When most people think of Kenya, or Africa in general for that matter, they probably think things like: dry, hot, profound poverty, etc. However what I saw was none of those things. I saw life, joy, love, and true wealth. Throughout my time in Kenya, God opened my eyes to see the things that He values, the things that are truly important.
To be honest when I found out I was selected to go to Kenya, I wasn’t fired up at all. I had a couple of options ahead of Kenya on my list of Youth Corps destinations, which were all a lot more within my comfort zone. It wasn’t very long until I realized that it didn’t matter where I wanted to go. I didn’t choose Kenya, God did. He had a reason and I’m glad He chose Kenya because I would not have wanted to go anywhere else.
On the second day we got right to work and there was a lot to do. We started off the day by tearing down the house that both the kids and the goats slept in. One of the walls on the house was on an angle that if subjected to rain, would have caused the entire house to collapse (which gave me a good illustration of the house in Matthew 7:26). After demolishing the house we used the sticks and chicken wire from the old house to build a hut for the goats. During all of that we took a couple breaks to put the roof on the new brick house for the kids.
The third day was spent with a different group of people. With them, we made A LOT of mud bricks (1,169 to be exact). The work was honestly a lot of fun but I found that I wasn’t just there to work. God had brought me to teach me something.
On the morning of the second day Ray, the campus ministry leader, gave a devotional on Acts 3. The passage is the account of Peter and John healing the man at the Beautiful Gate. Peter and John didn’t have money to give but instead they healed the man. It got me thinking about what I have to give as a disciple. I can serve, love, be joyful, kind, generous, etc. and as we served I saw these qualities in my fellow Youth Corps members and especially in the people we were serving. They had so little physical and material wealth but they were so rich in love and joy. Their love, their joy, their sense of family, their giving, just their hearts showed me what truly matters in this world is not the luxuries that we have in America or any first world country. They possess the wealth that is truly desirable.
This is why God brought me here. I needed to see what I have to give is what was given to me by God. The Gospel, the Fruits of the Spirit, the Kingdom were all given to us as gifts by God and I realized keeping these things to myself is absolutely detrimental to the lives of thousands, millions, billions of people. We have SO much to share and give.
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.