Gardening for a Great Cause!

Alicia Cecil at University Park

Alicia Cecil at University Park

Kids and dirt! They seem to go together, don’t they? Alicia Cecil’s idea to give children a reason to play in the dirt will benefit CGI’s Culinary Training Center in Cambodia.

During the CGIKids’ event at University Park, Saturday, May 11, Alicia invited Green Mango Café & Bakery cookbook authors Sonja and Alex Overhiser to speak to families gathered in Greenwood. The Overhisers explained how CGI’s Resident Chef Ryana DeArmond teaches food preparation skills that help students find work. Many former students are currently employed at CGI’s Green Mango Café & Bakery.DSC_0005

Alicia challenged the children to grow produce that could be sold to help fund CGI’s culinary program. Families were given buckets with tomato plants. Ten and a half weeks later, Wednesday, July 24, the kids were able to sell tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, and rhubarb at the Greenwood Farmers’ Market.

While playing in the dirt is fun, growing food is even better. Gardening for a Great Cause!

by Joyce Long

Overwhelmed by God’s Work


Whitney Vance with byTavi seamstresses

I will never forget the first time I stepped foot into the byTavi workshop. I followed Chris (CGI’s President) and Nathan (CGI’s Chief Operating Officer) up the narrow stairs to the second floor where the women work. When I rounded the corner and stepped through the threshold, I was immediately speechless and choked up.

For the first time I understood – and it clicked for me. I had been working with CGI for eight months, telling the story of these precious women and marketing their high-quality items, but I didn’t quite get it until I saw them with, what looked like to me, scraps of fabric, being created into works of art. That was in January 2012.

I just returned from my third visit to Cambodia, and this visit to the workshop was no less impactful. The program continues to grow, and the women’s lives are continuing to change. I met our three newest members of the byTavi family during their first day of work. It was a pleasure to see the “veteran” seamstresses training the new ones.DSCN9894

I talked with Tavi and was pleased to hear that her prayer request was for her teenage son, who had an exam later that week. The mere fact that he is in school is a testament to her and her family’s growth over the years. Another woman, who had just joined the team a month ago, asked for prayer about a breathing condition, so we laid hands on her and prayed for her healing. One of the management staff shared that her parents have recently come to know Christ.

byTavi is so much more than a great product. byTavi means lives changed – not only the lives of the women making purses, but their family members. It’s amazing the impact God can make with a simple sewing machine.

by Whitney Vance (CGI’s Marketing & Relationship Coordinator)


The Luxury of Making Choices

Photo by Aimee Davis

Photo by Aimee Davis

I caught malaria once. It came during a season when I was a missionary serving overseas among the poor. To this day, I’m not sure how or when I contracted the disease. I simply remember the pain and fatigue which overwhelmed me for weeks until I did one crucial thing.

I bought medicine—a tiny pack of four pills costing the equivalent of eight dollars.

This action seems logical, and indeed, it was. What complicated it was my awareness that the majority of those I was ministering to would have died long before being able to afford the life-saving treatment.

Yet my understanding of this, as well as hundreds of conversations with the poor, made poverty no less easy to define. Initially it was a lack of money, space, and resources, and certainly the poor experience the deprivation of such. However, poverty encompasses much more than physical shortages. Rather, to be poor is to dwell in an existence without options and in circumstances without escape.

Quite frankly, the poor do not have the luxury of making choices.

Photo by Aimee Davis

Photo by Aimee Davis

As a believer, I can’t help but consider the greater significance in having the ability to choose. The Bible’s first book gives witness to Adam and Eve roaming the confines of Eden with opportunities at their fingertips. To name this, to go there, to eat that; this remarkable human propensity to make decisions existing before the fall of humankind signifies divine approval. Perhaps free will is a significant and foundational component of not only what it means to be human, but also what it means to be in perfect communion with God.

So what does this mean for us, and more importantly, for Cambodia? It means ushering individuals and families into communion with God again through restoring choices to the poor. And this restoration is what CGI is passionately pursuing.

Photo by Sonja Overhiser

Photo by Sonja Overhiser

For the most vulnerable women and girls of Cambodia,it means. . .

– she can choose to send her brother to school tomorrow because of the meal she cooked at the Green Mango Café tonight.
– she can choose to accept a higher paying position because of the fluent English she learned as a cgiDaughter.
– she can choose to buy the medicine that will save her mother’s life because of the purse she sewed for byTavi.

She can choose.

Think about those words. Then join CGI in the fight for the poor and for their freedom to choose.

by Bethany Rivera

byTavi at Village Experience

DSC03557 Well, if you are as old as I am you’ll know the Village People’s one hit song was YMCA, but you might not know Village Experience (6055 N. College Ave. 46220) has a more contemporary message.

Nicole Krajewski & Martha Brammer

Nicole Krajewski & Martha Brammer

Founded in 2008 by sisters, Anne and Kelly Campbell, Village Experience sells fair trade products handmade by impoverished women in Thailand, India, and Kenya. Their heart to help the poor make a living by providing an American market correlates well with CGI’s mission

Thursday, June 27, from 5-7pm, byTavi’s new Imprint Collection, along with Green Mango treats from CGI’s cookbook, were featured in the fair trade boutique’s Give Back Evening. Several CGI supporters attended and enjoyed browsing through the byTavi products.

Yet what made the evening more significant is the partnership of two like-minded organizations collaborating to help at-risk women throughout the world. I’m thinking Jesus likes that cooperative spirit in His followers.DSC03553

Let’s pray for more opportunities to work together with those nearby and those throughout the nation and world.

by Joyce Long