Home » Cambodia » ‘Big sister, look what I did!’

Davin is a little boy who often wears a different shoe on each foot (see top photo), based on what his parents were able to scavenge from the garbage dumps to provide for him and his siblings. If other kids picked on him for whatever reasons, Davin could throw a good punch or kick with all his might.

When the children from the informal settlement were first introduced to Play-Doh, Davin did not know what to do with it. He would sit day after day, looking at me while I was demonstrating, and at the other kids attempting to sculpt a number of objects.

One day Davin discovered that he could make a mess with the dough. Wow! That was a revelation, and it brought him a lot of joy. The smile on his face was precious!

Coloring was a new experience for Davin as well. He moved the crayon busily, but the color did not appear on the paper. Slowly he learned to adjust the pressure on his fingers and made stronger strokes. When the children are done with coloring, their “arts” are posted on the wall for all to view.

Each kid has a chance to come up in front of the class to talk about her or his own masterpiece. Some kids are shy about this, but not Davin; he could hardly contain his excitement.

Davin at art show-and-tell

Prior to his exposure to sculpting and coloring, Davin was quite wild and rough—just as most of his classmates—ever so ready to argue and fight any time and anywhere. Nowadays, Davin is able to keep quiet and be still for some moments and to listen to me and other kids during class time, while he is waiting for his turn. He is more polite and interested in getting his hands to do new things besides pinching and punching.

Davin is not alone. Other children from his neighborhood are also making very good progress. Davin regularly and proudly hollers to me: “Bong srey! Bong srey! Muul kon thuo doik ni!” (Big sister! Big sister! Look what I did!)

 

Hang Tran Hang Tran
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 2013, Hang Tran works at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.