A team of Australian women are not being afraid to get their hands dirty. These women are dedicated to serve other women and to make a difference during their 12 trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Get an insight from their trip:
What cultural experiences have you gain from your trips?
We visit the poorest of the poor villages in Phnom Penh and get to see how these people struggle daily just to get enough clean water to drink as they have yet to get plumbing into the village and water is collected in Cisterns which fill during rainy season and they try to make that last until the next rainy season. Stagnant water surrounds their dwellings which consist of one room up on pilings with cross boards going from hut to hut and children often falling in between the cracks to the mirky water below. The hopelessness they face each day as the women take their pushcarts into town to retrieve the rubbish from the sidewalks, placed there by local businesses, and then bring all the garbage back to their houses where they sort through it for anything to eat, wear, or sell.
Destiny Rescue has opened a free day care for these women so they no longer have to take their children along with them. In the day care center we bath,wash their clothes and help to feed them, entertaining them with face painting, bible stories, puppet shows and sing-a-longs. These children weave their way into your heart and leaving is so very difficult.
Then when we visit the village these children live in we also ask any of the mothers if they would like to have an afternoon out after their work and we pick them up and bring them to a christian owned salon and training center where they have their hair shampooed and trimmed and straight-ironed, which they dearly love. While all this is going on we serve them cold drinks and chat with them through interpreters.
The following day, we bring those same women back into town to have a lovely afternoon tea at a Christian Cafe called “Open Arms!” Owned by the Salon we visited the day before. There we serve the women, give them gifts of lovely organza bags with lotion, shampoo, toothpaste and brush and perfume. then, the best gift they say they ever receive, we take pictures of them after they’ve had their hair done the previous day, have them printed and placed in gift cards and presented to them at lunch. Their faces are exuberant as they run amok from table to table showing their friends how they look in print. None of them have ever had a printed photo of themselves! Can you imagine? Through the interpreters we discover how blessed they feel and they often cry tears of joy as they cannot contain the emotions they are feeling. We bring them a feeling of worth, we bring hope through our interpreter sharing her testimony of love and hope found in their Creator and how precious they are to Him.
Then we move on to Siem Reap where we have the joy of working for People for Care and Learning which is a life-long care center for children rescued from the streets. These children are not adoptable but grow up as a family unit with loving caregivers who live on the premises and nourish and love these guys. They range from around 10 to upwards of 21 but when we last visited they had brought in a 7 year old girl who captivated all their hearts and she became “little sister!” The students here all speak english so we have a lot more freedom in our activities with them as we have no need for an interpreter here.
We go out to a rural village an hour away from the city where we support a school that was built and is supported by one man! He is an ex Buddhist Monk named Koch Seiha, who’s father was murdered by the Khmer Rouge and who’s mother was lost to him at that time. Raised by an aunt who couldn’t afford to feed him, he was taken to a monastery and through several divine interventions was able to go to school and become licensed to be a Tour Director for Angkor Wat and surrounding Temples. His deep desire was to go back to his village and begin a school master as that was what his father before him was. He began a rural school from the proceeds of his profession and rebuilt the original school house, added a library and now has over 400 students who are able to be educated. He is 28 and single! How many men with that description do you know who would lay down their whole life for their village? Seiha also speaks fluent english and about four other languages! He is truly a remarkable young man.
What are some of the changes you seen in the people of your team after your trip?
They have really had their eyes open to the way most of the world lives! They weep in almost every village or center we enter after interacting with the Khmer people it is so very difficult to leave them. Three of the women who went on the last trip are going back in October with us. One of the girls we took is at missionary training school giving her life full time to missions, several others have faithfully supported the work there that touched their hearts and have changed the way they perceive other cultures.
If you are interested in visiting Cambodia i highly suggest you do so with an organization that is able to introduce and immerse you into the culture and not just the tourist side of their beautiful nation. Unless you have interaction with the locals on their level then all you’ve had was a great vacation!
When is your next trip? What are your hopes for the trip?
Our Next trip is in June, dates aren’t set as yet and the one after that is in October! Because we don’t want to overwhelm the organizations we work with we limit our teams to 12. On this next trip we a will also be scouting out a village to adopt for long term ministry.