Youth expedition widens Ngee Ann Poly student's horizon
Ngee Ann Poly student recounts trip to a spartan Cambodian hospital
The beds had no mattresses. The hospital was severely understaffed - there were just two nurses and a doctor caring for 40 patients. There wasn't even food for the patients.
That was the reality that hit a group of students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Health Sciences when they visited the Baray Santuk Referral Hospital in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia.
Said second-year nursing student Sebastian Oh: "We were really shocked to see the condition in which the patients stayed in.
"The beds had no mattresses on them and the patients had to supply their own. Otherwise, they would have to lie down on hard wooden planks and shaky bed frames.
"A basic necessity such as food is not served at the hospital, so if the patients' relatives don't go to feed them, they will starve."
The group of 38 students went on a Youth Expedition Programme (YEP) to Cambodia from Feb 25 to March 10.
Besides applying what they had learnt in school, the students cleaned up the spartan premises, washed and painted the bed frames in the wardsand gave the hospital building a fresh coat of paint - all within 10 days.
Calling the trip an eye-opener, Mr Oh, 24, shared his experience at the YEP Photojournalism Exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore last Sunday.
At the same event, National Youth Council's (NYC) chief executive officer David Chua said his organisation was looking into enhancing the YEP experience for students.
A basic necessity such as food is not served at the hospital, so if the patients’ relatives don’t go to feed them, they will starve.Nursing student Sebastian Oh on the conditions at the Cambodian hospital
They include organising joint projects with the programme's South-east Asian counterparts, introducing visits to key cities and significant developments in the programme, and increasing the range and types of programmes to cater to the interests of the young.
Mr Chua added that there will be 6,000 volunteering and engagement opportunities for youth offered in Asia each year, up from 4,000.
Said Mr Chua: "The YEP has always been about broadening perspectives.
"We encourage our participants to develop an Asean perspective to reinforce the existing Singaporean perspective and know where they stand.
"The YEP is beyond school, and it offers students a guided, free space to search, explore and reflect."
Since the programme's inception in 2000, Youth Corps Singapore, an institution under the NYC, has supported more than 32,000 young people and 1,300 expeditions to Asean countries, China and India.