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19th December 2016 (Monday)
I have always been looking forward to visiting Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder. When I knew that the APDSA Mid-year-meeting and Lend a Hand Project (MYM and LHP) will be held in Cambodia, I immediately put this event as my bucket list in the year of 2016. Early in the morning, I flew to Cambodia from Hong Kong and as soon as I stepped out of the airport, I can feel the heat of the scorching sun. It was winter time in Hong Kong in December and so I missed the sunny and warm weather. What warmed my heart was that there were 2 Cambodian friends who were standing outside of the airport waiting for me. I get to recognise them because they are holding a banner written “ APDSA MYM and LHP” and i knew this is the start of my exciting journey.
We were transferred to the Asia Tune Hotel by a shuttle bus and the whole journey took around 1 hour. The friendly Cambodian friend started to share about the history and interesting facts about his country. Once we arrived at the hotel, we started to register our names at the welcoming reception. Since it was just early afternoon, we were free to do any activities that we like before the opening ceremony. I decided to visit a local dental clinic that my Apdsa friend in Cambodia is currently working with. I met him when i first joined APDSA Annual Congress (APDSA AC) in Taiwan in 2015 and i was just a year 1 student back then. I could not imagine how time flies and it has been around 2 years since we last met. This is the power of the Apdsa where you can meet your new and old lifelong friends during the congress. Distance and time can never weaken our friendship and this is the reason why all of us are so enthusiastic to join the congress and meeting whenever we can. At 4pm, we started our first part of the meeting with the APDSA Executive Committee members. During that meeting, we get the updates about the report from the Singapore APDSA AC.
At night, we kicked start the programme by having the welcoming dinner. It was an international buffet where we get to taste the food from all over the world. I was put in group C where i met my groupmates from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Before heading back to hotel, we also had the orientation briefing about the LHP for the following days. We were explained about the procedures and things to take note of.
20th December 2016 (Tuesday)
All of us woke up early in the morning as we have to head to the primary school for our first lend a hand project. As soon as we arrived, each and everyone of us took the initiatives to help out by shifting the instruments, materials and dental chairs into the classroom. After a short briefing, each group went to their respective classrooms and here we go! Basically, we were divided into three main groups where we will each get the chance to be the operator, observer and teaching oral hygiene instruction. It was really an eye opener to me as i was quite curious at first about how we get to carry out all the procedures under the limited resources that we were provided but this programme proved that we can do it. And now, i truly believe that ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way’! The children in the school also behaved so well and polite that none of them cried or screamed during the procedures, even during the extractions! After the procedures, the children that received the treatment will put their palms together in front of their chests as a way to express gratitude to the operator. I am sure this must touched the heart of many dental students as we never know that our simple act of kindness can make such an impact on one’s life.
At night, we headed to the Damnak Damrei resort where i had my first camping in my life. We sat around the campfire and had the barbecue for our dinner. The highlight of the day was of course singing and dancing around the campfire! I will never forget this night where i get to sleep in a tent and get this close to the nature at night.
21st December 2016 (Wednesday)
In the morning, we had our second round of Lend a Hand Project at another primary school.
After that, we headed to the famous tourist spot in Cambodia, the Silhanouk beach. At night, we had our dinner in the Moon Julie hotel and this was also the place where we received our certificate of participations. I could not imagine that our programme is almost coming to an end when i saw the LOC displaying our photos that were taken during the programme.
22nd December 2016 (Thursday)
This is the most exciting moment of the programme as we finally get to know who will be the next hosting country for the APDSA AC 2018. Both Thailand and Malaysia representatives took part in this bidding. During their presentation, i were really amazed by the hardwork that they have done in such a short period of time. To be honest, it was really hard to make a decision between these two and i do hope that we can vote for both countries. Eventually, Malaysia won the bidding and will be the next hosting country after APDSA AC in Hong Kong.
How can we leave Silhanouk beach without even going to the beach? Hence, all of us headed to the beach with our slippers, hats and sunglasses and it was such a wonderful moment to feel the fresh breeze by the seside.
At night, we had our last dinner in Cambodia with our dear friends and group leaders. We had a wonderful night and i hoped that it can last even longer because it was so hard to say goodbye.
23rd December 2016 (Friday)
Since my flight was around 7pm, i still have plenty of time to travel around Phnom penh. I am so glad to have Cambodian friends as our tour guides because it is always fun to travel with the locals. Who knows Cambodia better than the locals? We also tried out some local food and bought some souvenirs at the Central Market before heading to the airport.
This is my third time joining APDSA event but my first time joining the APDSA MYM-LHP as part of the Executive Committee of APDSA. I always feel warmth to get to catch up with my old friends during the programme. We do not contact each other that frequent as we are all busy with our own dental studies but yet, the friendship does not diminish because of the distance. Every time when we get to meet each other again, the feeling is overwhelming. Also, after the programme, i am not only bringing back those sweet memories and experience, i am also taking back new friendships. Lend a Hand Project, on the other hand, has offered all of us a chance to give back to the society with the knowledge that we have gained. There is a famous quote that goes “ No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” and even though the things that we can offer as a dental student is quite limited but it can still impact one’s life.