[top photo: Lim Li Lian is afraid of needles but she donated blood for the sake of the children at Jayavarman VII Hospital in Cambodia.]
Lim Li Lian, 30, has always been adventurous when it comes to travelling, trying anything new and doing as the locals do. This entrepreneur covered most of Europe when she was a student there, learning cultures and picking up languages.
As charity and the environment are topics close to her heart, Lim joined a programme called Rock Your World Cambodia early last year, which focused on issues of the heart and culture.
"Culture, because Cambodia has a lot of interesting history, from the days of Angkor Wat to the recent history of the Pol Pot regime. Heart, because this is a trip where we can contribute, give back and make a difference. I knew that it would be a very meaningful trip both for me and the people I would come into contact with," says Lim.
Distributing provisions to villages on bicycles.
Besides visiting tourist attractions like Angkor Wat, the group was exposed to the local community through children's hospitals and orphanages, schools, rehabilitation centres for landmine victims and remote villages.
"Visiting the schools was an amazing experience. We bought school stationery, books and food for the children. It was heart-warming to feel the sincere welcome from both the students and teachers. The smiles on their faces and their joy as we distributed the materials were priceless. They have so little but they are filled with joy and hope.
"I felt very blessed to be a part of this. It reminded me of the simple things in life that makes one happy," says Lim.
Lim visited many floating schools along the Mekong.
"It was the dry season so we were able to cycle on bamboo bridges and sandy trails along the Mekong. We stuffed whatever food and provisions we could into our backpacks and the front baskets of our old bicycles and cycled through these narrow, sandy lanes until we reached small villages.
"We stopped to give food to the villagers. We kept handing out all that we had until we reached a school. There, we challenged the kids to a game of football, which they won! It was so much fun laughing and playing with them," recalls Lim.
One for the album after a friendly football match which the children won.
One of Lim's most memorable experiences was a visit to a rehabilitation centre for landmine victims.
"The first thought that came to mind was: how can humans create such cruel inventions? I won't forget the story of one man who was trained and forced to plant landmines when he was a child during the Khmer Rouge reign. Today, he and his wife have dedicated their lives to de-mining Cambodia.
"Cambodia has a very sad history, a history that continues to disturb me as to how cruel human beings can be. But despite everything, it is encouraging to see the hope and optimism in the people's eyes," Lim says.
Another memorable experience for her was when she donated blood for the first time at Jayavarman VII Hospital, a children's hospital founded and run by Dr Beat Richner.
"This Swiss doctor has dedicated his life to the children of Cambodia. It's amazing the work he does to save lives. I wanted to help, and the only way I could was to donate blood. I'd never done it before and was afraid of needles, so I focused on the thought that my blood would be helping some kid's life.
"We also spent a day at a local orphanage, taking the kids out to play and eat ice cream and buying them a month's supply of food. It was nice to see them happy."
Following that, Lim went on another trip with the group in October, to Egypt. She is planning to embark on another community journey to Mexico in September.
-The Star/Asia News Network