HOPE Youth Corps (HYCs) all around the world require financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual sacrifice from their participants and leaders. But for every area in which they sacrifice, they receive a hundred fold in return. Such was the case with the recent HYC in Philadelphia which reached its completion in June. Over the course of 12 days, the 20 participants and the leaders experienced and learned lots serving both in Schwenksville, PA, and in North Philadelphia. Although the trip started and ended in June, the fundraising and planning efforts began months before then, and the impact of the trip has already extended far beyond that time frame.
Over the first couple days of the trip, our team was able to work with One Day At A Time (ODAAT), an organization that helps individuals recovering from all sorts of situations in the neighborhoods of North Philly. Started by the now deceased Henry “The Rev” Wells, ODAAT runs several half-way houses throughout North Philly where people getting out of prison, overcoming addictions, or dealing with HIV/AIDS can receive support. The HYC team was able to clean out one of the main administrative buildings that ODAAT runs, as well as help set up for an upcoming charity concert that was scheduled for later that week. Out in the surrounding neighborhood, our team had the opportunity to help repaint some city blocks as well as do some landscaping in some of the nearby lots and playgrounds. Many of the participants were taken aback by how grateful and appreciative the members of the community were. Despite the perceived “rough” appearance of the neighborhood, many passersby stopped to share kind words or even brought water for those working out in the sun. What appeared to have the greatest impact on our team was the stories that those who worked with ODAAT shared from their own lives. Hearing about what the neighborhood and the individuals have been through and some of the current situations went a long way in showing the our HYC team what exactly we were helping accomplish in the short time we were there.
Camp Miracles is a mentoring program that is run throughout the summer at CHFK. Children aged 8-16 from North Philadelphia and from Highland are paired up with mentors for a week of camp. Not only do the mentors and their mentees get to experience all the excitement of camp that rock climbing, zip lining, the pool and just nature in general can involve, but they also get to form friendships that help them both to grow and learn from each other. The HYC participants went above beyond as mentors, with some getting gifts for their mentees, and all of them giving their mentees the time and energy to make camp extra special. Apart from the everyday camp activities already mentioned, there was also a talent show where the kids could showcase their talents for all the Camp Miracles and HYC participants as well as the Pre-teen camp that was being run at CHFK simultaneously. Particularly touching was when one of the kids from North Philly got to sing, the crowd rushed the stage like it was a concert by a world famous performer. The smile on the kids face from all the attention was a reminder of what Camp Miracles is all about. On the last day of Camp Miracles, the kids got to showcase their talent once again in a group song and dance performed for the donors that make Camp Miracles and the other programs run out of CHFK possible. The farewells and goodbyes that followed shortly after the show were sad but hopeful. It was evident that camp is a highlight of the year for the kids coming from North Philly and Highland, and the HYC participants are a big part of what makes it so special.
Apart from serving at CHFK and in North Philly, our team also had the opportunity to serve and fellowship with the Midtown Region of the Greater Philadelphia Church of Christ. Our HYC team was able to assist with singing songs during worship, as well as sharing in front of the congregation for the welcome and the sermon. We were also able to serve and learn from the campus ministry in Philadelphia with two days of reaching out and sharing our faith on the campuses of Temple, Drexel and Penn Universities. On campus we were able to hold several Bible discussions which the HYC participants got to lead. A number of students who we reached out to on campus came out to these Bible discussions, and have started studying the Bible to figure out their relationship with God as a result.
Being able to meet both physical and spiritual needs like this is what HYC is all about. All the planning, money, travel, sweat, tears and energy that went into this HYC were all worth the end results. Although the memories made, the fun that was had, and even the fact that the trip didn’t go over budget are all great results in their own way, they pale in comparison to the way that lives were impacted both physically and spiritually. This applies as much to our HYC team as it does for the people we served. For every way in which we met the needs of those we served, our needs were met by the community in North Philly and those at CHFK. We all learned lessons from each other that will last a lifetime. One of the participants has already made the choice to make Jesus Lord of her life and be baptized! The long reaching impact of this HYC is already apparent.
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.