Sunday, February 20, 2011

The art of volunteerism: “One Who Gives Makes Many Friends” Sutta-Nipāta

Volunteer Students' Activities

“One Who Gives Makes Many Friends” Sutta-Nipāta

In Cambodia, I often see beggars, orphans, and homeless children that are living with desperate poverty with or without parents to take care of them. These children do not have the fortune to be born in a rich family, and they need help. They never know what personal hygiene is. Their bodies are covered with dirt from the head to toe. They never have proper clothes to wear, they walk barefoot, nor do they have a nutritious meal to eat. They may be poor, but they want to live a good life like all of us. They also have the right to get an education and to enjoy a better life in the future.

To make a difference, a group of volunteer university students, led by Say Seyhean, had an ambitious plan. They worked together to cultivate generosity. They created a project, “I Help You, You Help Others.” This project means that if I Help You, You Help another person, and another person will help another person. Then, through this act of good deeds, this world will be better, more peaceful and prosperous.

On a beautiful Sunday 13th February 2011, more than 150 volunteer university students of Phnom-Penh woke up at 5:00AM, joined together and went to Primary School Toul Svay Roth, Lom Peng Preah Ream Village, Tran Paing Korn Commune, Samrong Toung District, Kompong Speu Province to implement their project. They reached back and wanted to help those in dire needs.

These disadvantaged one hundred and sixteen children (6-12 years old) at this primary school were lack of personal hygiene and didn’t have proper school clothes to wear, and nutritious food to eat. They needed help, love and support from all of us. Despite the fact that volunteer work does not provide them any income, these students wanted to do something for those children. And, since they cannot be there all the time with them, they wanted to make the difference in those children life at least once. They volunteered their time to teach these children how to wash their hands and to take care of their personal hygiene. They gave all these children a bath and washed them from head to toe, shampooed their hair, cut their nails and brushed their teeth. Then, they issued them a new school uniform. After Venerable Sanghabodhi taught the five Buddha precepts, they feed them with nutritious food. They also entertained those children with traditional songs and plays. These volunteer students made the children smile and let them know they were not alone. They have made a personal and lasting contribution by leaving a legacy of their good deeds toward these deprived children. They delighted in giving.

Whenever I look back on the impact the volunteer students have made on those children at the primary school, I am so inspired and touched by their unselfish actions and passion – for the project they worked on, the children they help alongside, and, most importantly for the difference they have made to their own lives. These volunteer students were so eager and had so much to offer.