The True Meaning of Community

By: Eva Marie Gamboa

As adults, sometimes our brains are wired in such a way that we only focus on facts. We often memorize and learn things from school lessons, lectures, and books, and forget to ignite our imaginations and define things with our hearts. This usually does not pose a problem with me. But one day, I was made to realize that seeing things with your heart can make things mean a whole lot more.

I, along with my friends, was on a boat in a floating village at Cambodia’s biggest lake when the guide asked us, “Do you know what the meaning of “Community”is?”

Being the adults that we are, we immediately gave him the dictionary definition of “community”. His English wasn’t that good so we thought he just wanted to confirm his understanding of the word.

He smiled at us and said, “No. “Community” here means no government and no companies. It means everybody in this village is helping one another. See that small school? It houses 300 kids and we feed them three times a day with help from our “community market” and the donations from the boat companies. The boat companies are run by the people of this village and they donate part of their earnings to help the community.

We were stunned. Not only because we were touched by the story and his very unique tour, but also because of how those people were able to bring the meaning of a common word to whole different level.

I was supposed to be off work that week. But after that tour, all I could think of were my teammates, the kids that we serve, and the communities that we are trying to help.

How wonderful would it be if everyone understood this word in the context that that village presented to us? Imagine if we all worked together, broke down the walls of social division, for the common good of all.

I left that area with a thankful heart. Even if the Foundation is still small and our reach is limited, we are still able to touch the hearts of others and make them feel what community truly means. I am thankful that we are able to show kids that there is hope. If we continue to work hand in hand, we can build a better community.