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I know, I plagerized the title of Simon Sinek's book "Together is Better", but he's an eternal optimist, I'm sure he won't mind and could possibly encourage me too. :) My youth spent 2 days folding paper flowers and writing short messages in Khmer to give away to the women working in nail and hair salons and their customers, in a market located slightly outside the capital city of Phnom Penh. That's where Alive Ministries office is. So we figured, we're "in the building", we see these beautiful faces every week, there's so much to chat about when women get their nails and hair done, how about we join in the fun? So last Saturday, in the name of International Women's Day, we gave out flowers and doughnuts! Good things must be shared. Calories too.
It's an amazing feeling and a sense of freedom to make friends and build relationships for the sake of relationships, because I'm genuinely interested in what you do, I enjoy having conversations and listening to stories, I appreciate idiosyncracies and "strange" worldviews. I accept you for who you are. No agenda, nothing to sell, no message to preach. I want to build an open honest friendship, where we can laugh and cry together and do life together because I believe God called us to be in the same geographical location. I'll be here when you need me and I trust that you will do the same for me likewise.
And I think, doesn't this demonstrate the very nature of who I am, a child of God, blessed beyond measure, but like every regular person, living in this world just like everybody else? I don't want to get caught up with the numbers game, evangelizing every soul I meet or put conditions on what i deem as a gift, "take my doughnut and come to church with me". Or even setting goals to our outreach, like eventually building friendships for the sake of.... Nah, maybe I'm too lazy, I don't plan too far ahead as well. In a world where people lie and cheat for selfish gains, butter people up or betray friendships to get ahead and put up false fronts, play different roles to protect themselves, I think we could all do with genuine, unabashedly honest relationships. If discipling a nation (Matt 28) includes providing solutions to problems, the same way that Esther and Joseph did so that we can bring heaven to earth and do things God's way, then I believe building an inclusive community where there is no shame and discrimination, where everyone is accepted and allowed to be themeselves, is a great solution to the issue of worth and value. Or rather the lack of. So WOMEN, you are valuable and precious! Happy International Women's Day! Let's celebrate!
Students who graduated from Marketing Training class
Kingdom of Cambodia. Status? Developing country. GDP annual growth rate? A remarkable 7%. Foreign Direct Investment? $1.8 billion in 2015, 10% of GDP and expected to increase in coming years. Landscape? Changing everyday. Reduction of poverty is expected of both urban and rural households and even the Cambodian riel appreciated slightly this year. In view of rapid change, shouldn't we as donors or volunteers or people engaged in the humanitarian sector, rethink how we "help" this country.
Years ago, I do agree that the poor communities needed houses, people needed dormitories to stay, NGOs came and provided hand-outs, we have to give nutritious food or just food, else starvation and malnutrition was rampant. We provided free education, free bicycles, free wells, free toilets, free everything. But we didn't teach much. Now, we have built an "entitled" generation, some of whom are still waiting for money in the midst of a burgeoning economy.
I would like to propose an alternative idea as I see the economy developing faster than the competency of local people. Instead of building fancy churches or dorms or NGO offices, let's train work skills and soft skills so the buildings won't remain empty. Instead of providing micro-loans or clearing debts, let's teach financial literacy and personal development skills such as intergrity and responsibility, towards personal and corporate monies. No business or NGO can survive if the people are not committed to universal core values. We need people of good character and moral standing to fill buildings, to conduct businesses and to continue to teaching the next generation who will live in a world more similar to ours now than ever before.
Education and training are long, painstaking processes as compared to the quick gratification and success of building houses or feeding slum children. But eventually it is worth it. So I vote for training in every sector of developing nations. Before you give out the sum of money in your hands, do think about how it impacts the current society which has evolved from maybe even last year. If change is the only constant, then the way we approach "helping" needs to change to.
a fun training session for Workplace Preparation
I remember my 1st job more than 10 years ago, how exciting it was to sling a tote bag, put on nice heels and troop into the office. I mean, I came right out of university where we wore our rags and slippers to school everyday. Such a sense of pride and achievement, almost. Yet, I was also left wondering why my direct supervisor was a pain, I didn't how to handle office meetings, culture of meeting and greeting clients and what exactly was expected of a "report". No, they definitely don't teach you such things in school.
I am currently working in an international school in Phnom Penh and I was with a 5-star hotel before. I interviewed staff, train new people and my team comprises locals so I know not to take for granted that everyone will understand office culture, team work, authority, the unspoken "rules" of writing reports and replying emails. If they're not taught the soft skills in universities and if no one purposefully coaches, then how should a young person learn?
One of our organization's goals is to empower young people to be the best employee they can, be part of the team, learn soft skills and be a great help to their supervisors. I feel that with proper training and guidance in office culture, we are also helping employers and businesses do well. If every staff were to function at full capacity, the business succeeds, less wastage of resources and everyone is efficient and effective. If many businesses succeed, then the economy as a whole stands to move forward.
Workplace Preparation is a 12-hour programme that equips and trains young people to handle office culture and learn office etiquette. We cultivate independent thinking, motivate initiative and encourage basic manners and respect. In a nation where values are different, the person with honesty, humility and responsibility will stand out. You too can support our young people by sponsoring them through the Workplace Prep progrmme @ $120/student. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Training the Genesis Community of Trnsformation (GCT) staff team in Phnom Penh
Cambodia is the 2nd country in the world with the most number of NGOs per capita and I believe that these have steadily helped Cambodia climb out of the shambles of devastation after Khmer Rouge. They form such a foundation in education, social services, anti-human trafficking awareness, prevention and rehabillitation, disaster relief and the list goes on. I respect and commend all the good work, most times its just hard work with little rewards.
Whilst the teams are passionate and full of vision to help and empower communities, an area lacking in good governance is administration and organization. And it's not that nobody wants to keep updated records, file papers and do good book-keeping, for the most part, it's just not their strength and they themselves struggle with the day to day management within the sphere of the office.
Alive Ministries goal is to equip young people with office skills to transit from schools to the workplace and this largely entails good time management, organizational skills, being meticulous and careful with our work and just the practical how-tos. Sometimes, it's easy to take it for granted that every organization is also able to have competent support staff. No doubt the office culture of an organization or NGO is different from that of a corporate office, I think its about time to change that mind-set and not accept sub-standard quality of administration. Organizations need to allocate budgets for staff training in various skills, understand some corporate sales and marketing techniques and apply it to fund-raising events, reaching out to donors etc, model corporate work ethics to increase efficiency and effectiveness and manage it somewhat like a business. We can run an organization like a tight ship because we have KPIs, strategies, we understand our strengths and weaknesses and we're highly organized and effective. Except, we're not for profit and our goals are not to make the most money but are mostly altruistic in nature.
We understand that NGOs receive donor funding and not a lot of it goes into administration or training. And rightly so, money should benefit the community and the projects. So Alive is here to make that change with high quality training programmes for NGOs and organizations. If you wish to support us financially, enabling us to train the staff so the entire organization benefits and can do more for the community OR if you are a trainer and want to teach and share your skiills and experience, please drop me an email, email@example.com. Love to hear from you.
Child Labour in Cambodia
Cambodia has been experiencing a burgeoning economy, foreign investment numbers are increasing exponentially. Across the skyline, many buildings for offices, condominiums, mixed commercial properties are sprouting up. The mddle income band is rising. And whilst it looks rosy for Cambodians, who have been trappe in poverty for so long, it seems every such economy divides the rich from the poor sharply. It seems the rich will always benefit greater from such developments. The poorest of the poor end up in a far from ideal situation.
In Phnom Penh, Kandal provinces, children are working at brick factories. In Kampong Speu, children are working in sugar factories, in Prey Veng, children are working in rice mills, in central Cambodia, garment factories. In Poipet, a border town with Thailand, children sneak across to collect recyclables and many a time asked to do "tricks" for foreigners to bring home $5, else they risk being physically abused.
Parents fully support or even encourage their children to work to bring home some money. Many children never go to school or have to drop out of school. Apart from working directly with parents and creating awareness of the importance of education and seeing the continual increase in the number of NGOs that build schools and provide quality free education, we believe that in this generation of young people, there will be those with a heart for chilren and education, who firmly believe in equal access to education and will labour for childrens' rights. We want to stoke the ambers, plant seeds for great dreams, equip the young people to go into the education mountain and impact and influence policies, standards and quality of education, invest in teacher training and incalculate Kingdom values. We believe we can see change happening from within the education mountain. Now, we just need to equip this generation of youth and empower them for their purposes God ordained. It is God's will for Cambodia to operate in Kingdom culture.
Alive Ministries help young people transit from schools to the workplace. We empower young people, through personal development programmes, coaching and mentoring to be effective and postively influence their workplaces.
SHINEWomen and Workplace Preparation courses have been running in Cambodia for a while now. I am quite happy to say with much success. I believe we've built relationships with many young people, sowed seeds into their lives and we're doing life together with them, encouraging and supporting them along the way. But we want to aspire bigger, we want to go further and we want to create spaces for youth to gather where dreams are birthed and nurtured to fruition - hence the concept of a Dream Center.
We dream of an environment where young people can come in to learn and be equipped with skills, a safe place where they can share their hearts, their struggles and be encouraged and loved, a place to develop social skills and strengthen relationships through games and fun activities, a place where simple resources, like access to computers and printers and appropriate clothes and shoes for work can help them towards their career goals. Every person deserves equal opportunities to education and work. We want to bridge the gap and help the less privileged.
We invite you to be a part of this dream! We are looking for sponsors to outfit the center we had rented. We need furniture, tables, chairs, sofas, laptops and computers, printers, shelves, board games, a fridge... Flowers would be nice! Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have creative ideas or would like to contribute financially to building an awesome Dream Center for the youth in Cambodia. Love to hear your stories too.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce one of our girls, whom I have come alongside with for more than a year, Diane. She's a 4th year graphic design student at PPIIA University in Phnom Penh and she's currently doing an internship with a magazine house. She designed the Alive Ministries logo and namecard and I am so proud of her. I first met her when she interviewed for a position to work as Marketing Asst at the hotel I was working at. I hired her because she was humble, teachable, she has a good attitude and because she serves in the community, teaching children in the slums, she is generous, selfless and cares for others. I value these traits, God can use them for His purposes.
I believe God has a great plan for her and for this generation of young people. She came from humble beginnings, living in a children's home for half of her childhood. She stays in a dormitory now and her family is the community who supports and loves her. She blossomed from a shy girl, who didn't have confidence about herself, her work, her destiny to someone who's hungry to keep learning and growing. She definitely came with hurts and baggage but because of the love and encouragement, she will slowly leave those behind and be transformed into a beautiful woman of God. We're committed to teaching and guiding her to make a smooth and successful transition from university to the workplace, equipping her with social and relational skills and mentoring her to be an asset to her employers. She will shine for Jesus in the workplace and she will impact and influence the media mountain.
I believe God provides divine appointments for us and when a beloved individual walks into our lives, we are responsible for seeing them bear fruit. Alive Ministries is here to help young people develop and release them into their full potential.
When creative people come together, I believe something transpires... We had such an amazing group of youth join us for our inaugural event since our official ministry launch - music composer, graphic designer, photographer, 3D animator and I wonder what other hidden talents they have. We are so fortunate to have Gen Chia and Wai Wai from Singapore come share with them over dinner. Gen Chia is a graphic designer for more than 20 years, doing various things from branding to product design to TV commercials to interior design and Wai Wai is an interior designer who grduated from university few years ago. Between them, they have so many stories to challenge and encourage the youth, an array of portfolio to inspire them and words of wisdom on how to succeed in the industry.
It was a tragedy when the khmer rouge destroyed all of the nations arts and culture in the 70's. Afterwhich, there were no books, no films, no original music and people dared not to be creative because these are deemed the ones dangrous and should be killed. Today, I believe we have a generation who is trying to take a sneek peek into this arena, filled with enthusiasm and passion, creative juices just overflowing and we're realaly here to guide and direct them to be leaders in their fields. Above and beyond, we want to inculcate values and morals into their works becuse this generation will impact and influence and transform the fabric of society like no other. What we sow into them, the nation will reap the benefits of. And we will sow justice and peace, love and kindness and honesty, respect and integrity into their creative minds. Wow! I can't wait to see the fruits.
I enjoy hanging out with a company of women, Especially Khmer women. We always have so much fun, talking and laughing and stuffing our faces with food. And boy, are they great cooks!! But at the same time, we're strong on the inside and when we stand up for something we believe in, we're passionate and we have the "get them" attitude. Women are fighters.
Sometimes, I feel where we come from, we're a little ethnocentric and think our way is the right way and in all ernestness, we're eager to share our lives, our strategies and teach "correct" methods of doing things. I think deep down all of us know what we want, our desires and goals and we will find our own unique way of achieving them. Sometimes, we don't need theories and plans with timelines or counseling sessions, we just need a hand to hold and a heart who believes in us to bring out our best.
SHINEWomen and SHINEGirls is a personal develoopment programme where we believe in the value of women and have them believe it themselves. We encourage them to dig deep into their emotions and believe in their goals and dreams. Then we equip them with skills and tools and we watch them soar like eagles. We have been doing this programme in the provinces in Cambodia with much success. This programme is adaptable to various local settings, such as church groups, school groups, NGOs, dormitories etc. We will also be training the trainers so locals can be role-models and share their testimonies. We have witnessed many lives changed, including someone who wanted to take her life to now having a successful small business, a lady who couldn't draw a picture of herself, to having confidence to believe that she can work and earn an income to support her family and make a difference in her family.
From wherever you are, you too can join the sisterhood and support and love our women in Cambodia. You can make a donation to support a women or girl through this 12-hour programme @ US$150 or you can donate for us to run a programme for a group of women at their facility @ US$1,000 (about 10 women).
I've always enjoyed communicating with and spending my time with young people because they have so much energy and they make me feel young. I believe across the world, regardless of race, language or religion, every person was born with a desire for greatness and purpose written on their hearts. We spend our teenage years discovering ourselves, imitating other people we admire, following trends, trying to be someone we're not and then, go back to accepting our uniqueness and strengths. We are one of a kind, there is nobody else like us.In Singapore, we are so privileged to have a global mindset, have opportunities to develop our skills and talents and be in an environment that challenges us, stimulates us and rewards for our hard work. I came to Cambodia nearly five years ago and I absolutely love the warmth of the people, their hospitality, their generousity despite having little, their traditional yet respectful culture and honour of parents and elders. So because I believe that we are all the same, just different geographically, it broke my heart to find out that the young people here just don't have opportunities and access to things that we take for granted. Poverty wrote their destiny. I set out to dig deeper into cultures, social norms, mindsets, hopes and dreams and I believe that out of the ashes of Khmer Rouge devastation, a generation of passionate, smart and compassionate leaders are groomed. We believe that through PERSONAL development programmes, we help each person walk out of the darkness of their souls and find intrinsic value. They discover their personal desires and strengths and we can help them set objectives. Through CAPABILITY development programmes, we help young people finish universities and transit into the workplace, becoming an asset to the corporate organization and impacting Cambodia's economy. Through SOCIAL development programmes, recreation clubs, we encourage positive role models, build social support systems and inter-personal skills and foster work-life balance, we nurture youth into holistic adults. They form the basic fabric of society and their future is bright.Support the young Cambodians through "scholarship" programmes - SHINE is a personal development curriculum for women and girls and Workplace Preparation course is a coaching programme to help youth be effective at work. If we are purposeful in reaching out to the young people and meeting their core needs, they will be purpose driven youth. I'm excited.
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