Start of a new year, may it be a happy and blessed one for everyone. We are coming up to Chinese New Year (one of the three celebrated in Cambodia). For our first of the New Year celebrations, Mark and I and blew some of our pension and went for a few days with a good friend to an island off Cambodia called Koh Rong Samloem. It is so beautiful and worth the 6-hour drive and 1 hour ferry trip to get to. We heard on the evening before our return to Phnom Penh, the wonderful news that we could open day-care again!
Pre-opening frustrations – Friday before opening, the staff were cleaning and setting up. Outside a 4ft deep trench was being dug to lay pipes to a new housing complex near the village, the people doing the digging (manually) cut the water pipe by mistake and wrapped it up in tape! We then discovered that no one could leave due to the trench, so we asked for something to be put down to help, we got a plank! On Saturday Mark and Liz went to do some last-minute things and there was a blue water pipe (which was our water pipe) lying on top of the soil that had filled in the trench and we had no water into the building. After a heated conversation from Liz in broken Khmer, the foreman eventually agreed to come and dig up part of the trench again to put the pipe into it. Problem solved (for now).
Monday 17th we opened our doors to welcome the children back into day-care and into the new building. Both the children and the staff had the biggest smiles and were so happy to be back and in new surroundings. After day two, one little girl said, “there are so many stairs, I am tired”. We had to teach most of the children how to walk up and down stairs as their homes do not have any – it was a challenge, but they have got the hang of them now.
Prior to opening we carried out Covid Tests on all the staff, this wasn’t well received but it was necessary. The staff watched all the tests very very closely in fear of seeing a second line, Liz told them not to worry if there were two lines, it was either Covid or they were pregnant.
Liz and Sokheng have been doing a bit of DIY which was going great until we discovered one leg on the table, they put together was higher than the rest! (Liz claimed the tiles weren’t level and the table was fine !!!)
Another new thing for the a few of the staff was the washing machine as villagers usually handwash everything. Having shown them all how to use it, Sokha went to do the washing. She came to see Liz. She had gone to check if the wash had finished and remaining time showing was 10 minutes, after 12 minutes she checked it again and the remaining time was 9 minutes!! Liz had no explanation for that.
We are also down one staff member at the moment due to a motorbike accident. Somnang had his foot down on the ground while on his motorbike and a motorbike with a trailer ran over his foot. His leg is in plaster and will be out of action until the end of the month. Please pray for fast healing for him.
I cannot tell you what a joy it is to sit in the office in this beautiful building which God gave us and listen to the children enjoying the new space. There is nothing that fills my heart more, than listening to the chatter, singing, playing together and seeing them learn. We are already getting enquiries from people within the village about the possibility of placing their child, so we are now starting the process of onboarding more children and taking on additional staff. We would value your prayers that we select the children most in need of a place and that staff can be recruited from within the village.
In our newsletters we like to introduce our staff to you and give them a chance to tell you a little about themselves.
This month it is Sokha’s turn
“My name is Sokha. I am currently working at Eggshell Cambodia for 3 years as a Senior Day-care Worker.
I have two children, one girl now 12 years old and a boy 5 years old. My husband died when my boy was 3 months.
I was married and it was my husband who was supporting family, but he died – I don’t know what to do I can’t ride moto or bicycle to work, I have no education, I have nothing, so I became very sad and depressed because I did not know how to raise my two children without my husband.
I pray to God even though I don’t know there is a real God or not, but I prayed and God has answered my prayer by sending Mark and Liz into my village.
First, I asked Liz to have my son in day-care so I can go to work in Government factory, I would have to leave the house very early to walk to work and return home late in the evening. One week after I have my son in day-care, Liz gave me an opportunity to work with children. I am so happy and grateful to have a job working with children and close my house I can walk to work. They both like my angels and my second parents. Eggshell Cambodia is a place that give me a new hope and new life. Without it I would not be able to get a good job and be able to support my two children.
Now my daughter is in grade 7th and next year my son will finish the programme with day-care, and he will move to public school I am excited for him he is growing up as a good boy. I would like to say thank you so much again for Liz and Mark to give me a chance to work here. I am very happy and thankful for this job. I love my job and I am continuing to improve my work.
I also would like to say thank you for NekKru (Teacher) Sokheng for teaching me English. I start from nothing now I am confident to teach children in English. May God bless you. Lastly, I would like to say thank you to the day-care team, always working as a team and encouraging each other.”
As I have said before, your support reaches much further than just the children we have the privilege to spend time with, it impacts the lives of people like Sokha and her wider family too.
We are starting up a Women’s Bible Study in the village at the end of this month. Sokheng will be helping women to understand about Jesus, her faith in him, and why he is the one true and living God. Please pray for her as she begins to share with the women and for them to come to accept Jesus through this group.
To end this month, the children were talking among themselves over lunch. They have given Sokha permission to remarry if she finds a husband, but Sokheng – No! She needs to look after all of them so no husband for her. Poor Sokheng she is destined to remain a spinster if the children have their way.
Also, during a staff conversation, I was asked if I still had all my own teeth!!
Until next time. Love, Mark & Liz…