We have both just come back from Cambodia where we helped to conduct a Moral Values workshop in Siem Reap. This workshop, which has been in the planning stages for months, far exceeded our wildest expectations. With a forest in the Apsara Gardens of Angkor Wat as our classroom, the ground for our chairs and desk, and with no amenities nearby, the 36 participants – 24 doctors and 12 senior managers – were confronted with the moral truths of the Bible. This was the second week of training with the leadership of this huge health care organization that has a presence in virtually every village in Cambodia in one form or another. Much preparation, prayer and planning had gone into this week.
A number of times throughout the week the participants confronted the fact that these truths were unlike anything they had encountered before. This moral barrier can best be seen through the language barrier. The understanding of English amongst the participants varied so greatly that we needed to work through a translator to try to ensure the concepts were understood. We found it interesting that the translators never translated the key words but relied on the English word instead. It was explained to us that if they tried to use Khmer for words like love, compassion, caring, kindness and respect it would lose all meaning because there is only one word in Khmer, a very general term that doesn’t begin to describe these various parts of the moral landscape. One of the women said, “We have heard about these things but we have no words to describe them, even to ourselves.”
We were able to establish an agreement for a pilot project in Pourk, a village near Siem Reap were RHAC already has strong volunteers and a youth program. The governor of the district is very open and committed to community transformation and TWR’s children’s, youth and women’s teams are already functioning. TWR Cambodia have also developed a topic list for their broadcasts of the children, youth and women’s programs for the remainder of 2011 which will ensure that these topics are broadcast on the air.
Next week our whole team will be attending a CHE Regional Working Group Meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand along with many others who are doing CHE in SE Asia. It was at this annual meeting just a year ago that I was first able to present the project we have been working on. We stand amazed at what God has done in just one year. This year we need to mobilize some other trainers to assist with this huge project. We hope to begin in May with the training of TWR staff and a group of master trainers from RHAC. One of the principles of CHE is that unless the village owns the project it will not be effective or sustainable so it must begin with the training of these leaders.
This is an unprecedented opportunity to reach into 19 of the 24 provinces of Cambodia through existing, mandated and funded structures through over 20,00 committed people who already have a role in villages, youth organizations, schools and amongst vulnerable groups. It is a model that can also be used in most countries in the region, even where it is necessary to use a creative approach, such as we have employed over the last year in Cambodia.