At the end of the school term and start of the Christmas break, a group of 7 families and 10 extra singles and students, set off for a very different holiday. Strikingly for a HOPE Youth Corps 17 of the 46 were not yet disciples, with some of the younger family members not exactly eager to spend Christmas in Nepal. Two of our older teens had been on HOPE Youth Corps trips before, and I admit I was just a tiny bit jealous of the adventures they were having, so when Ben and Jane Whitworth suggested the idea of a family corps I was eager to join in!
We felt so welcomed and taken care of by the local disciples in Kathmandu and were able to join them for Saturday church and communion in small groups after work on Sunday. The service part of the trip fell into four main groups, the builders (who built a new kitchen room and wall to contain a garden for the school) the carpenters ( who built nine school benches over the week) the teachers ( who taught the 7 classes of children while I delivered teacher training to their teachers) and the computer whizzes (who taught web building, blogging and computer skills at the vocational school). We also brought out clothing , shoes and new school uniforms; bought a freezer for the school; bought and delivered blankets to communities still living in tents after the earth quake and taught parenting lessons.
The media talks about sustainability and volunteer tourism being a problem rather than a help, but I am struck by the fact that the school has been running for 20 years,and is helping these children to better their economic outlook. Any help we give the school is sustainable through HOPE worldwide. My heart was moved by the plight of an elderly woman who had lost her family and home in the earthquake, living in a shelter provided by HWW.We took her a blanket and left her with shoes and a coat. Those individual gifts may not be 'sustainable' but they speak volumes about the love and compassion of Christ for the individual, and the fact we can make a difference in this world one person at a time. The fellowship and bond between the group was fantastic, a time to work together as families and for the non disciples among us to spend extra time with disciples. Helping each other with parenting issues and exposing our children to Jesus call to love and serve other people. HYC can really change hearts as well as serve the needy. Here are just a few quotes from the non Christians on the trip:
"I had underestimated the breadth and depth of the members of your church before coming on the trip." (Age 77, who last visited church 20 years ago)
"Can we get another pizza to give him tomorrow?" (Age 9 after giving their treat to another boy begging on the street)
"The children are just so happy even when they don't have anything"(Age 12)
"I wish some of the people back home could see the results of the faith I see in your lives and how you are serving here because of what you believe." (Age 77 at the end of the trip)
"I hope I will be better in the morning so I can have a quiet time with X ( one of the older teen disciples)" ( Age 13 who hadn't been that excited to miss Christmas at home!)
"Can we go on another Hope trip next year?" (Age 9)
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 .
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
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.