This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the Jakarta Hope Youth Corps, which also happened to be my first ever HYC. I had heard about it constantly from friends who had participated in various youth corps, but never had the chance to join one myself. I made the decision to apply because I wanted to be pushed in my relationship with God, as my walk with God had defaulted into something comfortable and convenient.
On this youth corps we had various roles for this project; we were teaching, building a wall and constructing toilets. We had children from Grades 1-6 who we taught Math, English, and played countless simple games. I knew from the start, that this was going to require a lot of patience and perseverance, but only after I left the classroom on the first day did I realize just how challenging it was going to be to make real connections with these children. In my friendships, and even when evangelizing, I was so accustomed to relying on the connection made from dialogue, and using that verbal communication as a basic foundation. Because they only spoke their native language; Bahasa, I found myself at a loss with these children.
I desired for the children to understand what we were there for, why we chose to serve in that way, and wanting to build a friendship with them. Initially however, all of that proved somewhat difficult. I didn’t want us to just be teachers, bricklayers or builders to them; I wanted them to understand that we were there because of our love for Jesus, and in turn, our love for them.
It wasn’t until our last day at this site that I realized just how much of a connection we’d made. The children went from shying away from us, to yelling out our names whenever we walked by and giving us high-five’s. There was a young girl, Rebecca, who came up to a few of us and thanked us in Bahasa; we’d learnt our fair share by then. We asked her why she didn’t wear a headscarf like all the other girls and she told us she was the only Christian at her school, that she was persecuted almost every day because of it, and she instantly broke down in tears. In tears ourselves, we then comforted her and wrote scriptures in Bahasa to encourage her. One of the interns from the area happens to know her Uncle, and there’s hope that she’ll attend our church in Bogor!
Shortly before this, the children came running out of their classrooms with their notebooks and pens, each of them wanting our autographs. We exchanged bracelet, hugs, laughs and memories that will never be forgotten! Never could I have dreamed for such a beautiful friendship with these children, it was unconventional; our love was communicated solely through action. They helped me see, the love of God isn’t hindered by anything; not ethnicity, nationality, social class, gender, religion and definitely not even a barrier like language. This HYC really brought to life the phrase ‘Love is seen, not heard’.
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.