Road Photo Exhibition – A self-reflection photography journey by Alex Soh
You are cordially invited to the Photo Exhibition
R o a d – Give us a Road, and we’ll know how to walk out of poverty ourselves
A self-reflection photography journey by Alex Soh
4 – 6 June 2010 @ VivoCity #01 East Wing
There will be a little opening sharing at the exhibition on Friday night 8pm, 4 June.
I look forward to seeing you at the exhibition.
Cambodia is a country in Indo-China. Something glistens there; a pearl. The Angkor Wat, a National Heritage Site draws many visitors from around the world. War is ruthless, and it has led Cambodia to poverty. Lacking medical facilities, the people there may not live beyond 57 years old on average. As developed nations grapple with the issue of greying population, there is no such problem here. Instead, there are malnourished children everywhere.
My friend, Dr. King Gan, who is a retired doctor from Australia, asked me if I could help him in saving the lives of these people in a small village, Cham Resh, 70km away from Angkor. I followed the benevolent doctor to Cambodia in July 2009. It was a village that was almost bare. It was the monsoon season then. I will never forget the undulating journey full of mud. Sitting on the buffalo-cart because our 4-wheel drive could not enter the road, the group of us endured a jolting ride of 2 hours. I only realized that I was ‘rewarded with’ a blue-black back at the end of the journey.
Dr King Gan not only brought me to the village, he also showed me around the Angkor Children’s Hospital where he conducted medical relief. He helped out with the medical consultation and dispensing of medicine. Clean water is a major problem there; the lack of it causes skin diseases in children. Apart from contributing his medical expertise, he also got people to dig wells for them with his own savings, so the villagers may have clean water.
That trip will forever be imprinted in my mind. We asked the villagers if they needed any help, and if we could provide any material aid. Their reply was “Give us a road, and we’ll know how to walk out of poverty ourselves.” It was an answer full of dignity and wisdom. Simple words yet so powerful. Because of those words, I know, I will be back one day…
My second visit to Cham Resh was in end-April 2010, this time with 4 like-minded friends from Singapore. The dry season offered a different sight of the same journey. The lush paddies have now become cracked and parched. Dependent on the fields for sustenance, the ground has robbed the villagers of their main activity. They, however, did not sit around and do nothing. Instead, young and old, they congregated to learn survival skills, so they may live on.
It is difficult for us, materially-sufficient people, to imagine that in modern times like these, that there are still people living without water and electricity. When we deliberate between distilled water and mineral water, all these Cambodia people have got, is mud water.
When our children scream at the sight of ants, to the Cambodian children, they are grateful to the insects because they provide them with some much needed nourishment. To them, ant soup is a rare delicacy reserved only for the hosting of guests. Of course, we accepted the kind gesture with some trepidation.
Nightfall in Cham Resh is like a vacuum of darkness. An entrepreneur Alvin Goh, who went along on the trip, asked a young man, “It is so dark at night. What is there to do?” He answered simply, “Though outside is dark, our heart is light and our mind is clear!” Not only have poverty and darkness failed to erode the villagers’ dignity, it has added to their grip for life.
Modernization may have abandoned them, but in its absence, the most beautiful humanity has blossomed. I have decided to follow in Dr King Gan’s footsteps, to use my professional skills to do something for them. I am grateful for technology, that I may use my SLR camera to capture the touching scenes and pictures, to tell the colourful stories behind these black and white stills.
If the stories touched you in any way, you too can contribute to make the path of the Cambodian people a better one. I firmly believe that, sincerity transcends distance.
Please note that we will be selling some postcards and prints. All the funds collected will go to building a 4.5km road for the people in Cham Resh, Cambodia.
For those who share my sentiments, I Salute and Thank You.