Wednesday, 5 August 2009

my cambodia snippet 1

roly, left in the picture.

Funny reality: I keep asking for light forgetting I already have the sun.

I know of a friend, Roly is his name. I'm sure everyone on the trip will remember him for life =). He is a fifth year medical student in USS, Cambodia. He's from a muslim village in Kampots(i'm not sure of the spelling) Province, where most men work as fishermen.

In his village, education commonly goes as far as primary school. And then, they are expected to share the responsibility to feed the family. Fishing is known to be hard work with not much gain in return.

But the child Roly wanted to study more. He had a different idea of how life should be. How education can help improve things. His parents werent happy. His grandparents disapproved. The people in the village shared his family's views too : Education is not important. Working for money to feed the family is.

This made Roly a stubborn child, always and always. He realized this. And he knew he was the only one. Still, he insisted to not want to work. He begged his family to give him 3 more years so he can finish high school.

So he spent teenage years cycling 20km to high school everyday during weekdays and fishing with his father during weekends. Whenever he wasn't studying hard, he worked hard.

Alhamdulillah, he was offered a scholarship to do medicine in USS from the Cambodian Government at the end of high school. He had to continue being "the stubborn one".

The scholarship only covers tuition fees so he needed money for a place to stay in Pnom Penh, food to eat as well as books to read.

His parents can only afford half of these expenses, having other siblings to take care of. Because of this, life was very hard in the first month before he managed to find himself a job. Two jobs to be precise.

He distributed newspapers in the early mornings, attend classes during the day and work at a restaurant from 5pm to 10pm. And everyone knows medicine calls for a lot of time reading too. So he sleeps whenever he can. As before, he studies hard when he isnt working hard.

Despite having two jobs, buying books is still a dream. Books from the library are limited so they cant be taken out. So he photostated books to read for this is the only "affordable" choice. But Alhamdulillah, he knew about IMAC, the Islamic Medical Association of Cambodia who referred him to IDB, the Islamic Developmental Bank. He received a small sum of money every month from IDB. However, in third year, more books are needed. Staying up late in the library isnt enough anymore as many references are in english yet medicine in USS is taught in french. So, he needs more time with books now to translate and study. Life gets more and more pressing for Roly.

"Sometimes I feel so tired I just want to pack up and return to my village." he said.

But he can't. He has pushed this far and he isn't coming back empty-handed, he told us.

Despite all this, he excelled in class. Throughout the length of our stay with him, he always received calls from his friends, asking him to explain something or another from the lectures. He leads a study group and managed to get a teaching job at a private school where he teaches anatomy and biology.

He spends his nights preparing for his own classes as well as the classes that he teaches. "Sometimes I don't sleep." said Roly. How he manages is beyond me.

Life is hard for Roly until today. But he knows that he is far from being most unfortunate. Allah has given him a very strong will to study and intelligence to come with that. He is the only person, the first person he likes to call it, who gets into university in his village. This calls for a show of thanks to Allah. He finds time to help in IMAC's medical and social relief to the poor to do circumcisions as well as mobile clinics. This is how we got to meet him in Kg. Cham.

He told us, one day he will return to serve and help the people of his village. Actions speak louder than words. Whatever he told them before about education, they dont pay attention to. So he really...really wants to prove to his people that education, in Allah's will, can bring success. A better life. He wants others to understand, to follow his footsteps. To know that success is possible to whoever who wants it. Be you the most poverty-stricken person or a rich man. The journey is a tough one but he wants to show others that he will make it. And others will too if they wish to.

And I thought. This is just one person. Amongst hundreds who disapprove. Roly was definitely just one person, but Allah chose him to be the one who changes others. And one person may be all it takes.

Allah...truly Ya Allah, I am embarassed with every time that I become I whined and how I sighed living a life full of ease.

Forgive me.


redhuans said...

i like i like...roly's story is very inspiring..anis allow me to publish this article in my blog yer..i malas nak tulis panjang2 dah cause ur story says it all ALL READY...hahaha

anisfozi said...

sila2 hehe..aku nak gamba semua dr shazif, nak tules snippets lagi..."dipanah rindu asmara" bak kata hangg.