In the current climate when we are bombarded with negative representations of teenagers, we at Inst would like to celebrate the achievements of some of our 6th form pupils who have put others before themselves and worked hard to fight poverty on a global scale. Over the summer a group of 16 boys from Inst gave up part of their holidays and embarked on an unforgettable journey to Cambodia to volunteer for the organisation, Habitat for Humanity. Sixth form pupil Gareth McKillen recalls some of his most memorable moments of the expedition.
‘On the 27th of June at 1 o’clock in the morning myself and fifteen other boys from Years 13 and 14 , Mr Scott, Mr Todd and 2 past pupils of the school left the front of Inst. Twenty-four hours and three flights later we arrived in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. After this we were bundled into two small minibuses for a frantic cross-town journey to the Habitat for Humanity headquarters for a briefing on what the next few days had in store for us.
Here we heard about the two poor families that we’d be helping and learnt a bit about their background. The next morning we were up early for what would become the familiar breakfast of egg fried rice before getting back into the minibuses for the 45min journey out to the small village where we would be building. We arrived on site at around 8:30 to be warmly welcomed by both the home owners and the skilled workers and after a few speeches we got down to the serious business of building the houses.
The work was tiring and very dirty with most of us being covered in orange-brown dust at the end of each day. However it was very rewarding and made worthwhile when at the end of our week of building we were invited to attend a ceremony which was to symbolize the handing over of the houses to their owners. Although not yet complete, it was easy to see how much it meant to the people whose homes, and lives, we had been responsible for building. It was an extremely humbling experience to see people so grateful for what we consider a basic right here in the UK and one which made the long hours of travelling, back-breaking work and time away from our families and friends so worthwhile.’ Gareth McKillen
Luke Hastings also relates his experiences of the team’s time in Cambodia.
‘Our trip to Cambodia gave every member of the team an invaluable experience. We were able to see some of the country’s most famous landmarks including the Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap and the floating village, along with the National Museum and the King’s Residence in Phnom Penh.
Whilst in Cambodia one of the main things we learnt about was the history of the country and its culture. We visited the Genocide prison and the killing fields where we witnessed the techniques the guards would have used to torture the public and paid our respects to the remains of those who were killed as part of the Pol Pot regime. It was an experience that was both eye-opening and devastating.
For everyone, perhaps the most significant aspect of the trip was meeting and forming a bond with the children we were building a future for. On our first day the reception we received was astonishing; we were greeted by about 50 children running around with huge smiles on their faces, all because we had just turned up. Every day we were met by the same welcome from the same kids whose circumstances never seemed to dampen their desire to play.
Every aspect of the trip can be described as life changing, from building a home for different families to learning about Cambodia. The two weeks were tough, but every member of the team was strengthened by their individual contribution and the impact it had on the lives of others; when we saw the jubilation on the families’ faces it showed how by giving up just a little time we had had a profound and lasting effect on the lives of some extremely deserving people. Cambodia 2012 provided incredible memories for every team member and it was a trip that we are all proud to have been a part of.’