6 of us from 2 churches in Perth spent 11 days in Cambodia consisting of three predominant visits. (Photo Show Here.)
1. Helping out with the work of Hagar International. As you can see from the post below, they have recently taken ownership of a massive factory from Nestle. It is worth in excess of US2.2 mill. It has forklift, all milk production equipment for their soya project and heaps of floor space for all their craft and design programmes.
Hagar Design products are sold through retail channels in America, Europe and Asia-Pacific as well as in Phenom Penh and Siem Reap. Every Hagar Design product is specially crafted to enrich personal lifestyle, as well as the lives of its skilled artisans. Each purchase further empowers Cambodian women and children in their quest for a meaningful future.
Hagar Design provides employment to women and men who have gone through Hagar’s prevention and rehabilitation programs.
Soya Milk – From small beginnings producing 300 litres a day of fresh soya milk and tofu, Hagar Soya Company Limited has grown into a fully commercialised, innovative business. With help from the International Finance Corporation’s Mekong Private Sector Development Facility (MPDF), Hagar Soya is leading the way in new technology and large-scale production in Cambodia’s beverage industry. Founded in 1998, Hagar Soya provides jobs for women and men graduating from Hagar’s prevention and rehabilitation programs.
We had one small corner of their massive new factory to work in, and work we did! We had to convert what was once a workshop and storeroom into a baby day care facility for the kids of women who have been taken out of abusive situations and rescued from forced sex trade.
We smashed new windows and doors through, we cleaned, removed a huge roof section, we scrubbed, concrete rendered, cleaned some more and painted and then created some stunning murals to create a real ‘playful’ feel.
We also visited the Hagar catering training centre for breakfast one morning as well as a visit to the current facility that much of the work will be moving from to the new factory. It was moving seeing the kids for whom we had been preparing a new shelter.
By providing a meal catering service, Hagar Catering improves the nutrition and health of hotel staff and garment factory workers while creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged Cambodians.
The business supplies meals to staff at the five star hotels Raffles Le Royal and Intercontinental, and the New Islands garment factory.
Hagar Catering has also launched a facility management service for industrial cleaning and laundry management.
Some of our group also visited Hagar’s ministry to disabled children, a very moving encounter.
The other moving encounter some of our group had was a dinner with some of the young girls rescued from the sex slave industry. These girls are on a great healing journey and saying more here or including photos of them is not honourable or in some cases, still not safe for them as there are still legal issues going on.
2. The second main place we visited was the ministry of a local indigenous church called The Followers of Jesus Church. Pastor Ming welcomed us to his church on the Sunday for worship and I was invited to preach.
Later in the week he took us to a local rubbish tip in which his church has started a school. At first he was paying the families 50cents a day to have their kids not pick rubbish but attend school, after a while the families saw the value and are now sending their kids with not payment required. They are building a new school alongside their current, very small facilities. This is a small but wonderful work being done by some very committed believers. We walked into visit some locals in their slum type dwellings. It was moving to see how they live there.
Ming pointed up to a woman squatting in her doorway with obvious acid burns to her face. (We are told this was from an abusive relationship), Ming said to me, “That lady has recently gave her life to Christ”. I looked at her and she smiled at me and waved, and as I did I realised this was my sister in Christ, I sensed this odd and powerful bond with her as she smiled and looked into my eyes. I had to look away as tears poured down my cheeks.
Ming also has an orphanage out in the country we were unable to see this time.
3. We visited an orphanage called Soovanahpoom. This is overseen by a couple of Australians call John and Tess Castledine from SA it is connected to a group called Community Care. The orphanage houses about 60 – 70 kids. They are building a big new building just around the corner as the Mekong river is washing away at the foundations of the current building, it is slipping into the river. In fact you are on an angle as you sit in the main meeting room.
We spent 3 days on this island on the Mekong. We slept under mossie nets on the floor, right where all the kids were. We did some labour on the new building sight, we help herd goats, we taught in the school, we played games and distributed toys and clothes we had brought with us.
The clothes were all brand new clothes donated by Pumpkin Patch children’s clothing chain. The kids looks so proud of themselves when they came out on Sunday morning dressed in their new “Sunday Best”. (Special thanks to Tracy, my Sister for organising such a gift for us)
After a long 3 days on the island, and it was LONG (The day starts at 5am each day, and as we were not used to dogs, cats, rats and whatever the other noises were we slept VERY lightly!) we walked down the mud track to the main town in silence, deeply moved by the farewell songs and gifts from the kids in the orphanage, deeply challenged by what I saw as a model of mission and ministry that I was not familiar with, yet needing to acknowledge that these kids were now alive and eating because if this work.
We caught the bus 5 hours north to finish our trip with a fascinating day wandering around the amazing World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.
World Heritage Lister Angkor Wat