Presentation on the Cambodia Mission

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Insight World Aid will give a presentation on the 2013 Cambodia Volunteer Mission and a Sneak Preview of the Peruvian Trip Plans on

Sunday, April 14
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
At the Insight Meditation Center
108 Birch Street in Redwood City

Join members of the Insight World Aid Cambodia Volunteer Brigade for a moving slide show presentation of our first overseas mission. We will be sharing stories and images from our heart-opening two weeks serving the poor in Cambodia, visiting the stunning Angkor Wat and practicing meditation.

We will also discuss our developing plans for a second mission trip to Peru which will occur August 21 – September 6, 2013.

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Posted in Cambodia, Events, Peru

Peruvian volunteer mission scheduled for August

Peruvian school children
Insight World Aid’s second international volunteer aid mission will take place in August 2013. In addition to providing medical aid we will be working with local people to construct solar stoves in a poor neighborhood in southern Peru. This trip will include guided tours of historic Inca ruins.

Insight World Aid is forming a small group of health professionals and individuals with other skills and talents who are interested in working to serve others while practicing mindfulness and compassion.

For more information on this mission see our projects page on Peru.

Posted in News, Peru

Video From Cambodian News Source About The Mission

Here is a video of a broadcast that covered the mission.  It includes an interview with Dr. Song Tan, the head of CHPAA.  It is in Khmer, but there is still video footage to be enjoyed.

Posted in Cambodia | Tagged , ,

S-21 And The Killing Fields – A Reflection

Early on in our trip, we visited S-21(the Khmer Rouge’s main interrogation prison in Phnom Penh) and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields where most of those prisoners were sent to be killed. My fellow volunteer and new friend, Chris, wrote the following of her experience and I am posting it on her behalf…

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Hello! My name is Christine Bitonti. I am a clinical social worker (mostly retired) and a member of the Insight Meditation Central Valley Sangha. This is Day 3 of our medical mission. We’ll be departing shortly for Takeo, a more rural southern province where we will set up the 6-day clinich with donated tents and, hopefully, a porta-potty or two!

Yesterday was a physically challenging (for me) day of sightseeing here in Phnom Penh. Today, I am reflecting on what I saw and felt as we were introduced to the experiences – past and present – of the Cambodian people.

I volunteered for this mission in part to honor my Cambodian-American friend, Pauline and her family, who have been so hospitable to me in Modesto. Pauline is a mental health professional as well, and the oldest of her sibling group. She was about 12 when her family fled the Khmer Rouge to a refugee camp in Thailand. While she doesn’t often speak of this tragic period, she is quite open about what happened to her and her family when asked. Now, I have seen some of the consequences of this sinister period of Cambodian history.

After touring the Royal Palace with tiled rooms and diamond-studded Buddhas, we entered Tuol Sleng – a former high school converted to a detention facility by te Khmer Rouge where nearly 20,000 prisoners were tortured into confessing to crimes they had never committed. We met Chum Mey (now 82), one of the only seven people to survive this experience – and only because his captors fled before killing him as the Vietnamese marched into Phnom Penh to liberate the country. The school-turned-prison is dark, gloomy, and bears macabre reminders of the atrocities – hundreds of pictures of the faces of those detained (taken by the Khmer Rouge themselves as they carefully documented their “mission”). There are also images of the bloated, decomposing bodies of detainees killed while shackled to their beds.

Most of the prisoners were taken to the Choeung Ek Killing Field where they lost their lives in the most barbaric ways. We visited this grim site where mass graves were later discovered and excavated. Now a few of the grave sites are enclosed with short bamboo fences on which hang thousands of Buddhist prayer beads and bracelets left by those who have come to honor the dead and – like our group – to pay homage to the brave Cambodian people.

Though depressing, Tuol Sleng and the Killing Field were important destinations during our day of introduction to the culture and history of these resilient people. I feel honored to be able to serve in whatever capacity I’m assigned.

– Chris

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Posted in Cambodia | Tagged , , ,

Team IWA Returns

After traveling 17,000 miles during 16 days, spanning 2 continents, treating thousands of patients, nurturing 60 orphans and experiencing countless adventures the IWA volunteers returned to their point of departure – SFO. We are travel weary but ecstatic about our journey, the lives we touched, the new friendships formed and, most of all, returning home. Each of us has been transformed by the mission and have hearts that are full with love for the beautiful people of Cambodia and each other. We are now back home safe, perhaps wiser and more compassionate from our time away.

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Posted in Cambodia

Wat’s Wat

I am now resting back in New Zealand and the rest of the IWA Team are on their way home too. The last time I had written was when we were on our way to Siem Reap. In effort to experience the full breadth of he travelling experience, I came down with food poisoning and hence have been MIA in writing.

A misconception that I had before coming here was that Angkor Wat was the only temple near here, as it is certainly the only one that ever gets much press. However, I quickly learned that this whole area is blanketed with various wats and other structures that were built beginning in the 800s by a long succession of Hindu and Buddhist Khmer rulers.

Our first full day in Siem Reap was spent exploring three areas: Angkor Thom (the largest of all the ancient Khmer cities and famous for its multitudes of face towers), Ta Prohm (a ruined sandstone monument that is being taken over by the jungle), and the famous Angkor Wat (which appropriately translates to ‘city pagoda’). I will leave you now with the beautiful images of these ancient places – enjoy!

ANGKOR THOM
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TA PROHM
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ANGKOR WAT
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Posted in Cambodia | Tagged ,

A Day of Meditation

Team IWA concluded its mission to Cambodia with a daylong meditation retreat. 21 volunteers spent the day together in a lovely, spacious apartment in Phnom Penh. The morning was spent in silence with sitting and walking meditation led by Jeff Hardin and yoga led by Terry Lesser. After a delicious catered vegetarian lunch, Beth Goldring and Stav Zotalis, two women involved in aid work in Cambodia presented their perspectives on working meditatively with the hardships and suffering rampant in Cambodia. The daylong was concluded with members discussing how they made sense of all they had experienced over the 2 weeks. It was a beautiful and meaningful way to spend our last day in Cambodia.

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Daylong retreat

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Morning meditation

Posted in Cambodia