|Wow! What a wild ride the last few weeks have been! I’d be lying if I claimed that a significant portion of my brainpower and energy over the first part of January hasn’t been consumed with trying to make sense of the events in Washington DC and with the Covid crisis. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused and not get weary with all the storms surrounding us!|
In the midst of all this, though, I’m genuinely excited about what God has in store for us as a CGI community in 2021. God stretched us in 2020 and I’m sure He’ll continue to stretch us in the coming year. I’m convinced that in the midst of all the chaos, doubts, and difficulties around us, God is purifying us and honing us to become the people he has designed us to be: faithful, strong, and full of His mercy and love for those around us and around the world. So today I want to share with you a brief summary of what we think 2021 will look like for CGI:
First, our main concern will be to continue strengthening our existing programs. For example, we’re starting classes in Battambang with a brand new cohort of culinary students. Our project to help victims of flooding in Cambodia get their homes and farms back on track will continue throughout the first half of 2021. And in Phnom Penh and stateside, BYTAVI continues to grow sales and keep women and their families employed, even while other clothing companies are going bankrupt during the Covid-related economic upheaval. God has blessed us and sheltered us during the difficulties of 2020, and we will continue to invest in our ongoing programs to keep them healthy and strong in the new year.
Second, we will be rolling out a number of new donor programs. We want to cultivate a deeper sense of community for our supporters here in the United States. In 2021, you can expect to receive more relevant information from us on a more regular basis. We want to help you discern and pursue God’s personal mission for your life. So we’ll be rolling out a number of initiatives and events for our donor community, and offering multiple ways for you to connect more meaningfully with CGI. As one example, we hope to offer Vision Trips to Cambodia (and potentially elsewhere) in late 2021, if God allows and Covid quiets down enough.
Lastly, we are continuing to look for new opportunities that God is opening for us to expand our ministry and build His Kingdom in Cambodia and beyond. We’re excited about the doors he began to open in 2020 and we look forward to building on those pilot programs in 2021, especially as the Covid crisis begins resolving.
Thank you for being on this journey with us! Thank you for your support and your prayers over the years. Thank you especially for your continued faithfulness in the difficult year 2020. I want to encourage you to trust Jesus more and more as 2021 unfolds.
He is good, He is faithful, and He is with you and me in the midst of it all!
Yours in Christ,
Todd M. Durell, MD
Center for Global Impact
1.) In February we welcomed Dr. Todd Durell as our new Executive Director. In addition to a good sense of humor, he is passionate about our work and has a lot of great ideas both for right now as well as for the future of CGI.
2.) We saw our amazing support community rally with us in March and April to raise over $18,000. As a result, we’ve been able to donate 7,483 face masks to partners around the world, and to continue the work of empowering others in Cambodia.
3.) Over the summer a new partnership in Cameroon was formed. Every Saturday from July through September, a virtual Biblical Leadership class was held with leaders from a local church that has led to exponential growth for those congregations and numerous baptisms of new believers.
4.) Staff and students at the Green Mango Cafe & Bakery and Culinary Training Center moved to a new location and after months of renovations officially opened the doors to the new facilities in October.
5.) Online sales for BYTAVI have hit all-time highs and Red Runway, a virtual event this year, made November the biggest month for online sales ever. In fact, this year’s virtual event resulted in the most sales ever during Red Runway.
6.) Again our support community rallied with us to raise money to help with flood relief efforts in Cambodia and just this month we received a grant from IDES for $25K for this work.
7.) Seven Imprint Project students graduated and are now equipped with the skills needed to succeed in this world. Better yet, each of them has been introduced to Jesus and His love.
8.) We are preparing to welcome new students to the Culinary Training Center and Imprint Project in 2021.
9.) In the Dominican Republic one of our partners began using CGI’s Life Skills curriculum to help equip and prepare their students for graduation.
10.) We had the opportunity to give back to some of our partner churches here in Indiana by giving them masks to help other ministries with whom they partner. They have been so generous to our ministry and it was a blessing to be able to help them help others.
11.) We welcomed Sinuon Chhorn as the new Phnom Penh Director of Operations.
12.) God has provided for, and continues to provide, for our ministry. He has blessed us through your prayers, your generosity, and your volunteer hours.
On behalf of Reaksmey, Sinuon, Director of Phnom Penh Operations, shares her story. Because she tells the story beautifully, we did not change many of Sinuon’s words and phrases.
From Kampong Cham province on Cambodia’s east side, close to Vietnam, Reaksmey turned 15-year-old for this year and studied at grade 8 when she was home. She has two siblings and her father died when she was really young age. Reaksmey was not able to receive love or care from her biological father like other kids. She had to look after younger siblings since she was really small kid.
Her mother had another man, her stepfather, that destroyed her life.
The girl, who under 15-years-old, has faced so much broken life journey. Her stepfather raped her and threatened to kill her if she told to others. She was so much scared and lives in the darkness life and keeps this abuse of her stepfather until she was pregnant.
The relatives and community security have known about this abuse by her stepfather and they have saved her life from this painful and dark situation. He was arrested and sent to the prison for these bad things.
Reaksmey was two months pregnant and decided to keep this baby until the day she gave birth.
She has been taken out from her province to live in Phnom Penh city by one organization that partners with Center for Global Impact. Because she was too young, she couldn’t give a birth to her baby like other women did so the doctors needed to have cesarean section for this girl. That was another bad and scared experience in her life.
She said, “I suffered a lot whenever I saw the wounds from the surgery of my delivery. It has kept me reminded of a painful situation and made me think about my past darkness of life.” The doctor told me the scar would stay with me for about two or three years. I still not being confident to see the wound until the day I had joined with Imprint Project.”
Reaksmey joined with Imprint Project after she has given birth to her baby in 2019 July.
During this time, she lost self-esteem, didn’t want to talk to anyone, wanted to be alone and we did not even see a smile from her. She wasn’t confident to stand in front of the mirror to look at herself and was so much scared of all the men.
The Imprint Project Team has tried the best to build a relationship and show her about our love, care. We are here to support and help her always.
The Imprint Project Team has been with her in individual meetings 3 to 4 per month. Somehow it was just sit down and listen to her broken things that she was passing through and sometimes she has just cried out and didn’t really say anything. She has just wished to have someone that she can trust and stay close to her.
We have been practicing this about half year when she had started healing little by little and has now accepted God to be her personal life Savior.
God has been healing this beautiful girl after she had accepted Him to be her Father. Reaksmey has started to show a beautiful smile to other people with more confidence. She has asked and prayed: “Teacher I wants my life to be brave and strong person once again, but I’m so much shy and so afraid to start it. I really don’t know what I should do?”
The Imprint staff has supported and helped her with some ways. She has tried to read the textbook that we call the Daily Bread and is more confident to speak it out and share during every morning devotion. Little by little the miracle has been working and changed her life day by day.
She has also worked really hard with the sewing training in the Imprint Project as she wants to be a real tailor.
There were many obstacles during the training such as forgetting the lessons as well many trouble issues of her life background that it wasn’t easy for her to forget it or move forward. However, she has never missed class or give up with her studies. She was the one that was patience and working hard for the studies. As a result she had become the top one in the class. She has often spent her free time to create her own designs and make the clothes for herself, for CGI staff and also for the customers that CGI’s partners with during the training.
After one-year training with the Imprint Project, her dream has become true.
She passed all the exams and successfully received a graduation certificate from Center for Global Impact. On the graduation day she had been shared to all the teachers, staff, participants and Center for Global Impact partner during this special day that without the Center for Global Impact support and help she couldn’t stand here. She would living in the darkness life, hopeless and won’t have a chance to learn the things that she likes. Without Center for Global Impact, she won’t have today.
Reaksmey graduated from Imprint Project program the end of July 2020.
Due to her age, most of the business tailor shops do not accept staff who are under 18 year. Center for Global Impact wants to support and keep blessing Reaksmey. CGI wants to help the vulnerable and victims of human trafficking by providing education, health care, food, support for the living, vocational skill and providing employment. Center for Global Impact decided to support her by providing a work that now she can make face masks to donate to countries during this pandemic. She is so happy that she is able to make the masks as she can bless them with this beautiful way by making the mask from her. She has enjoyed being with Center for Global Impact, the place she could call family and the place that has given her new hope in life and bright future.
Reaksmey has believed that in the future that she will be able to be a good tailor with her own small tailor shop in her hometown that could look after her kid and work with her mother. She has also wished that in the future she would use her sewing skill that she had learned from Imprint Project to help and teach another people with this knowledge or skills.
There are currently significant floods in both Battambang and Phnom Penh that are affecting CGI’s students and staff. Many across the country have been evacuated from their homes, roads and bridges have been washed away, and places of employment have been closed due to high waters and destruction.
Staff and students of CGI have also been affected. The photos shared are from one staff members home in Battambang. Flooding is also making it hard for staff and students to get to the CTC/Green Mango, and has been keeping customers away, although the new building is not itself suffering any flood-related damage – praise God!
I would like to ask you for two things as you digest this news:
- First, please pray for our friends and colleagues in Cambodia, especially for those who have experienced flooding and damage to their homes.
- Second, if you would like to help by making a donation, we have set up an Emergency Relief fund to make it possible for you to help ease the burden of flood cleanup and provide relief for those affected by the flood.
Thank you very much for your prayers and help during this difficult time!
Sokhom’s* Story, an Imprint student (2017-2018).
Sokhom was born in a family with four children – all girls. Sokhom is the third daughter in her family. Her dad is a moto-taxi driver and construction worker; her mother is a factory worker. When Sokhom was 13 years old, in order to earn money to support her family, she went to work at a karaoke club where men go to drink, sing and be entertained by the hostesses. It was there that she was rescued by one of CGI’s partner organizations. Once rescued, she was encouraged to learn a vocation. She had always dreamed to be a tailor like her mother, so she chose to learn sewing. She enrolled in the Imprint Project program for one year to learn how to sew and take general education and life skills classes. She was very excited to get the chance to learn sewing with Center for Global Impact (CGI).
She worked hard toward her goal of becoming a tailor. There were many obstacles during her year, such as forgetting lessons, missing some classes due to her family’s needs and not having transportation to come to class. However, she never gave up on her studies. She was one of the smartest students in the sewing class. Sokhom often used her free time to create her own designs and made clothes for herself and family. After one year, her dream became true! She was able to pass her exams in all classes. She received her graduation certificate, as well as a $400.00 graduation gift from CGI to help her achieve her goal of being a tailor. Sokhom was a proud girl on the day of her graduation ceremony. Her parents came to celebrate her success and her mother was very happy for her.
She collected all the money she had to build a small shop near her house. Sokhom now owns a small tailor shop in her hometown which is about 45 minutes away from the city. However, she was nervous after she left the program because she wasn’t sure she could succeed in her sewing without help from the teachers. She often called the teachers and asked some questions regarding the clothes she was making.
After Sokhom’s shop had been open for about three months, Seiha (former CGI Phnom Penh Operations Director) and Chenda (Imprint Project Team Leader) went to visit Sokhom’s shop to show her their support. She now creates her own designs based on pictures from the internet and makes party dresses for rent. Her customers come to her shop to rent the dresses which cost $10 to rent. Some customers have asked her to make skirts, as well as to alter wedding dresses. She said that she often makes around $10/day income. Sometimes she also sells dresses for $50 (they cost about $25 to make). Sokhom said “I was very happy that I could have my own tailor shop even though it’s not big. I will save the money that I make every day to grow my shop and make more dresses for rent and to sell”. Her mother states that “I never dreamed of seeing her have this skill. We were poor and she did not get to study much. I’m so thankful for CGI who always help the poor, especially my daughter to have this skill”.
*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the Imprint Project graduate. Sokhom is a Cambodian name that means “safe; happy”.
-Story originally submitted by Seiha, former CGI Phnom Penh Operation Director
It’s been 5 years since I left my wonderful job and stepped out of my comfort zone to serve the Lord by working at CGI. I was excited that I could be a part of changing lives as I have always been passionate about helping women who have been trafficked or treated unfairly. Every day I pray for God’s wisdom, love, and guidance to help me do this job as I know I can’t do it alone. But because of CGI, these women have been brought out of the darkness and into the light. Seeing their transformation is what gives me the strength to continue with this work.
A student recently wrote me, “I grew up in a broken family. My mom was sad and sick until she passed away. Since I was born, I never received love from my father. I hated him! When I first came to CGI, I did not think the teachers could love me because they are not my family. If my dad couldn’t love me, how could the teachers? But I have seen all the teachers truly love me and teach me from their heart. They never gave up on me, even though there were many times I couldn’t remember the lessons.
I can now read and write Khmer and sew beautiful clothes! Most importantly I learned about Jesus who loves me. I learned a verse in the Bible that says, ‘Love your parents’ and I began to pray and ask God to forgive me and help me forgive my dad. Someday I hope I can see my dad again and show him I love him because Jesus loves me first. I am thankful for the teachers at CGI who taught me a skill and about Jesus!”
I’m so grateful for all the supporters who give generously so we can share the love of God with these women. Each day I witness so many lives changing through the work we do here; and that only happens because of you.
Thank you from Cambodia,
Sopheak Lim is a quiet 19-year-old on the outside. But after a few minutes of listening to her speak, you sense the strong determination she has in her heart to serve God and create a brighter future.
After losing her father to tuberculosis when she was five, she also lost her mother and step-father to HIV four years later. She spent several years being shuffled between other family members in Thailand and Cambodia, and eventually wound up living with her uncle and aunt in Battambang, Cambodia in 2016.
Sopheak is a member of CGI’s current culinary class at the Green Mango Café and Bakery in Battambang. As part of the Culinary Training Center (CTC), Sopheak and seven other girls are learning to cook and bake, as well as how to run a restaurant. Sopheak’s favorite part of the program so far is learning to be a barista. She enjoys making coffee, espresso and especially smoothies. She really enjoys making (and drinking) avocado smoothies.
But more importantly than using the right ingredients in a smoothie, Sopheak and the students are learning about Jesus and His love.
Sopheak had a little knowledge of Jesus before joining the CTC program. But since joining more than a year ago, she has seen first-hand the power of His love. Lim’s younger sister, Vichaka, was part of the CTC program two years ago, and when Vichaka became ill, she needed hospital care. CGI helped take care of her medical needs.
“I really didn’t know much about God and how He works in the world,” explained Sopheak. “But I saw how CGI loved Vichaka and helped take care of her, and I realized this is how loving people live in the world.”
When Sopheak is asked about her favorite Bible story, she quickly points to Mark 2:1-5. With many people crowding around the house where Jesus was preaching, four men lowered a paralyzed man through the roof, so he could be healed by Jesus. Sopheak said she sees herself in the story as the man on the mat, but after he has been healed.
“I now know that I’m a daughter of God,” she explained. “I’ve been healed by Jesus, so I’m better than before.”
Sopheak and her fellow CTC students graduated May 24, 2019 and Sopheak dreams of one day partnering with her sister to open a western-style restaurant in Battambang.
“I want to thank CGI and everyone who has supported us and has helped teach us to cook, and about Jesus’ love,” Sopheak said. “Thanks for making this possible.”
And once she opens her restaurant, be sure to stop in for a smoothie. They will certainly be on the menu!
Help more young women, like Sopheak, have the opportunity to study at the Culinary Training Center.
Written By: Charlie McAtee
Charlie McAtee is a member of CGI’s Board of Directors. He is a professional communications and public relations expert and is the owner of Charlie McAtee Communications. He lives in New Palestine, Ind. with his wife (Dawn) of nearly 20 years, their two youngest children (Andrew and Audrey), and their dog (Dixie) and cat (Freedom).
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