Three weeks ago I got on a plane to go back to Canada after a few weeks spent as a volunteer with Crossing Cambodia. I had no idea that my life would be so changed in such a short period of time. I am a translator so I can take my office with me on the road, and I also do administrative logistics and so I spent some time helping Crossing Cambodia by providing office support for nearly six weeks.
I have to admit that when I first embarked on that journey I had business in mind like when I am the office manager of an even. I never thought I would be transformed along the way. Staying for a longer period of time allowed me to see beyond what I saw the first time I visited Cambodia. Of course, I could talk about the poverty, the vulnerability of the children to trafficking, the reality of third world countries. But you’ve heard a lot about that and I will invite you to view the amazing clip “Compassion unbound” that Greg did a few months ago. He presents this a lot better than me.
I spent most of my time observing and working alongside Greg and his team. The first 2 weeks, I focused on creating a database that would allow them to use an iPad and produce a record for every child that attends one of Crossing Cambodia’s ministries/programs. This way it becomes possible to better follow up on the children. Sokly (Crosssing Cambodia’s Ministry Director) spent time learning how to use the database and to make changes to it and I also got to spend time with her to help her learn to do filing and expense reports while I worked with Greg on other projects. In the days that followed I got to witness Greg’s excitement about finding a new place to allow Crossing Cambodia to grow!
That is the part of the trip that I prepared for… It is the rest that God surprised me with. Working with the Crossing Cambodia team, I met people who are the most compassionate, loving, dedicated, and caring that I’ve ever met. They taught me so much about being God’s hands and feet, and about God’s unconditional love. We often mention that knowledge is not enough, that we have to walk the talk. Well that is what I witnessed! Greg, Sokly, Viya and Yusep are caring so much for the children who are visiting Crossing Cambodia’s center. They provide them with education, but also give them delicious and balanced meals. They treat them with respect and dignity, and they provide them with a sense of security. They teach them about the love of God and about the hope that you find in such love. And they don’t just apply these during work hours; they apply these values to their life 24/7. They rely on their faith and live to serve God.
After a few days I also started to know the kids more. Children are not easy for me and we had to build the relationship slowly but surely! I realized that where ever they are, kids are kids and they want to be kids! No matter what they go through, when they have a chance, they want to feel loved and safe, but also play and goof around! They all touched my heart in their own way, some more than others!
The people at Crossing Cambodia, staff and children, are helping Cambodia one day at a time, one kid at a time and one gesture at a time. Spending time with them taught me about Love, about culture and about Cambodia. I am a better person because I was with them for a few weeks.
I left Battambang three weeks ago and I miss them like crazy. There is not one day where I don’t look at the price of flights because I want to go back. Thank you Greg for inviting me and helping me make sense of all the questions I had. Thanks to the kids for touching my heart and making me feel alive. Thanks to Yusep for being the son I could never have. Thanks to Viya for being like a little sister so full of life and for teaching me about Cambodia. And thank you Sokly for being such a good friend for life! Most of all, praise God for leading me down that path and for giving such a life changing opportunity.
I am Crossing Cambodia… How about you?? Please support them, so they can keep on helping the kids of Cambodia have hope that tomorrow will be a great day!
Isabelle Carriere came all the way from Montreal to volunteer with us in Cambodia and help teach our staff how to run an office and helped us to set up a database for storing information about children in our programs. While she presently has gone back to Canada, Izzy now helps Crossing Cambodia by receiving information about students and assembling sponsorship reports and by helping us to develop documents for volunteers, teams, and general policy. Although we are eagerly awaiting her promised return to Cambodia where she will continue to help us on the ground!