Girls Visit Cambodia
After four days of adventures and travels, we arrived in Cambodia’s main city, Phnom Penh. A smiling Amarja, US citizen and Cambodian volunteer met us at the airport, and after hugs and a photo escorted us to our tuk-tuk and new friend, the driver Pao. Tiredness melted away as our eyes adjusted to the humidity, the fact that we were weaving though a city on the back of a motorbike pulled wagon ( un-heard of in Swaziland) and the new and colorful fast paced life in front of us, as we sped through town towards our new home for the next 2 weeks. Amarja pointed out brothels and restaurants, karaoke bars and tourist attractions on our drive to her house, the place was noisy and smelt foreign, yet exciting. Welcome ladies, you have arrived in Cambodia!
The story starts with a vision and love for prostitutes and abused women that the Lord placed in Joanna’s heart before she was even a teenager. We were waiting upon the Lord one Saturday morning when the Lord spoke to Joanna about His heart for the restoration of the lives of women caught up in the sex trade and prostitution. At New Hope Centre we take very seriously the vision the Lord gives all His children, and to save the broken hearted and fight for justice is high up there in the Lords to do list. So guided by Dr Elizabeth, Joanna for many years has been praying about this passion and dream to help that the Lord has placed within her.
In 2011, Dr Cherry from the US heard of Joanna’s amazing vision and wanted to help this young woman walk further into the plans the Lord has for her. She knew a beautiful young lady, Amarja, volunteering in Cambodia, working with Prostitutes.
Ms Rachael, our Australian volunteer, also with a heart and vision from the Lord for sexually abused women and the vulnerable. The two of them started praying asking God for finance to go on a learning visit and God in His faithfulness provided. Very soon, the girls were in Johannesburg ready to fly to Asia, to learn, to shine, to minister and to see a different sort of justice in action.
Some of our experience’s...
Cambodia is beautiful, firstly the people are humble, sweet and joyful, so much like Swazis, yet the city is a never ending hive of activity, traffic, noise and unusual smells, quite unlike Swaziland.
We stayed with Amarja and her fellow volunteer friends and were cared for so well. Each of the young women we stayed with works in different avenues of intervention, care and support for prostitutes as well as boys and girls sold into trafficking.
Amarja lined up interviews and visits at many organizations so we could learn and get a big picture view of the issues and solutions currently active in Phnom Penh. Also we had a few opportunities to minister and share life, this was not our purpose, but when you carry God himself, its inevitable J.
We both shared our testimonies and our gifting’s at the beautiful Bloom cafe, a vocational training center, making the cutest cup cakes I ever dreamed of. I remember as Joanna shared her testimony, seeing girls and staff around the room tearing up. God used us to bring life, encouragement and hope. Joanna also led worship at Daughters, at their weekly church service. Daughters is an organization also doing vocational training and offering many different levels of support and outreach including a newly opened prayer center. The atmosphere was tough as Joanna started to sing with a Khmer staff member at the front, but things started to break as the Ladyboys, and girls stared to sing along to the songs Joanna led in their own language, it created an ‘origninal’ sound, but I’m sure a sweet noise of worship and thanksgiving to the Lord.
Daily the Lord ordered our steps, and we met many inspiring and beautiful people who we were able to minister to, and were more than blessed by.
Amarja also organized some fun stuff to do and explore, like crossing the massive Mekong river to visit Silk Island, and taking a tour of the city and some of its notable temples. There were a few African people in Cambodia, but truly no one had ever seen a beauty like Joanna before, and many were amazed at her unique braided hair. Another fun and new experience for a brave teenager.
We are excited to see what the Lord will do with our learning’s and the work He has done in us, during our stay in South East Asia. Already there is good fruit coming from our short time of learning and travels. Our heart is that Heaven will be seen on earth, and for this to happen, things must change, child slavery must stop, respect, love and hope must be established. Condemnation and fear must dissolve, faith, courage and rejoicing must be heard from our lips.
Wherever we are, and who ever you are, we must fight for justice, and actively defend the cause of the vulnerable, the widow, the orphan, the child. In the book of James the Lord summarizes true religion is to care for the orphan and the widow, and justly so. And as we fight for justice, establishing love, the Lord will help you, guide and lift your head, because you are working for the Lords agenda.
We want to thank all those who were praying with us as we went, for your support and encouragement. We want to thank all those who generously gave to help us learn and grow for 2 weeks in Cambodia. We want to thank all those who honor the visions the Lord gives people, and encourage people, from the little child to the elder, to become all the Lord created them to be and to do.
Bless you and love!
Rachael and Joanna pose outside Bloom Cafe in Phnom Penh. The training center / ministry is led by the passionate Ruth and Murry, who through discipleship, enterprise and baking and helping turn lives around. The girls there even have the honor of making cakes for the royal family!
Rachael, Joanna and Amarja pose with the most beautiful cakes you ever saw at Bloom cafe in Phnom Penh.
Our first morning in Phnom Penh, after 4 days traveling. This is at an Arts School. This photo is of the students there cooking lunch – ‘Cambodia Cheese,’ a fish paste with yummy soup
During our stay we visited the following NGO’s and ministries ...
Daughters of Cambodia, and Sons of Cambodia – www.daughtersofcambodia.org
Agaphe International Mission, Cambodia -
Bloom Cafe – www.bloomcreations.org
International Justice Mission
Precious Women – www.preciouswomenministry.org
Hard places – www.hardplaces-community.org