A Friday in Cambodia

Yes, I had an idea of what Cambodia would be like–sunny, hot, crowded, and brimming with poverty. But no, I didn’t expect so many smiles and Buddhist monks clothed in shiny orange togas carrying umbrellas, exchanging blessing for money. I had no idea CGI in-country staff like Vibol, Sopheony, Sreyleak, Nary, and LyPhalla, would soon become good friends. Nor would I have guessed a simple Friday at the zoo would imprint my heart forever.From the time we picked the CGI Daughters up to when we arrived at Cambodia’s only zoo, we had shared sliced green mango heavily salted, sprinkled with chili sauce, and many favorite karaoke songs. The Titanic’s theme, “My Heart Will Go On,” created a chorus of both harmony and giggles.After a picnic of roasted chicken and yes,even fried frog legs, we watched monkey acrobatics. Then the otters and black bears swam circles in greeting. Pythons lounged, keeping cool in the water. CGI President Chris Alexander even treated an elephant to a coconut.

Our mini-safari ended mid-afternoon. But not without one last instruction.
Donna Alexander gave each girl Khmer currency worth two dollars. Chris told them to give it away to the weathered elderly who begged along the dirt road leading into the zoo. But they were not just to give. They were to encourage and bless.

And one by one they did. Smiles and tears mingled. Gratefully, heads bowed. We soon left. But a part of me will always linger there.

By Joyce Long

Midwest Food Bank event


Inspiration comes in all ages and sizes. 43 kids gave up their Saturday morning to come to the Midwest Food Bank and sort out different toiletry items and giant bags of candy for the hungry and needy families of Indianapolis. However, they did not just come, they came willingly and with excited faces. The entire warehouse at the food bank echoed with the laughter of small children rushing to see who could fill their bags the fastest – so they could fill another bag! Happy voices mingled in with the laughter as the older kids helped the younger kids, as parents stood back and watched their children taking the first steps to changing the future.

When food bank director John Whitaker announced to the room full of excited kids that some families in Indianapolis can not afford to buy little treats for their children, such as candy, disappointment crept onto their faces. He went on to say that a local candy company had donated a lot of candy to the warehouse and that they would be dividing it up and putting it in bags. Their eyes were shining at the mention of candy, but there was joy when John reminded them it wasn’t for them to eat, but to give away. Their excitement was contagious as the parents also started to show signs of eagerness.

The group was divided randomly and half of the kids sorted and stuffed bags of candy, while the other half sorted and stuffed special bags filled with shampoos and soaps. Each child was determined to make sure that these bags were filled exactly like they were supposed to; they were also determined to make as many bags as they could in the time that they had.

So inspiring. Children of all ages coming together to help the poor of Indianapolis. So willing, so nonjudgemental. There is a lot to be learned from the faith of a child, and the unquenchable thirst to know why other kids in the world don’t have everything that they do, and their humble innocence in wanting to help. While we strive to fill our children with good morals and values, our children are instilling us the reminder that we can give unselfishly–even when it’s candy.

By Aimee Davis

-No matter the age, or the shape or the size
helping can be done if we open our eyes

If we follow the steps that our children are taking

We will see tall the changes in lives they are making

So maybe for a while instead of leading,

We should follow our children to see what they’re seeing-

Happy Hands – Happy Handbags

DSC_0081 (1)We are constantly overwhelmed by the opportunities that God provides for byTavi in the United States. It seems that every time we turn around, God has opened a door for a major event, or saved us a prime spot at a conference, or gives us the opportunity for a great marketing tool for FREE! This last example is exactly what happened a few weeks ago…

Have you heard of Vine? Vine is a mobile app that allows its users to create and post six second videos that can be shared on social networking services, such as Twitter and Facebook. Several weeks ago, Brandin6 approached us about running a Vine contest. Whoever came up with the best Vine video about byTavi, would win a cash prize.

Well, what does this mean for byTavi? It means that we were featured on the main page of Vine and Brandin6, people who never knew we existed, were now creating videos about us, and the word spread like wildfire. We are so grateful for this opportunity that we thought we’d share it with you. We are so thankful for @hunrharrison who created the winning video.

Check out “Happy Hands make Happy Handbags” here:

You can also check out ALL of the byTavi videos here: http://www.brandin6.com/bytavi.html

by Kristen Baynai

Recycling Our Hearts

by Alan Beringer

by Alan Beringer

When I arrived I noticed the recycling cart parked in front of the CGI office.  This is a pretty common sight in Cambodia, especially in the city.  Very little goes to waste in the developing world.  Mom was not far away, but it struck me that she left her little one in the cart while she searched through bins and asked neighboring store owners if they had anything that she might be able to sell. When she returned we asked her what amount she would make from the recycler.  She said $5 a day, but based on what we saw in the cart and know of the industry, that seemed very optimistic.

Our hearts break in increments, but they heal quickly. Then we forget. We become distracted and self-absorbed. Then we move on.  Could I challenge you to remember the poor today? Perhaps even do something for the poor today? On the drive from the airport, we were stopped in traffic at a light.  A little kid – maybe 8 or 9 – took a feather duster and started “cleaning” our car.  This happens a lot here.  The boy needed money but knew that doing something was better than just begging.  His hopeful eyes gazing through the still dusty glass finally broke Alan Beringer down, who rewarded his effort with a small gift.  Let your guard down today and let your heart break just a little.  Consider for a moment what your life and what your future would be like if this picture was taken of you.

Until ALL have heard,