Cambodia is a country with long and rich traditions. Its people are friendly, industrious and gracious. But in recent decades this southeast Asian country has endured the immense pain and anguish of war and the ravages of HIV/AIDS. As its economy has suffered in the midst of this turmoil and many rural people are drawn to larger centres for work and opportunity, the country has also witnessed the devastation of many of its younger generation as young boys and girls are drawn or forced into prostitution or become victimized by sex tourism in all its destructive ugliness and depravity. However, despite the images of seedy devastation broadcast on international news, the spirit of the Cambodian people to love and care for its own people has not been quenched.
Place of Rescue is an orphanage and AIDS hospice in the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh. Founded by Canadian missionary Marie Ens, Rescue is operated and staffed by Cambodians and endeavours to raise the children to know and respect their Cambodian culture while also experiencing first-hand the love of Jesus through the lives and testimony of the Place of Rescue staff.
Along with providing care for families where both parents are ill with AIDS and the orphans they and others leave behind, Rescue is also home to two other groups: grannies who have been left in poverty and without care due to the prevalence of the disease among the younger generation and young, unwed pregnant factory worker girls who (many having come from rural areas to look for work in the capital) have been abandoned by the father of their unborn child.
Now in it’s sixth season, Place of Rescue is beginning to see some of its young children grow to become teenagers and young adults. After receiving elementary and high school education at Rescue, many are beginning to leave the safety and security of Rescue to find work or attend vocational training school in the capital. To facilitate an easier shift to independence for these young people, Rescue is now establishing a Transition Home in the capital.
Two adjacent residential lots have been purchased and combined into a single property. One existing house on the property is in decent condition and has undergone extensive refurbishing. The other was demolished and on Saturday, May 30 I will land in Phnom Penh with a small eMi team to spend a week in the refurbished house to design a 3 storey Transition Home on the adjacent vacant space. More than a simple residence, the Transition Home will incorporate segregated housing for boys and girls, residences for house parents as well as integrated communal spaces.
Our team will include an architect who will design the facilities, another architect to investigate and assemble project management documents (budgets, construction timelines etc) and create as-built drawings to document the existing house and property, a structural engineer to design the multi-storey structure and a civil engineer intern from UC Berkely. As the team leader, I will coordinate all activities, hold the measuring tape…basically whatever the team needs in order to do its work!
The wife of our architect is coming with us and during the week will be teaching English at Place of Rescue to fill this need because the ex-pat English teacher for most of the school year had to return home overseas. Our work will also be supplemented in-country by a former eMi intern, an engineer specializing in water supply and sanitation who now lives in Phnom Penh. This engineer will be providing advice for remediation measures for current sanitation infrastructure problems at the orphanage property.
Please pray with us and for us as our team from Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, San Jose and San Antonio travels to serve Place of Rescue. We will be praying for sensitivity and understanding of the local culture, travel safety as we travel to Cambodia and on the streets of Phnom Penh. We will also be praying for all our families at home as they carry on they busyness of life without those of us on the team.
You can see more details of the project by visiting the link under Upcoming Projects at the top of the right side bar of my blog. You can also visit the Place of Rescue website at www.placeofrescue.com. Thank you to all our supporters and friends who have come alongside my family and me in so many different ways, making it possible for me to be a part of this work.