CAMBODIA - Alive Ministries

That every individual be fully alive - actualizing their potential and living a vibrant and passionate life

$1,000 raised

It has been almost forty years since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime where Cambodia had to start from scratch to rebuild its human resource and infrastructure. Half the population are below twenty-five years of age.

In recent years, Phnom Penh and other cities have seen an influx of foreign investments, more job creation, increased salaries, and a rising middle class as more people migrate from the provinces to the cities.

HOPE is working with young people to address the needs of the labour market in terms of skills, critical thinking ability, knowledge and the current products on the market. 

Mission

Enable young people to discover their purpose
Equip young people with knowledge and skills
Encourage young people to live their dreams 

Strategy

We believe in building into the lives of young people who have been brought up with values passed down after the Khmer Rouge devastation and never dared to dream for themselves. 

Brick by brick, layer upon layer, we walk every individual towards wholeness and freedom to be themselves and live a productive life. Everything is a process and we’re committed to this journey. 

Through mentoring we build personal character and values.

Through coaching we build workplace effectiveness and competency.

 

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Project Updates

  • One of our goals, at HOPE, is to make education accessible to everyone, at every socio-economic level, every demographic and sphere of society. We want to cast the vision about importance of education and enable everyone who is willing an opportunity to continue the learning journey.

    This past weekend, together with Northwest International Centre in Poipet, Cambodia, we organzied our inaugural IETLS Introduction, Study Abroad and Career Pathway Seminar. It brought together education experts who facilitate the study abroad process, IELTS experts and different ones from across Asia to share their experiences and wisdom gained from venturing into an unknown country in pursuit of their passion. Speakers from India, Thailand, Philippines, France and Singapore shared invaluable experiences and challenges when studying in the UK, Australia, Singapore. It was such an engaging session because about 200 students and young working adults were on their toes listening and asking questions. Immediately after about 20 students registered for IELTS test.   

    Once touted a "cowboy town", where nobody, not even Cambodians want to live at, notorious for casinos, dirt roads, corruption and vices, Poipet has now become a bustling community, inhabited by restaurants and cafes, factories which generate income and provide employment, sports clubs for recreation and schools with good quality education for the general public. The young generation are hungry for knowledge and given opportunities to dream and chase their dreams.

    Coming alongside passionate Cambodian people is the icing on the cake. Mr Setha and Ms Thary is a dynamic couple who owns a private school in this northwest border city of Poipet and they have invested their time and money to build the Northwest International Centre. When completed at the end of this year, it will be a hub for workshops and seminars, a co-working space for collaboration and team work, avenues for businesses and a tourism center for arts and culture. We support the champions who advocate for their own people, as we affectionately say and they will be the movers and shakers of this city.

    We welcome international speakers, we want to host fun educational programs, businesses and any persons who wants to partner us in an internship capacity. Write to melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg. See you in Poipet.  

  • We were so excited when Morgan spoke to Ralph and wanted to spend some time in Cambodia. Armed with a TESOL certificate, we felt teaching was one of the best ways to interact and communicate with the community and education is something we strongly advocate. He spent one month in Poipet, the Thai-Cambodian border town at a private school, Minghua Northwest School teaching English to Primary school students. He helped developed materials and worksheets, played games and build relationships. He was such a blessing to the principal. 

    Morgan's testimony was that it was a great "time out" from his bustling city of Langley. The pockets of time and space were much needed for re-calibrating, finding self and seeking God in a foreign and different environment. Cross culture differences was challenging, the food, the language, the thinking but Morgan was a champ to adapt quickly and fully immerse himself and be a part of community. He also took the opportunity to travel to various provinces, understand history and appreciate temples and sights uniquely Cambodian. 

    Living with the YWAM base enabled him to experience Cambodian culture through community outreaches and people who come to the base to hang out yet they were also family to him and provided much support and encouragement. It was a good mix of the familiar and the new.  

    If you are interested in cross culture immersion and would like to use your skills and talents to help disadvantaged communities in Cambodia or other nations, email Melissa or speak to someone from Hope For The Nations. There is definitely something that you can contribute to fill gaps and make positive change. We facilitate your work or volunteering opportunity, accommodation and domestic transportation (if the city you're interested in does not have an international airport) and make sure you are placed in community so you have support and encouragement. All you need to do is jump in with an extraordinary passion and I believe your life will change even as you change the lives of those around you.  

    Melissa - melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg

  • Whilst we've entered an era where we realize institutionalized care is not as healthy for children growing up as we would have liked it to be, it served its purposes in providing shelter, food, education, emotional and social support for many Cambodian people. Among our youth leaders are Socheata, Sinam and Chomrong who grew up in Hope Village, Prey Veng, a children's home by Operation Hope Foundation (Singapore). They are currently studying in University in Phnom Penh, the capital city and working at various companies.

    Last December, they chose to go back to Hope Village to teach personal hygiene and healthcare to the children as well as to organize a Christmas program and give out presents. Seems like a regular missions program but the impact comes from the fact that they stand as role-models for the children and demonstrate leadership, gratitude and service to the home that took care of them and shaped their future.

    It's great when foreigners come and put up a program or teach a workshop but it's phenomenal to have local people who once were in their situation, graudate from school of life and come back to tell the next generation of children, "Your life can be as good as mine. Thank you Hope Village." They tell their story through their personal experiences, something you and I will never understand, never having lived through their moments and they express that graitude by going back to visit, support and encourage the staff and their "parents". It's their turn to say that they've all grown up now, how can they give back? How can they help and stand wth the organization to better the lives of the children? How can they use their skills and talents to work together with the organization to improve?

    Personally, I'm so touched by their gesture. We take for granted the teachers that taught us, the seniors who showed us life lessons, the friends who came alongside us through thick and thin and sometimes even our families who loved us unconditionally. A true test of a person's maturity and character is their ability to express gratitude by investing their time, energy and emotions to suppport and encourage the ones who sowed into them and to partner them to build the next generation. I believe that character and values are more caught than taught - it happens in everyday life, when the going gets tough, when disappointments and setbacks happen, in the coffeeshop and group outing moments. We're committed to building people of integrity, honesty and always thankful.

    Alive Ministries organizes workshops and trainings for young people in office skills, soft skills and vocational skills. We then give them opportunities to use these skills to lead outreach and community projects of their choice, helping their disadvantaged neighbours. Do email Melissa at melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg if you would like to partner us and impact Cambodia. Thank you for teaching, sharing, hanging out or giving financially.

     

     

  • I wonder how many people still believe that the highest calling is to serve in church, in a pastoral ministry and to be a pastor or minister. We determine the hierarchy of work and put different values on different careers. Surely the tax collectors, the money lenders and the people working in the casinos need spiritual counseling. Truth is, we're mostly called to the marketplace and God in His sovereign wisdom has created us so unique and special and gifted us with strengths, talents, interests and even weaknesses for us to be effective in societal transformation. Each of us contribute to the world in ways only we can. I love that thought.

    Mr Jimmy Pak, hails from Hong Kong and has more than 20 years of management experience in MNCs and started his own consulting firm in 2000 to develop employee care and corporate training for his clients, in line with the theology of work. He's a candidate of Doctor of Transformational Leadership under the supervision of Rev Paul Stevens at Bakke University. He's passionate about helping this generation of young people discover the image God bestowed on them and finding their careers, where they will flourish and contribute to society even as they find meaning in life and gain a deeper understanding of who God is and draw closer to Him.

    We did a workshop for young people, where they were given opportunities to do a simple assessment, share their discoveries and encourage each other. One participant said, "Now I know I'm not weird and I do certain things because of my learning style." Other participants nodded enthusiastically when they hear themselves being described. We provide tools to help them create optimun learning environments and open horizons to possible career paths.

    Work is already tough. Why not make it your your passion, in line with your personal goals and build communities of like-minded people to share, learn and continually grow? Once we understand God's intention for work, I believe our whole paradign will change and we go to work happy and return home fulfilled. Thank you Jimmy. Follow up workshop will be scheduled for next quarter. 
     

    If you have a strong interest in marketplace transformation and would like to invest in Cambodia, drop Melissa an email at melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg

  • Today I thought I would like to introduce my friends, Chomrong, Sinam and Diane (l to r). Just this pass week we were sharing about our lives and jobs and school, family and relationships and I'm so happy to know that each of them are doing well and in their best season yet. They are about to graduate university, found amazing employers willing to teach them skills and provide a good work environment and they have all risen to leadership positions where they take responsibility for their world and want to make a difference and help their communities, its no longer living for self but thinking about others.

    They've come a long way since their difficult childhood, struggling with poverty, broken families, absence of parental love, no dreams and no goals and questioning their values and self-worth. Growing up in a home offered physical protection and security but not necessarily life skills to overcome obstacles and emotional hurts, to know that their lives are precious and to make it count. Culture just cements every negative thought.

    Chomrong is a brilliant young man, who is kind and generous and this sometimes lands him in unfavourable positions. He worked in a company where he was cheated by a stranger and ended up having to compensate the company monetarily. Another employer paid him little for what he brought to the business, works long hours on shift and never gave him opportunities to learn and grow. There are days where he does virtually nothing. Through it all, he keeps quiet and takes it all in. After months of searching, he finally found a job where his employer appreciates his talent, gives him opportunity to learn new skills by moving laterally in the company and he works regular hours, allowing him recreation time and time to go to church. He is so happy with this job.

    Sinam used to do retail although she is a Banking and Finance student. She stands for long hours and experiences back pain. She gets half hour break everyday and is not allowed to sit even though there are no customers in the store. Her commission is little and she has to deal with nasty customers who are rude. Her supervisor scolds her in front of everyone, with no regard for her feelings. Two weeks ago, she started work as a Customer Service personnel in a micro-finance company. It's an office job and she's graretful for the opportunity to use computers and to learn more. She now has time to learn English, for recreation and can go to church because she gets 2 days off a week. She is thinking and planning to start her own business in her hometown where she will also provide free english lessons to the children.

    Diane is such a talented designer, enjoys drawing and is very thoughtful and aware of the needs of the people around her. She is always ready wth hugs to comfort people and jokes to make people happy. She does design jobs for individuals and companies during throughout her 4 year degree but many don't pay her fairly and even more ask for pro bono work. She used to live in a dormitory and it was difficult to concentate and be inspired because of the constant noise and disturbance. A couple of people have offered her a room in their house, with cheap rent but there were always strings attached and she ends up running errands for them, taking care of their children and even being the "middle-man" in negotiations. Two weeks ago, she started work as a designer in a non-governmental organization and her skills and gifts are recognized and she has the opportunity to art direct projects. Her employer loves her personality and leadership skills. She sees needs and gaps and is like an older sister to many people. She now has the financial capability to live on her own. She has grown to be independent at work, initiated and very responsible. 
     

    I look at their lives and try to find the common denominators - a never-give-up attitude and courage to forget their past and step into the destiny that God has for them. Sometimes, it's easier to blame everyone else for the situation we are in, but once we own our feelings and thoughts and know that God is good and His plan is to prosper us, we know that this current battle is nothing compared to the blessings. I'm overjoyed to witness their testimonies!

  • This week, i went with a group of friends to a village school close to Phnom Penh, to give out school suppplies. We gave out backpacks filled with goodies such as water bottles, writing materials, crayons and even shoes and uniforms to the students identified by teachers as coming from families with financial difficulty. My friend singlehandedly created awareness of the cause, garnered donations in cash and kind from friends, ex-classmates from other provinces, corporate companies and business people, packed and bought all supplies, rounded up volunteers and organized the 1/2 day trip including meals and transportation, then she shared her testimony with the students, chatted and build relationships with them and we all ate bread and milk. She also got media support, newspapers and magazines, who will print the photos of our community action because she wants to encourage and engage more young Cambodians to do likewise. O, and she documented all the photos and made it accessible to everyone on Dropbox. 

    This sounds like something short term mission teams would do. Except that this was driven by one lady. One volunteer. And she's Cambodian.

    This made me re-think about how foreign teams are interacting with the locals in the country we have a heart and passion for. Previously, we always went in wth such enthusiasm, took charge and planned everything, as though the locals had to stay on the side of the fence and be labeled as beneficiaries. We incessantly speak about "train the trainers", "job creation", "income generation", "sustainability", but what does that look like in reality? Unfortunately, it's not a 3-step or 7-step program or a 16-24 hour workshop, nor will these things happen in a classroom, through a internationally accredited Business Management curriculum, taught by a professor. We pour out finances on fancy buildings, training centers, help someone build a run-down house, gift bicycles and phones, laptops to students, yet, the cross culture differences, the lack of understanding of how locals think and feel and are motivated and just the empathy that they live in a harsh and difficult world where theories don't become applicable at the snap of our fingers, makes the things we do ineffective and practically useless.

    The classroom is their world. The training or rather mentoring never stops, it happens mostly over a bowl of nom banh chok in a hot and dusty roadside stall. But I think what's significant is that they just follow whatever we do. We are their role-models, they see, they hear, they feel, they emulate. 

    I found myself surrounded by great great friends, whom i truly believe in, whom I want to help find their purposes in life and allow them to dream and step into their destiny. I accept them for who they are, I attend weddings with them, I cry with them in hospitals, I get angry and discipline them when they make poor decisions and other times, we just stand on the riverside and admire the sunset. And the transformation happens slowly but surely on the inside.

    It's a radical concept for sure and a huge change in paradigm for people who want to get involved in developing nations and want to help. If you are a convert and would like to support my ministry in Cambodia by equipping and empowering young people over coffee and doing life together AND if you want to support these young people to champion the cause and organize outreach projects to help their own people, please contact me at melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg. We welcome your time, your presence, your heart for this generation and finances. Happy to chat always.  

     

  • 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!   

     

  • 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.   

  • 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 melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg for more information.   

  • 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, melissa_shine@yahoo.com.sg. Love to hear from you.  

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