Tour Updates

Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan

Picture of Sarah Carmody
Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Sarah Carmody - Friday, 13 December 2019, 12:56 AM

Greetings from Cambodia,

Although my time in Pailin was relatively short, the lessons I learnt during my time there will stay with me forever. Brother Max’s presentation about building bridges codified, for me, the mission of the Marist Brothers and allowed me to realise what my mission in Pailin is. A memory that will stay with me is seeing all the faces of the children we taught, you could see it in their eyes and in their smiles that there was no hate, only love. This is something that we can incorporate into our own lives, being full of love, not hate and loving those people that get on your nerves. Hearing the story of the women who lost her son, she said something that really struck me, “They [the government] don’t care about you, if you are poor.” Hearing this opened my eyes to the reality for many people in Cambodia, because they do not have enough money, they are unable to pay for many things that we in Australia take for granted.

Arriving in Phnom Penh, I was amazed at the contrast between Pailin and Phnom Penh. There was more traffic, more buildings that were larger and taller, more people and a more fast paced environment. It really highlighted to the me the disparity between the haves and havenots. 

We got to the hotel and dropped our stuff off before meeting with Bunna and his Tuk Tuk squad. Bunna took us on a quick tour around Phnom Penh showing us the sights, they were so beautiful and majestic.

Sister Helene spoke to us about the work she does for victims of human trafficking. Some of the stories that she shared with us were very emotional and awoke us to the fact that everyday, people are illegally passed into countries and forced to work as prostitutes. Sister also told us about the work she and her organisation does in finding girls, who have been trafficked, a job and give them skills and an education that makes sure that they are able to live a better life. After listening to Sister we were all inspired to do more to make sure that Sister's great work can continue.

Today was an awesome, inspiring, saddening and full-on day. We are on the final stretch and all miss you are terribly. I am sure it will be bittersweet for everyone to leave Cambodia.


Because I know you want to know Mum we have had...

  • Ostrich
  • Frog
  • Crickets
  • Tarantula (Luca B, Luca M and Liam had them)

Everything that I have eaten is written down so you can see the delicious food I have had.

Dad, Happy 50th Birthday!! I hope had a great day and the Korean BBQ didn't mess with Stu too much.

Charli, give Josie more pats for me. Every time I see a dog, it is torture because I know I am not able to pat them.


We miss everyone so very much, and we love listening to your replies every day.


See you soon!!


Ed Doyle
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Edward Doyle - Friday, 13 December 2019, 7:38 AM

Gday folks

Thank you all so much for detailing your experiences and insights each day. It is a journey that is so packed full of information and more importantly interactions. Hopefully you can appreciate the value of you all being there. For the Brothers it reminds them that people beyond Cambodia care about their mission and purpose. And listening to the local people let’s there stories be heard when they may feel they are not significant (I.e. the government). I guess by the time you have read this you will have visited the prison and killing fields. Having met the people of Cambodia you can put faces to the tragic stories of the past. It is certainly a very moving experience. And whilst you may feel powerless and as your journey comes to an end, it will be important to reflect on how this may translate into your own lives. It will be important to share the stories of the Marist Brothers and Cambodian people with those back home. And without even knowing it, The choices you will make as young men in the future have already been influenced by this immersion. Thank you all for making the decision to stand up, do something different and journey with each other. It is clear from the writings and photos you have all grown close, staff included and are bonded by this experience. 

A huge thank you to Sue, Sarah, Phil and Phil. You have allowed this immersion to continue and hopefully you have seen first hand it’s importance. 

Sue, did Br Francis share a coupla focal with you?

A special shout out to Luca and Jackson. Love seeing all those smiles. 

Wish you all the best for the end of your time there and have a very special and Happy Christmas. 

Ed Doyle

Picture of Bridget Helliar
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Bridget Helliar - Friday, 13 December 2019, 7:52 AM

Thanks Jack,

It sounds like you all have taken in a lot from the experience, and knowing that everything we have back here doesn’t necessarily make you happy is a great thing to acknowledge at such a young age. We are loving the updates, and looking at the photos on twitter. I miss Liam very much but reading the blog makes me feel good about where he is. I was also happy to hear he tried the tarantula, gathering by the fact only 3 boys had it, it must have looked terrifying. 

Enjoy the last few days of this incredible experience.

Liam, Hayward is back 

Picture of Terry Meehan
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Terry Meehan - Friday, 13 December 2019, 7:54 AM

Hi Jack and Pilgrims,

I can read from your blog that you have a greater understanding about the hardships that people face. The Cambodian people appear to find happiness in just the fact they are here, without all the things that we take for granted and believe make our lives better. It is making me take stock of what is important in my life and what I can do to make others lives better. 

Thanks for the food update, I can’t wait to see read about all the other amazing food and wonderful experiences you’ve had.

Josie has actually done her ACL but we are not having the surgery done till after Christmas so she’s been limping for the last couple of days. It hasn’t stopped her from chasing the birds though!

We miss you too and you’re going to get the biggest hug ever when you come back!

Love Mum xxoo 

Picture of Adriano Di Prato
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Adriano Di Prato - Friday, 13 December 2019, 8:11 AM

Hello Jack,

Thank you very much for another heartfelt blog entry. 

With each reflection it is obvious the profound impact this immersion is having on you all. We very much appreciate the regular updates of the daily activities (and food!) but most insightful is your sharing of your growth and important observations. 

This is a beautiful line Jack, “ could see it in their eyes and in their smiles that there was no hate, only love.” It is amazing to encounter a people that are happy with the simplest of things. It gives us all in Australia a greater perspective of what truly matters - love and compassion. 

Be gentle with yourselves as you experience some confronting scenes in Phnom Penh. 

Safe travels.

Warm regards,

Adriano Di Prato 

Picture of Terry Meehan
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Terry Meehan - Friday, 13 December 2019, 8:14 AM

Hi Jackyboy and everyone else!

I have loved waking up each morning and reading all about what you’ve all been up to, and I’m sure you’ve all loved to hear our replies!

I’m very proud of you and how hard you’ve been working and how eloquently you’ve reflected on what you have experienced throughout this trip. 

Also congratulations on eating something other than spaghetti bolognese and I’m happy to give up my pasta bolognese fight for one night when you get back.

Some updates for you:

- Like Mum said Josie has done her ACL and has been limping everywhere.

- One of our fish in the pond has had a suspected stroke and now swims on his side, I have taken the liberty of naming him Carl.

- I dropped out of teaching at ACU next year and am now going to do Business Administration at RMIT. 

- James got his ATAR results and was happyish but just wanted a few more points.

I look forward to seeing you and everyone else soon and can’t wait to hear all the stories and everything you experienced because it looks and sounds like it has been an incredible time.

Love your favourite sister,

Charli xoxoxoxo 

Picture of Louise Moody
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Louise Moody - Friday, 13 December 2019, 10:11 AM

Hi Pilgrams,

It sounds like such an emotional rollercoaster, much like our weather. Sad to report we’re at dec 13 and have  had only 1 hot day so far. Better pull out your Jumpers for the return home you might find it a bit different to what you’ve got used to.

Love hearing that some of you tried tarantula, much braver than me. Also love seeing your smiling faces in the photos being shared.

Moods, so looking forward to seeing you soon. Sick of of your tidy room, need you home to mess it up so I can nag on you to clean it again.

Safe travels 

Love Louise


Picture of Janelle Reid
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Janelle Reid - Friday, 13 December 2019, 12:48 PM

Hi All,

We are all loving your messages and looking at the photos of you all looking so healthy and happy. The smiles on the kids faces say it all.

So brave to try tarantula.... yes much braver than me too!

So looking forward to seeing you on Sunday morning and hearing about your experiences first hand Daniel.  Missing you lots.



Picture of Terry Meehan
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Terry Meehan - Friday, 13 December 2019, 1:10 PM

Hello Pilgrim’s

Awesome work on the blogs boys, I look forward to reading them each day.

Jack I found your words about Sister Helene’s work most touching it’s great that you found inspiration from her - we’re lucky to have people like Sister Helene in this world and I’m sure she’s not the only person on this trip to have given you inspiration to use move forward in life.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah, Susan, Phil 1 and Phil 2 (you can work the order out yourselves) on keeping our boys (young men) safe and well through this journey.

Take in everything you can in your final days and stay safe, thanks for the Birthday wishes and we’ll see you all soon.


Picture of Louise Moody
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Louise Moody - Friday, 13 December 2019, 1:32 PM

G’day Pilgrims,  

What an adventure you are all having!!
Thank you for the great blog posts. They have kept us informed and gone some way to helping us not miss our boys.

Rhys - I and the family miss you dearly.  The house is not the quite the same without you. 
Yes, there may well be lots more food in the pantry, lots less washing for Mum to do and even more room on the couch to spawl out on.. but it’s still “just not right” without you. 
We are looking forward to you coming home and telling us all about the many other stories and adventures you experienced.

Each pilgrim’s story has been wonderful to share in… lots of emotions, plenty of laughs and always a good reference to the food you are enjoying/tasting(?).
Sounds like Brother Francis definitely knew how to get you firing on all cylinders with a lovely breakfast to kick off the day! 

Rhys, I enjoyed your reflection on Patrick from Sydney, whilst its sad to know that Patrick is no longer with us, it was inspiring to see how he returned to Pailin, strengthened his relationships with the community and gave back where he could well beyond his first immersion. I’m sure there’s many ways as pilgrims your Cambodian awakening will inspire you to see things through different lenses and look to the future.

Thank you Jack for sharing your experience with Brother Max and Sister Helene and the work they do

Thank you again for the insightful words you all have provided and safe travelling ahead as you return home.
We look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Love Brad

Picture of Mark Murphy
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Mark Murphy - Friday, 13 December 2019, 2:20 PM

Dear Pilgrims,

It has been such a privilege to continue to read of your experiences over the past days. Before you left I charged you with the significant responsibility of Continuing to build our relationship with the people of Pailin. Having read your reflections I am comforted and encouraged in the knowledge that you have achieved this aim. Your interactions with this community especially the children have clearly demonstrated your understanding of what it truly means to commit to developing relationships with a Marist Heart. Their is no doubt too that this is in part due to fine young men that you are as well as the support of Susan, Phil, Sarah and Phil. I think that you will agree too that much of your understanding of what it means to reach out in solidarity to those in greatest need has come from the Marist Brothers themselves. What a gift to you these incredible men have been. Men of selfless Christian service, men who, with every waking breath reflect on how they can bring a better life to the people of this challenged place.

I am sure that you have figured it out by now that the most valuable gift you have brought these people is not the material gifts you have brought with you or the projects you have completed or the English you have taught but the genuine and heart felt care and affection you have shown in every interaction. 

To all the Marcellin pilgrims I would like to express my deep appreciation of al you have done and all you have been for the people of Pailin. I hope and pray that this experience stays with you as you continue to grow as what Marcellin would describe as Good Christians and Good Citizens. You remain in my thoughts and prayers


Picture of Jill Fitzsimons
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Jill Fitzsimons - Friday, 13 December 2019, 8:31 PM

Beautiful words and sentiments, Mark Murphy.

When we realise that who we are and that the impact we have on others is our greatest source of influence and satisfaction, we become truly free and a whole person. 

It's been great to read this blog, everyone.

Wishing you all a very happy and holy Christmas.

Jill Fitzsimons

Picture of Carolyn Young
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Carolyn Young - Friday, 13 December 2019, 5:56 PM

Thank you to both Jack and Stephen for your thoughtful and insightful posts! I look forward to speaking with you when you return.

I think you will be hearing this on your last morning. No doubt yesterday was an emotional roller coaster and today will involve some of that too. I pray you remember the incredible good in humanity that you have witnessed in Cambodia: the generosity of the children, the hospitality, kindness and wisdom of Br. Francis; the selflessness of the staff who have accompanied you - and, you. 

You are the hope of the future. It is your willingness to challenge yourself to help others, your openness to God's love in this world and sharing it with others, your willingness to share your experiences and the growth you have gone through in the last two weeks that will make our world a better place. Our world needs people such as yourselves to work for justice, every day, and to teach others both how to do it and why it must be done. I pray that your lived examples on your return inspire your friends and all you encounter to make our world better.

When you return, reach out to each other as you need to. It is odd going from your pilgrim family back into your own lives: your own space, incredible opportunities (like clean, running water every day), your other friends who won't understand the impact you have felt - these can be very strange to readjust to. Be good to one another and know - you have made God's love real for others over the last two weeks and hopefully you've come to know more of it yourselves.

I can't wait to catch up in 2020. We will have lunch as a group in your first full week back.

Until then, travel safely and may God bless!

Kellie Carbone
Re: Day 11: Phnom Penh - Jack Meehan
by Kellie Carbone - Saturday, 14 December 2019, 10:02 AM

PDear Jack, teachers and Pilgrims

Thank you Jack for your update, the emotional strength you have further gained will stay will you forever I'm sure.  Thinking of you all and cant wait to see you tomorrow. Kellie