Changing the Future


The Culinary Training Center (CTC) in Cambodia creates an opportunity for a very specific and strategic way to push back against poverty and trafficking. When vulnerable girls become equipped with marketable, lifelong skills like the ones taught at the Green Mango Cafe in Cambodia, life changes. The future changes.

CGI is fortunate to have Chef Ryana DeArmond in Cambodia to train students in the skill and art of cooking. And it doesn’t stop at cooking. Students learn about finances, customer service, shopping efficiently, and managing time and resources. These are skills they can take with them into the workforce for years to come, earning a living for themselves and their families without resorting to desperate measures.

And, as Chef Ryana notes in a recent update, the curriculum is working! The girls are learning quickly and the Green Mango Cafe is growing as a result.

“The second class of girls have advanced faster then we expected. On June 3, they began their internship in the restaurant, which enabled us to open for dinner! Over the next 9 months, the students will rotate through 6 stations (Server, Cashier, Drinks, Head Cook, Sous Chef, and Baker). They rotate through the stations to gain a well-rounded education and become more desirable employees for other restaurants in the future.”

We’re thankful for the way God is using the Culinary Training Program to change the futures of these women!

By Caroline Mosey/Ryana DeArmond

Ly Phalla & byTavi

Ly PhallaEarlier this month, Center for Global Impact’s President, Chris Alexander, was visiting the Green Mango Café & Bakery when the manager of the restaurant, Ly Phalla, received a phone call that her home had burned to the ground and had destroyed two other homes.

Ly Phalla, who was the house mom at the CGI Daughters home and now works at the Green Mango, is a very special woman to CGI. She is deeply entwined and important to many women and girls in our programs. Many hearts went out to her as we mourned for her loss and feared for how she would ever repay her neighbors. (Cambodian law states the cause of the fire must pay for the other victims.)Ly Phalla fire 1

A generous donor began a matching fund to raise support for Ly Phalla. Several churches gave above their normal donations. But what happened next was something that nobody expected but brought tears to our eyes. The byTavi women, the same women who are working their way out of extreme poverty, gave a collection of $46 dollars. Just as the New Testament widow gave her last two coins to the church (Mark 12:41-44), these women gave out of their hearts, all they could, to help another in need. God is truly working in the hearts of our Cambodian friends.

by Kristen Baynai

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

CGI’s Culinary Training Center’s Student Cook-Off

ImageAnd the winner is (drum roll, please!) Ong Em! Her smile was worth the 60-minute wait. Under the direction of Sonja Overhiser (, CGI’s current class of culinary students created a western dish in just one hour during Sonja’s March visit.

CGI’s Culinary Training Center, adjacent to Green Mango Cafe & Bakery in Battambang, Cambodia, sizzled with a whirlwind of knives and flame as the girls chopped and sautéed. Sonja, CGI Founder and President Chris Alexander and Resident Chef Ryana DeArmond judged the seven original entrees. In the end, fish and chips seasoned with corn and cilantro captured the grand prize.

The next day involved a shopping trip to the market where Em selected hot pink, platform shoes as her reward. Em’s flare for taste carried over into a stylish accessory. Fun and food—a great combination!

Watch the video for a quick snapshot of the CTC’s Student Cook-Off.Then order a cookbook, or perhaps a baker’s dozen, for yourself, friends, and family (


Meet Sokhoeun!

ImageSokhoeun, the Culinary Training Center’s newest staff member, isn’t there because of  food. Instead she focuses on the students—their lives, their families, and their well-being. She enjoys her new position as CGI’s social worker in Battambang, Cambodia.

“I want to help poor families, especially the children. I want to see them have a good future and occupation. Also I like to work with the government.”

Sokhoeun with CGI President Chris Alexander visiting a poor family in Battambang.

Sokhoeun with CGI President Chris Alexander visiting a poor family in Battambang.

A graduate of the University of Battambang, she previously worked four years for Homeland and the last year and half at KNK Orphanage.  Sokhoeun has two brothers and three sisters. Currently she lives with and takes care of her 62-year-old father, who was widowed when her mother died in 2007 from a motorcycle accident caused by slick roads.

Spending time with the girls and their families, identifying needs, and keeping good records keep her busy. Cultivating community contacts also plays a significant role in her work.

In Sokhoeun’s spare time, she likes to stay home and spend time with her friends. She also enjoys spoiling her 4-year-old nephew and 8-month-old niece although they live in a distant province.

When sampling selections from Green Mango Cafe’s extensive menu, Sokhoeun usually favors the Asian salad. At the Culinary Training Center, she joins a staff that includes Ryana DeArmond, resident culinary training chef, LyPhalla, assistant program administrator, and Nary, server-in-training.

Story of Hope: Chanary

channary-1When I met Chanary two years ago, she would hardly look me in the eye. Her face wore her pain. Her past had its scars, many of which we cannot understand here in Central Indiana.  We welcomed her into the Daughters House, where she was taught the Bible, English, and sewing skills.

We watched her mature over the past two years. Now Chanary is much more confident and hopeful. Her English has immensely improved. When the Green Mango Café and Bakery needed a front hostess and manager, it made sense to offer the position to Chanary, even if it meant a move. She was the oldest girl in cgiDaughters so I knew it was time for her to have more independence.

Now Chanary smiles, she laughs, and she enjoys many new friendships. It brings me great joy to see how God has worked in her life and how she is doing her new job well. Indeed, this is the hope you and I through CGI can give those whose lives have been marred by extreme poverty and at-risk environments.

By Nicole Krajewski



A Hand Up, Not a Handout


Opinions:  It is said everyone has one, and everyone is entitled to one. Yet here in Cambodia I have found people do not have opinions, or at least they do not share them. When I ask, “What do you think?”, I get blank looks. This has been a struggle for me, because I like others’ to have input. It’s how I get to know them. It’s how I see if they understand. After many hours a thinking and trying to figure this out, my conclusion is the Cambodian people are either the boss or the servant.

The boss has the power–the complete say in everything. The servant has no voice. They follow everything the boss says; without question, without reason, they just follow. This does not only affect their jobs, it spills over into the house, and even into ministry.

A few examples: A mother tells the daughter it is time to be married. The daughter gets married. Even if she doesn’t love the man, even if she is not ready to get married, simply because the mother says. A hotel owner gives tasks to the worker, seven days a week for 10-12 hours each day. The workers don’t question the amount of work. They just do the tasks. A bar manager tells the server to keep the customers happy. Even if that means her being touched in wrong ways, even if she is asked to leave with them.

This type of leadership has made it much harder to teach the girls how to be independent or how to think on their own. I have been trying for months for the older girls to take ownership of the cafe. Once I realized the boss/servant dynamic here, I knew I would have to give it to them, they would never take it. Finally during the past week I saw some light in two situations. The first one began with them creating specials without my direction. They made pineapple cookies, peanut butter+chocolate cookies, and chicken tortilla soup–all without my suggestions or recipes. Then the second one involved each month’s job rotation. So instead of my placing them, I wrote each job on the board, I handed them the marker and said you all talk and decide who works where. I gave them 15 minutes. When I returned, they had started to work and think things through. It took them almost a half hour, yet they finished without my help. Their set-up and reasoning was not what I would have done. They are learning and will do things differently next month.

Empowering people isn’t about giving them everything. It’s about providing them the ability to make their own choices and think on their own. It would be much easier to come in, fix their house, buy them rice, pay for schooling, and give clothes. Yes, all of these things are good, just like putting ice on an injury. But these are temporary. Skills like teaching them how to think, how to problem solve, and how to reason will continue throughout their lives. It’s about a hand up instead of a handout.

By Ryana DeArmond, Feb 2013

Cook with Love!

Valentines Day is around the corner, and it’s easy to get caught up in the expectations that sometimes surround the holiday. With flowers to buy and cards to sign and dinner reservations to make, the true meaning of love can get lost in the shuffle of our culture’s commercialism. The Bible defines love differently:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Sometimes love doesn’t announce itself at the front door; it slips in quietly through the back, revealing itself through acts of service to others. This Valentine’s Day, why not prepare a home-cooked meal for the one you love? CGI can even help you find the perfect recipe! There are dozens of amazing dishes in the pages of The Green Mango Café Cookbook, compiled from many of the recipes used at CGI’s Culinary Training Center in Battambang, Cambodia.

Why not treat your spouse or family to homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, pan-fried fish with ginger and miso for dinner, or lemongrass-coconut bars for a sweet dessert? All these recipes (and a whole lot more!) can be found in the cookbook.

And the best part of all? All proceeds from cookbook sales go straight to funding CGI’s programs for at-risk women in Cambodia, so the love can be felt all the way on the other side of the world!

You can purchase a hard copy or digital version here: