As I sat at Siem Reap airport; a mixture of emotions washed over me. There is a twinge of despair because for the first time I have to leave my husband and children behind. I am excited as I have never been to Singapore before and this would be an extra special trip because I would be representing ABCs. I was also equally nervous as the people I would be staying with , I had only really known through Skype, so I had very little idea of what to expect.
I needn’t have been nervous, as within seconds of meeting Sashi and his handsome son, Kishan at the airport, I knew I was with family.They met me with open arms, showed immediate care and kindness and I could feel their enthusiasm for ABCs and Rice and the children. Now my heart raced with excitement and my eyes widened to this big beautiful city that is Singapore. I could sense change, a new direction, a new hope for ABC.
I settled in very quickly meeting the rest of the family. Geetha, Sashi’s wife, was immediately like a sister. I had a quick hello / goodnight with their beautiful daughter Jaynna, who kindly gave up her bedroom for me to sleep in and a quick cuddle for their princess warrior puppy Zena. Viju, my other Skype friend, also stopped by for a quick catch-up.
The next morning I woke with great excitement ready to tackle what was to be a very busy day. We started the day with a visit to CIS to meet Glen and Thomas. We discussed all things ABC & Canada and how the next trip to Singapore should contain classroom talks bringing awareness to the next generation. This was followed by a meeting at SIF to meet with Margaret and Jean to discuss about our clean water project. One very exciting piece of news was that OBW may be willing to do a professional broadcast about ABCs and Rice. This would truly be wonderful.
I was then honored and lucky enough to have lunch with Ambassador Kesavapany! This man is a philanthropist, a world traveller, a family man, and a true inspiration. We swapped stories, I ate vegetarian mutton!!!! And we had a terrific time getting to know each other.
One final stop to meet Mr. Ameerali of MKAC who inspired and enlightened us wth stories about his great work in the local community. I left inspired and very impressed, also with a generous cash donation in hand, pens for every student, and a teddy bear mascot! We readily decided that we should start planning for their staff to visit us in Siem Reap to share their skills with our amazing community.
The day had been long and as we headed home I had a little time to reflect on what was going on. All these amazing people wanting to help our small school in Cambodia, it was overwhelming. As we arrived home I met the rest of Sashi’s family and we sat around like a family eating amazing food. I hated every second of being away from my family back home but being sat with all these incredible people made it feel like home.
The next two days were a little easier time wise but still very exciting. We had a beautiful lunch on Tuesdaywith the Rotary Club of Raffles City, Singapore. After a presentation to a group of great people,there was a terrific question and answer session, resulting in a show of support and a generous ‘Sunshine Dollar’ donation. I was also lucky enough to meet with Heather Grant, the High Commission of Canada to Singapore, leading to a great chat ABCs and Rice and expat life in general.
On Wednesday our first mission being lunch at the cricket club to meet with OASIS+ team, John and Onn to learn about their innovative water purification product. As well as the potential of future collaboration between OSISt and ABCs and Rice.
Sashi, Viju and I did a whirl wind tourist stop at the Mariana Bay Sands, where I posed for one “week-kneed”photo from the top bar area (open air, and 57 floors up makes for a jittery Tammy). Viju was back off to work, as were Sashi and I. We watched as Kishan, Jaynna, and their friends enjoyed soccer, and discussed the importance of sport and other extra-curricular activities in a child’s development. Turns out that Sashi had already been working hard, and had collected, from his own league, sponsorship for this year’s soccer league! Including new uniforms for each team!!!
That night it all ended with a terrific farewell dinner, having fun with the children and recapping with my newly extended family. It turned into quite a late but very enjoyable night. That wash of emotions filled me again. This time despair was for leaving these wonderful people. This was quickly washed away when I remembered that Viju and his friends are major sports enthusiasts and want to take part in the bike ride at the end of the year. Sashi and his family are already planning their return to Sem Reap.
Then a rush of excitement welled up inside me, I would be home to my family soon, I would be with my children soon and most importantly be able to take a breath about the future of ABC. Whilst nothing is ever certain, I can say for sure that the people I met will long live on in my heart and as we work together towards a bright future for ABC I am forever grateful to have our Singapore friends behind us.
I cannot wait to see them all again.