Friday, September 16, 2016

Starting School in Cambodia and Working with Children of Prisoners

School started August 10th, and with it a very different schedule. Our mornings (and the night before) are busy making sure the kids have everything they need for the day, breakfast, teeth brushed, uniforms on etc. before we get out the door and on a tuk-tuk.
Their school has a dual language program with English and Khmer, all on the same level. Because this would mean Talia taking 4th grade subjects in a language she completely doesn't understand, she comes home after the English program. The boys, however, are at the right age to learn Khmer, so they stay later. At first this meant making 3 separate tuk tuk rides throughout the day to get everyone to and from school, but now Talia takes the school bus (whose route just started) home and is excited to do that for the first time. They seem to be adjusting well, and like their classes.

When they started their school, I started my work with Prison Fellowship International. I work with the Children of Prisoners Program to help children around the world who have lost a parent to prison  get sponsors. This program began after a prison ministry program. The mentors would go into the prisons and hear the same request almost every time. "Will you please tell me how my kids are?" When the mentors went out to find the kids of these prisoners sometimes they found grandmothers on their deathbeds struggling for all they were worth to stay alive and protect the children. Sometimes those children were being rented out as slaves. Some were sold into prostitution without a protector there to prevent that. Some begged on the streets to survive. The hardest news to relay was when they had to tell a prisoner that their child had died. This program was started to connect these very needy children with a sponsor who would supply (usually only $28 a month) to help the child stay in school, have access to healthcare and counseling if needed. The prison ministry part also focuses on helping prisoners reintegrate with society and their families after they come out so that these children can have a family again. Otherwise, what often happens is that they end up right back in jail. There is so much more information connected to these three ministries by Prison Fellowship International, but basically, my role gets the information about the children edited and verified so that it can be sent to the main office and they can get a sponsor. The people I work with here in Cambodia are wonderful people, also, with varying roles in this program.

I realize my blessings every day as I see the photos of children from these countries. I'm thankful my children have food, shelter, people who love and protect them and the ability to go to school.

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