Secondly while the villagers need to take ownership of the school, there needs to be some mentoring of this process to ensure that the developments are healthy and reasonably productive. To my mind the most appropriate people to do this for the villagers were the local pastors, who already had good contacts with the outside world, reasonably exposed, aware and educated.
Thus, quickly a number of very clear expectations began to crystallize:
- there must be evidence of commitment and willing ownership by the village
- teachers were the responsibility of the local government, and must be available
- there must be a local pastor who was prepared to enter the village and work with the community
- there must clear understanding that there is an ultimate mission to nurture the spiritual health of the community, that the school is not just a means for education, but must serve the vital mission to spread the knowledge of God's love, and eventually establish the church withing the community.
One last thing I need to emphasize. It was probably the most important consideration for the project to work. It was very clear to me that because this project was going to involve gifts and giving, people and processes must be fully accountable to both God and man. The challenge was really how to establish this. I was fortunate because we have worked with Esther for 9 years, I can vouch for her commitment and conviction. She is a single Malaysian lady who has been in Cambodia as part of the CMS mission. She had entered Baray 15 years ago at great risks to her own safety and has remained to serve the people in Baray, bringing health missions, flood relief and even setting up handicraft livelihood projects (originally SongKhem, then later KhmerLife). She's trained a band of very responsible committed local pastors who have been very active in ministering to the community. I could more than trust her and her pastors to oversee the project locally.
And me? Well,you will have to judge for yourself...:). For this reason I have put my contacts on the blog. This wasn't done for self-glorification, but for you to know there is a real person behind this project. Someone you can contact for clarification, and more importantly to hold accountable should there be problems.
Monies received are managed and disbursed to CMS through my church account which is fully auditable annually.