Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Build-a School project #2

A number of other things shaped the concept. One was the question of teachers. While we can plant the brick and mortar shell of the school. How were the students going to be taught? Fortunately the Cambodia Department of Education had a plan in place. If we built the school, they said, they would supply the teachers. Problem solved. Though it must be clear that these were not teachers that we think about in Singapore. These were more like teaching assistants...likely just the most educated young man or young lady within the district who could be paid to do the 'teaching'. Still that was so much better than nothing. One has to bear in mind the inaccessibility of these villagers. And it was difficult to persuade good teachers to make those difficult and treacherous commutes just to teach a bunch of half naked kids in a poor village.

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.
All these were made possible because there was already a very mature and committed mission established in Baray through Esther Ding (CMS).

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.

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