It’s hard to describe how my heart aches for the children that come to our centre as I learn more about the difficult cycle of poverty and social oppression they were born into. The majority of the families in our ministry are stateless waste pickers that spend everyday picking through garbage or buying trash (i.e. plastic, wires, metal) in order to take apart and resell to recycling facilities. On a bad day, they take a financial loss, and on a good day, the whole family might make about $10 profit. Our time in Cambodia has enabled us to see extreme poverty up close as we visit families in their homes. I’m constantly contrasting my current living situation and the opportunities our kids have compared to those of the families at our centre. We sleep on mattresses; they sleep on wooden planks. We have tiled floors; they have concrete or dirt floors. Our kids spend all day at school; their kids spend all day rummaging through garbage. We save money to take vacation trips; they do not take vacations…ever.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – I John 3:16-20
As we become more invested in the lives of the children and youth that come to our centre, we are exploring different strategies to help the families in need without causing unhealthy dependency. I have to fight against my “god-complex” wanting to rescue everyone using my earthly resources and knowledge. We did not come here to alleviate poverty, but we long for these families to experience God’s amazing love and to know that His grace is sufficient as we spend time with them, care for them, and share Biblical truths.
One way our team has been trying to care for the youth is by looking for vocational training opportunities. After a few months, praise God we found a local charity that provides a very good hospitality training program and they want to work with our impoverished demographic. Many of the youth at our ministry had stopped attending elementary school to work and help their families. In order to escape the same waste picking profession of their parents and grandparents, they need to either have a better education or learn a trade. We hope that these young people will have a better future that includes a relationship with Christ and job opportunities for a better livelihood.
We will be applying to send two eager youth from our ministry to this program which only accepts 30 students every year. One of the youth may not be able to enroll even if she is accepted because her family is financially dependent on the profit she brings home each month. It is very difficult for them to release her. I looked in the eyes of her loving father who asked me, “What parent doesn’t want their kids to go to school or have a better future? But tell me, how can I let her go when I need her to help the family? We cannot survive without her.” We are fervently praying that God will open doors for both youth to be accepted into the program and provide for the financial needs of their families.
- God helped us find a local vocational training program that the youth can apply to.
- Please pray that God will provide a way for these two youth to be accepted into the vocational training program and that He will provide a way for their families to have enough finances to survive while they are in training.
- Please pray that God will give our team compassion, wisdom and discernment as we work with the spiritually and materially poor.