Tour Updates

Day 13 - Reflection

Picture of Adriano Di Prato
Day 13 - Reflection
by Adriano Di Prato - Friday, 15 December 2017, 2:48 AM

Today began with a much loved early start (insert sarcasm!). It wasn’t without good reason though, because we would be spending the day at Salla La Valla, a school run by the Marist Brothers, that solely cares for disabled Cambodian children. As soon as the pilgrims walked into the school we where immediately consumed by the kids. It was an amazing experience to see young children, who are missing limbs and have other disabilities, be absolutely ecstatic to be in our presence. It really showed the appreciation that the kids have for the fact that they are simply alive and they are deeply loved. After they gave us a tour of the school grounds and surrounding farmland, we all gathered and listened to some stories of how they became disabled. 

We heard from a boy of 17, who severely damaged his arm in a clay mixer, similarly another boy (16 years old) lost his arm during a clay mixer accident. Then there where two girls, one was 15 who lost her leg in a water pump incident. And then most shocking of all a 14 year old girl who lost both her arm and leg whilst crossing the road one day. These stories where all hard to take in, especially since the victims where sitting right in front of us. Accounts like these highlighted to me to the fact of how much we under appreciate access to quality health care and how much we take for granted on a daily basis.

In the evening, the pilgrims experienced a dinner like no other. 'Dine in the dark' is a restaurant encounter that allows diners to share a meal through the 'eyes' of a vision impaired person. We all ate our meals in a pitch black room. This experience was so unique as it really allowed everyone to utilise our other senses. For me personally I was quite lost at times without the benefit of sight. I didn't know where to put my hands, I didn't know how I was going to eat my food and I didn't know what I was going to taste. The meal passed and it was delicious. Due to the fact that we where all blind, it allowed us to consume a meal without pre-judging it because of its looks and fully understand the daily challenge for people who have lost the ability to see. 

The irony in this is that, this ideal of not judging correlates with our experience today in Salla La Valla, as the joyful and generous nature of the kids should not be overshadowed by their disabilities. These beautiful Cambodian children are a way in which we can experience God. Too me, they are miracle children and are blessed with real abilities, including boundless hearts. It is just a shame that many others views are clouded and can't see past their disabilities.

These past fourteen days have been an experience I will not forget. The people I have meet, and the people I have grown to know are ones that will remain with me for a long time. This immersion has taught me to give more of myself and to be more open minded to new possibilities. I am now enlightened to both this place's past and present social and cultural history. And I feel that these experiences will help me learn to become a better individual. Cambodia, thank you. 

Julian Pegoraro

Picture of Rick Mikus
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Rick Mikus - Friday, 15 December 2017, 6:55 AM

Hi Julian,

Another wonderful reflection that once again highlights the impact this immersion has had. To list and explain all your experiences, emotions and realisations is too enormous to contemplate but the memories you will take home with you and the greater understanding of the plight of others will be something you will have forever.

Adrian -  everyone is looking forward to seeing tomorrow. The Mikus 'clan' will be at the airport!

Safe travels everyone!

Clare & Rick

Picture of Tracey Long
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Tracey Long - Friday, 15 December 2017, 7:39 AM

Good morning 

Great reflection Julian - what a wonderful way to end your journey, sounds like you all had a terrific day.

It has been a privilege to read your reflections each day and to see the photographs, thanks so much to all of you for sharing your experiences with us.

And a huge thank you to the staff who are nothing short of brilliant. Your hard work, dedication and commitment is hugely appreciated. The boys are very lucky to have such fine role models walk alongside them.

Very much looking forward to having you home Ronan. There is a lot of hype here about the new Star Wars movie, which I know you will be dying to see! Conor went to the midnight screening with Brody and Charlie. No doubt they’ll be happy to go along for a second viewing.

Safe travels everyone see you soon!

Picture of Loretta Barbuto
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Loretta Barbuto - Friday, 15 December 2017, 8:37 AM

Another wonderful reflection Julian. What a contrast in emotions you have all had over your last couple of days. 

It had been a privilege to read your reflections every day and I can only imagine how much this experience has effected you all. No doubt your last 2 weeks will impact your life in ways that you can only imagine.

I am so proud of you all. You are so lucky to have had this immersion but the immersion has been lucky to have you. You have behaved so well and your families and Marcellin are very proud of our "fine young men".

James, I can't wait to see you tomorrow. Love you heaps. 

Mum and Papa

Picture of Teresa Michelangeli
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Teresa Michelangeli - Friday, 15 December 2017, 9:28 AM

Thanks Julian for such a wonderful reflection. It brought tears to my eyes at the vision of those children which such disabilities. I continue to be proud of all of you and the amazing work you are all doing. A huge thanks to all the staff for giving their time to allow this experience to take place.

Lewis I am so excited to see you. One more sleep !

Safe travels home pilgrims.

Much love 

The Michelangeli clan.

Picture of Sarah Cattapan
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Sarah Cattapan - Friday, 15 December 2017, 12:03 PM

Julian, I loved your post.

After my visit to Palin and the killing fields, I remember arriving into Sala Lavalla and as the kids ran to greet us I burst into tears.... (happy tears)..a memory I cherish seeing the innocent happy faces of children who had experienced so much of their own trauma and so welcoming to strangers.

I imagine you will all leave Cambodia with different highs and lows....You will all have your own memories to cherish with the friendships you have made with the Cambodians and bonds you have created amongst yourselves will stay with you..

I hope you enjoy your remaining time together, safe travels and well done on embracing  and immersing in all that is Cambodia...


Picture of Carolyn Young
Re: Day 13 - Reflection
by Carolyn Young - Friday, 15 December 2017, 12:56 PM

Thanks to Julian and to everyone who has written such thoughtful and informative posts. You have taken us on your journey with you - not just the events, but the journey of faith and personal growth too - and I am sure that all who have been following you are richer for your reflections. You will delight in reading them yourselves when you return and they will form a great record for you.

Thanks, too, to everyone who has written to this outstanding group of pilgrims. The depth of the responses you have been sending have been as nourishing for the extended community following their experiences as the pilgrims' accounts have been. Thanks to all parents, staff and student who have taken the time to send their messages through!

Safe travels home, pilgrims! I can't wait to catch up with you all in the new year.

Kind regards,