HSC Sri Lanka: Accept the Unexpected

  • By Hope Worldwide
  • 09 Jan, 2017

“I had no idea that this was going to be such a life-altering experience!”

Over this past Christmas and New Year, a group of singles from all over the world (Australia, Singapore, the US, etc) spent their holidays in Sri Lanka, away from family, serving at a school for underprivileged children, an orphanage for boys, and a pediatric hospital for autistic children. They also greatly encouraged the local church, the Colombo Church of Christ, as you can read in this article written by David de los Santos. David and his wife Nadia are the young couple leading the church in Sri Lanka.

All around the world, 2016 was a year of the unexpected. This year marks the year where our church here in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, officially tripled in size by the hand of God, and that was certainly unexpected! We weren’t expecting an offer to host a HOPE worldwide Singles Corps right here in Sri Lanka, but we accepted it! We were humbled that Sri Lanka would be noticed and served in such an incredible way. While we were putting together all of the projects, I had no idea that this was going to be such a life-altering experience. It was an amazing feeling. One of the hit songs of 2016 was Justin Timberlake’s, “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. He wrote,

“I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We're flying up, no ceiling, when we're in our zone…”

I understand that the song is about dancing, but this is how we felt while serving the children in our groups over here! It was such an incredible feeling to be serving alongside people from all over the world with a shared purpose. A genuine electric feeling could be felt in around us. I was personally moved by the sheer number of disciples that signed up to come to our relatively unknown island country of Sri Lanka. Our hopes and our expectations were exceeded by the volunteers who sacrificed their entire holiday season to just humbly serve a people that they had never met before. These brothers and sisters not only inspired the church, but the community in Colombo as well.

The first three days were spent serving in our HOPE   worldwide   preschool for disadvantaged children. The volunteers were building bookshelves, teaching simple lessons, painting gigantic murals, repainting fading ugly brick walls, teaching hygiene and parenting lessons. We ended our time there with a heartwarming Christmas party, and a surprise visit from Santa Claus to the children!
We got to take a break and visit a beautiful getaway beach in city called Una Wattana. We sat on the beach, talked, took pictures, and laughed for hours. Then we visited Galle and saw towering ancient walls from the kingdom forts of old Sri Lanka. We ended our trip with a fantastic meal under starlight next the ocean. It was a great reminder to us all that a great time is truly a gift from God! And on Christmas day, we had an inspiring service that was overflowing with new visitors and friends. Our room was packed! This was our biggest Christmas service yet, and it was incredibly encouraging to my wife and me.

We spent two entire days at one of the leading children's hospitals in the country, working specifically with autistic children and their parents. Some of the children’s parents travel for countless hours in order to get medicine and counseling for their children, because this hospital is one of the only places in the country where they can receive this kind of help.  

I was shocked when I first walked into the room to see our volunteers, all on their own, striking up deep and meaningful conversations with every single set of Sri Lankan parents. The volunteers encouraged the parents to form a support system for themselves in order to help each other in their difficulties. I was inspired!

Many of the kids will rarely speak with strangers, but the volunteers were so excellent with children, that every single child felt compelled to speak and even play games with our group. What a miracle! The staff was of the hospital couldn’t help but be in awe of such serving hearts in the special needs wing of the hospital. It was a once in a lifetime experience for many of them. It just goes to show that a little love makes a big difference.

Our last days were spent teaching English to orphans of all ages at an orphanage in the city centre. We split up into several small groups, and taught the children basic English. This was no easy task. Sri Lankan schools teach very little English to their students, so our teaching will give them more opportunities for more jobs when they get older. The children desired to learn English and were incredibly respectful to all of our volunteers.  

One of the workers at the orphanage showed me the closets for the children, and some of our volunteers offered to purchase new ones for them! I was shocked! And after that, a volunteer offered to pay to take them out to a movie, and pay for every single child’s ticket. The entire orphanage was strengthened by our actions. They said that they were lucky to have us, but I really believe that we were the lucky ones.

We ended our days with a life-changing spiritual retreat in the palm tree filled outskirts of the city. We started the retreat with three hours of solitary time with God, praying and reflecting on what we had done, and learned during our time in service to others. Then we had lessons for two days about getting out of our comfort zones, and moving forward with faith in God!

Afterwards, our new year’s party began! We started the night with prayer, a message on the cross, and a memorable communion to prepare us for the new year ahead of us, and then we danced the night away! There was an incredible amount of fun, dancing, food, and fireworks.

We had an amazing time. It’s ironic that most people wait all year to go on vacations and shopping sprees that ultimately disappoint them, when our volunteers spent their holiday season serving others, and they had the time of their lives! During our time, I was reminded of when Paul said to the Galatian church in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  

You wouldn’t expect a small group of strangers to sacrifice their holiday season in order to serve other strangers in an unnoticed corner of the earth, but I guess that fits in with 2016’s theme of the unexpected doesn't it? So heading into 2017, I will remember this: If you accept unexpected opportunities with a godly attitude, it will change your life.

Check out our list of sites for 2017! Our theme is “Go and Do Likewise!” as we strive to become more like Jesus:   https://www.hopeww.org/hsc
By Shane Engel 17 Jul, 2017

The team at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary. SKMH opened in April 2012 with the mission to meet the needs of poor children and women of Southern Cambodia. It is managed by HOPE worldwide . Since its opening, nearly 50,000 patients have been touched by the team. On May 26, the hospital honored 31 employees who have served since the hospital’s opening day. Through the dedication of its staff and supporters, SKMH has seen tremendous growth.   Since its opening, the hospital has accomplished the following:

·      More than 140,000 patient consultations with nearly 50,000 new patients

·      71% of visits have been for women and children

·      Nearly 800 children have been born at the hospital since the opening of the Maternity building in November 2014

·      7 Cambodian doctors have graduated from three year hospital training program.

·      Currently employs over 180 people

·      The Neo Natal Intensive care unit opened November 2015. To date the NICU has served 49 children

·      Centralized Medical Gas System for NICU and campus opened in November 2016.

·      Surgical department opened in 2015

·      Surgical team has performed over 360 surgeries in 2016, not including C-Sections. 86 surgeries have been for children

·      Blood bank opened in August 2016

·      A Learning Center for children of hospital staff opened on June 12

Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital has been blessed with international support from medical and administrative partners as well as volunteers from around the world to serve and teach. The local Cambodian staff continues to grow and serves as the primary patient care providers.

The team is grateful for all the support that has been given this past five years; however, there remains more to do. Future development includes the addition of a CT scan, upgraded X-ray diagnostic equipment, continued development of staff training programming and pursuit of international accreditations. Please consider how you can make a difference at the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Go to https://www.hopeww.org/donate . Use the drop down box and select Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. If you wish to learn more about the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, please visit www.skmh.org .

By Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope 22 Jun, 2017
Dr. Phavarine Menh, a member of the Phnom Penh Church of Christ and a HOPE worldwide physician in Cambodia since 1998, recently inspired an international audience at the Cleveland Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio as she became the first international recipient of the “Empathy Amplified” award for compassion and empathy in medical care.

The occasion was the 8th annual conference entitled “Patient Experience: Empathy and Innovation” and was hosted by the renowned Cleveland Clinic (ranked the #2 Hospital in the United States by U.S. News and World Report). The “Empathy Amplified” award goes to only one recipient each year and “Dr. Rin,” as she is affectionately known, became the first ever international awardee.

Overcoming the Odds
Growing up during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, Dr. Rin like so many of her colleagues lost immediate family members and suffered a traumatic childhood with a severe disruption in her education. Despite major obstacles, in 1992 she completed her medical education in Russia and joined the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE staff in 1998. She is well known for her humility, compassion and love for the poor. Her nomination was a surprise, and unknown to her until she received the congratulatory letter from the Cleveland Clinic.

In nominating her, Maricel Manoza, a member of the SHCH finance staff, whose father suffered a stroke and was treated by Dr. Rin, noted her ability to “ understand our fears and motivations and make us feel safe. She restored our hope to a place we thought would never exist ”.

Dr. Rin stated, “It is my privilege to treat sick people, to help them have a better life and restore them to their beloved families.” She praised the culture of “kindness, compassion, integrity and respect” that has long been the hallmark of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE and praised her colleagues whom she felt were equally deserving of the award. She concluded by saying, “Every day I get to go home from work knowing that I made a difference, that I was able to help change a life, change a family, change a nation…one at a time.”


Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified Award

Click here to watch .


A Timely Challenge
She received a standing ovation by over 2,000 attendees as she walked off the stage. Her message is a timely one for all those who heal the sick. In her gentle way, without even knowing it, Dr. Rin laid down a challenge for us all: to rise above our obstacles and make this world a better place through empathy and compassionate service.

To help support the compassionate work of Dr. Rin and many others serving alongside her in Phnom Penh, make a gift today, change a life tomorrow.  
By Hope Worldwide 11 Apr, 2017
Susan Correa, a fashion entrepreneur in New York City has launched a clothing line and committed a portion of the proceeds from every garment sold to support HOPE ww  Children’s Nutritional Optimization Program in Central America. At HOPE  worldwide , our volunteers, donors and business partners are as unique and diverse as the families we serve. We are blessed to have passionate people engaging in many powerful ways. Susan Correa, fashion entrepreneur, philanthropist and member of the New York City Church of Christ, is shaking up the children's fashion industry with a sustainable business model and a compassionate bottom line.

In 2014, in an effort to make a better business model, Susan launched “Empower”, a school lunch program for undernourished children in India. For every purchase from her cooper & ella clothing line, Susan committed to provide a hot, nutritious meal. What started as a simple act of compassion ended up as a contribution of 186,000 meals for children attending a school operated by HOPE  foundation  India. Like most successful entrepreneurs, this was only the first step in her passionate mission to do business better.

In January 2017, Susan launched her new fashion line, art & eden. This new children's clothing line is the result of a two-year process for Susan as she followed her dream to create clothing that is better for the planet, better for the people who make them and better for the people who wear them. This time, a portion of every garment sold will benefit HOPE ww’s  Children’s Nutritional Optimization Program in Central America.

As a part of the HOPE  worldwide  Community Service Brigades, the Nutritional Optimization Program will help children with health challenges feel better, focus better and develop better during their most formative years. Susan’s business has committed to donate 7,000 doses of albendazole to cure 3,500 kids from stomach parasites and 1 million multivitamins to help kids rebuild and maintain health. Improved nutrition gives each child the opportunity to reach their full potential height experience healthy physical brain development and fully mature in their emotional and mental health.

We are so proud to have business partners like Susan as we work together to serve those in need. The fashion industry is taking note of this inspiring social enterprise. Susan’s line and our partnership have been featured on the cover of Smallish Magazine as well as covered by Redbook Magazine, fashion blogs and other industry publications ( www.artandeden.com/blogs/press ). 

PARTNER WITH US! To learn more, please email russ.hargrove@hopeww.org.
By Hope Worldwide 10 Apr, 2017
By Hope Worldwide 10 Apr, 2017

Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:

I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.

We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.

James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.

I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.

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