from the five-day camp. After attending this youth camp, I realized how much I have changed from who I was to who I am now. This youth camp has directly and indirectly brought me to three important changes in my life, which I have found very crucial for my daily life.
Firstly, I - of course - got to know clearly about the theme 'Youth and Social Engagement.' Formerly, I did not know what the term 'social work' really means. More importantly, I never thought of having the passion to become involved in any social work, since I believed that I could not have enough capacity to help society. However, the youth camp explained to me what social work really is.
In addition, it inspired me to know the significant role of the individual, as a Cambodian citizen, to contribute to the development of Cambodia. Since then, I have started to acknowledge that with my 10 fingers, I can do many things to help many people who are waiting to be assisted. All of my previous stereotypes were all eliminated. I was touched by a phrase from the committee stating that 'a single person can make a change, so what happens if 14 million people make a better change to the society by involving in social work?' Therefore, I have become involved in many ICA activities in order to play a part in changing Cambodia to become a better place.
Second, the importance of family is another thing I learned from the youth camp. Since I am an orphan, I was never able to feel how warm having real parents is supposed to be like. In my family, I live with my aunt and uncle whom I address as Mum and Dad. Nevertheless, I never got close to them since my heart always regarded them as my foster parents. So, I never gave them a very warm love and most of the time I did not get involved in the family's activities. In other words, I usually stayed apart from the family. Life in this condition was so miserable for me.
Fortunately, Family Group - one of the programmes in the youth camp - showed me the way of dealing with this situation. It was suggested to me that I write a letter to them (my aunt and uncle), expressing all my feeling towards them, as well as the whole family. I did it, but when I got back home, I was not confident enough to deliver the letter. However, I encouraged myself to do it. Finally, my letter was delivered to them. Once they read my letter, they were so shocked because in the letter I included all my regret and apology for not being very close to the family and entertaining the family environment. Since then, I can feel how comfortable having parents is like, although they are not my real parents. They have been giving me a very affectionate love, which I never experienced before. Even now, my relationship with my family is very close, unlike before. This is a great achievement in my life which I never expected could ever happen. The youth camp made my dream come true.
Last - but not least - I got a deeper understanding of the four absolute standards: love, honesty, purity and unselfishness. Before the youth camp, I did not really understand what these standards were, yet the youth camp gave me a clear picture of these four absolute principles. After getting to know in detail about these words, I started to feel that we as human beings must live with these four standards. If we lack any of the four, our life is not considered as a peaceful life on earth. Hence, I have been gradually trying to apply these four standards into practice in my life, so that I can have a peaceful and joyful life. Although, until now, I have not been able to reach the "Absolute" level, I am still trying to adopt these principles until reaching the "Absolute" level.
To sum up, my participation in the 3rd youth camp conducted by the Initiatives of Change Association, was the greatest benefit to me. It was not a waste of time to join in this programme. I can frankly say that if I had not participated in this youth camp, my life would not have been changed this much. I am very thankful to ICA for conducting such a great programme for Cambodian youth to develop themselves for the sake of tomorrow.
For more information on ICA's work in Cambodia, please visit their website at www.icacambodia.org.