Our first project, Restoration of Children began in 2010 and over the years as we visited we have seen so much improvement in the appearance of the children. You can tell the families and the communities are doing better because the children are in clean uniforms, have their books and are healthy. There is an energy about them that was missing when we first started.
Today we visited Pray Prum, a village that was added to RVC in April. It is a two-hour drive from Battambang, down really bad roads. This village is very near the Thai boarder and most of the parents are there working, leaving the children in the village attended only by their elderly grandparents. We pulled up to what was basically a very small barn that had been converted to a church. A very shy disabled man from the village with hardly any education is teaching our supplemental class.
I stood in front of these children after hearing about the sexual abuse every 6 out of 10 have experienced, some as young as five. They are everyone of them filthy, clothes torn and tattered, scars mar their faces and malnutrition and sickness haunts their eyes. I asked them questions, I looked into their sweet faces and as I prayed for them I couldn’t keep from being overwhelmed by emotion. There is so much pain and suffering in a room full of babies and there was nothing I could do in that moment to stop it or make it better. Our class is a first step and every child there was so happy for the opportunity to learn. Some want to be doctors and other teachers and several boys mechanics – so they can make their village a better place.
Standing there unable to do something in that moment was so difficult and left me feeling so helpless; I don’t like to feel helpless. I like to look at the problems, trouble shoot, then make and implement a plan. I’m so thankful for our partner Kone Kmeng. They have such wonderful discernment on when it is best to act and how it is best to act in order to affect change in each community. Like us they want to teach the people how to fish today so they can feed and care for themselves in the future. So many organizations think they help when they come give everything that’s needed. I’ve come away with a list of immediate needs for this community – but if we give it all to them they will continue to stand with their hands out waiting for more and all we’ve done is create a dependent community. Instead we will take steps to provide loans so the families can start businesses – bring their young parents back form Thailand and begin to protect and provide for these children. We will equip this sweet teacher to improve his skills and we will build up a group of leaders that will take the initiative to change their community. It takes more time but in taking our time we will forever change a community and future generations will not suffer as this one does.
As always, your prayers are vital for the transformation of hearts and minds. Also for the workers who walk amidst the disparity in an effort to change lives and bring hope.
Blessings from Cambodia,