Cambodia has been full of activity. On top of our ministry hours we've had 4 extra people join our team for a bit. Rachel arrived on Monday and leaves tomorrow morning after spending a much too short week with us on a pastoral visit and Sam, Sarah and her brother have joined us for a couple of days as well. We've been busy with getting to know Phnom Penh and had the privilege to work alongside another University of the Nations ministry with a Children at Risk focus. They are a team of committed people who spend their week diligently caring for and loving on people who live in a village outside the city. They have many different ministries happening on separate days but one of the ones that we got to help out with was a children's ministry.
The children that attend are mostly from the villages and slums around the area. Most of them are uneducated and a majority of them have stories of abuse and rough home lives. Before the day began we were briefed on what the schedule looked like and the heart behind what they were doing. Their vision is full of good things but the one word that stood out to me was dignity. The entire day is built around giving these children the love and dignity that they deserve.
Starting in the morning with a short exercise routine and some songs, they then spend time washing each child's hair. They patiently sit and give each child a lice shampoo and then brush and braid the girls' hair. Although it would be easy to see this as a job to be done and for nothing other than to save the volunteers from getting lice themselves, the way that they go about it is so much more than that! They arrive ready for the day and set up the shampooing, brushing and braiding stations, make a table for the local nurse who treats any of the children's injuries or provides needed medicines and help the hired barber as he gives out haircuts to those who need it. It's a weekly routine involving a lot of people and a lot of effort - but these children who sometimes don't ever receive any care from their own parents are worth it, and shown that in practical ways. It was a huge blessing to us to be able to join in and wash hair, take photos, do a drama, join in on songs and simply hug these kids who rarely get affection.