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Cambodia Calling
Posted May 06, 2013 by Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani

This month ROTA was proud to work with 23 young volunteers from four independent secondary schools around Doha. The eight-day trip conducted by these young women, focused on enhancing their skills in communicating with individuals from different cultures. In interacting with local families and less fortunate children, the volunteers were able to capture another country, venturing into a life changing experience.

I am so proud of our ROTA volunteers, they continue to lead and inspire change – becoming true citizens of the world. The act of giving isn’t always associated with monetary value; giving up your time is just as (if not more) important. I salute those who live a life of honor and pride. It is our duty as today’s youth and able generation to bestow upon others a sense of compassion. You, as our volunteers, are our ambassadors – not only to Qatar, but to the world, and I encourage you to remember and believe that no good deed ever goes unrewarded.

It is also fulfilling to learn that when our young female volunteers were not busy in their voluntary activities; visiting local schools spearheading workshops on healthy living, Arabic language, Qatari culture/ art, and social media, they capitalized on the opportunity to learn about the Cambodian cultural and geographic landscape. They visited cultural sites, ventured to the famous Mekong River, and participated in leadership training sessions. The cultural enrichment that such experiences bring will prove to be invaluable when our volunteers eventually go on to lead successful careers. Such exposure helps polish and broaden the horizons of our youth who can only understand the global and cultural impact when encouraged to be active on site.

The words of Amal Al Emadi, a young volunteer, resonate. She explains how “visiting Cambodia has forever changed her.” It is this change that is so desperately required in order to understand our global counterparts better. Another participant astutely shared her realization that every child has the capacity to succeed if granted access to education in life. ROTA endlessly strives to not continue making a difference here at home in Qatar, but also globally by facilitating our students here to venture aboard and disseminate their knowledge, and experiences.

This is exactly what I did 12 years ago. With some friends from school and a few teachers from Qatar Academy – we travelled to Cambodia – the journey of a thousand miles changed our lives forever. I recall visiting a school, listening to parents – one mother was talking about her hardship. She had two children, but they could not both attend school at the same time. The reason being, she could only afford one set of uniform. They had to rotate using the uniform, which prevented them from both going at the same time. I remember seeing children play in the streets, a gift of a plastic ball enlightening their faces – they were grateful, for a small token of friendship and compassion. And though the notion of volunteerism dictates that you are doing others a favor, it also in turn helps us out as individuals in becoming more grounded. In a growing materialistic world, where values are at times blurred, one also gets a sense of satisfaction in the act of giving. To feel that you can change and enhance the lives of others through the action of giving – inspires you to be a better person. I hope to return to Cambodia, this summer, and look forward to seeing the efforts of our young volunteers in nurturing the less privileged -- taking with me, ROTA’s youngest volunteers to date.

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