Bridging the Chasm
There is an enormous, gluttonous chasm in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which threatens to consume the hopes and dreams of any child or caregiver who dare approach it. On one side of this chasm lies dishonour, hunger, ignorance, desperation, aimlessness, and futility; on the other are dignity, health, awareness, responsibility, purpose, and respect. Attempts are sometimes made by those brave (or desperate) enough to make the jump on their own, but most turn away after witnessing others try and fail. Eight years ago, we built a bridge over that chasm. The shape, colour, and size of this bridge have seen much change over the years, but the material has always stayed the same — a Bridge of Hope.
Rescuing Street Children
Children from the age of six can be seen wandering the streets of our city unsupervised and unaccounted for; sometimes they are playing with their friends, other times they are searching for saleable items from the rubbish heaps lying on the roadside. Poverty — affecting the mind, body, and soul — is to blame for this situation. The caregivers are unable to provide for their family’s needs for a host of reasons, some of which they have control over and some of which they do not. Our vision is for these precious people to find the way to fullness, redemption, and true hope. And so, we use hands of compassion, words of encouragement and wisdom.
Looking after the Caregivers
Caregivers in extreme need are given weekly gifts of rice in exchange for the income lost in having their children join us at our project. After anywhere from one to three years of learning literacy and mathematics, using local government curriculum, and learning social skills under the well-trained Cambodian teachers at our project, the children are integrated into the local government school.
Our team is almost entirely local, consisting of 19 Cambodian staff who serve the families holistically during their time with us. There are 85 children whom we serve in many ways: those children who come from extreme situations are provided with their school supplies, including backpacks, shoes, and uniforms; meals are given twice daily for each child studying with us; art, cooking, crafting, and dance classes are regularly offered in addition to practical education on hygiene, nutrition, and addiction awareness. The children have continual access to our local social workers for counselling and to our nurse for medical care, and regularly receive haircuts and dental treatment. Caregivers from around 60 families are welcome to participate in monthly parenting support meetings held in the community, in addition to the regular house-visits they receive from our social workers. Financial “savings groups” have been instituted to highlight the principles and value of financial management while emphasising the vital role that community cooperation plays in healthy living. As our team contributes to the restoration of dignity and self-respect through practical love, it is our prayer that they will continue walking this Bridge to find full redemption and everlasting hope.
If you would like to build your “bridge of hope” for these children and families you can do so by clicking on the donation button on this page. Thank you.