As you know by now yesterday was our last day working in Svay Pak. We worked a little longer than usual to finish up what we could and we did our best to tidy up for team 2. Team 2 arrived just before lunch looking very fresh after having just stepped off the airplane. Their first impression of us must have been what a 'ghastly' looking crew - covered in paint, red dust from head to toe and dripping with beads of sweat. We all enjoyed another fantastic Khmer lunch, next we gathered together with team 2 for a briefing of what had been completed within the building and then we went outside for a team photo.....team 1 looking not so fresh and team 2 looking very fresh.
At the end of the day, we said our many goodbyes, gave our hugs, lingered as LONG as possible and then slowly walked out of the village. Needless to say an emotional but fitting end to our time in Svay Pak. I'm certain all of us have left a piece of our heart in the village.
Around 3 a.m. I heard what sounded like the moving of furniture upstairs. The moving of furniture turned out to be a thunderstorm that had moved in. Plan A, to paint an outside wall at Hagar school quickly changed this morning to plan B and that was to have a morning of relaxation. Several of us decided to jump in tuk tuks and head to the newly opened store 'Daughters'. "Daughters of Cambodia empowers victims of sex-expolitation to set themselves free from the sex industry in Cambodia and change their lives." The men in the group did what they had to do and they were pretty quick........I think it was a good hour before we ladies finished shopping. I'm not sure who was more excited, the employees in the store or us!!!!
Our plans for the afternoon included the honour of being invited guests to NewSong. Brian M., his wife Lou and their 2 boys joined us as well. In this secure facility, overseen by Don & Bridget Brewster, there is a sense of real joy amongst the girls. We were well prepared for our time spent at NewSong, i.e. do not talk about the past, think about the present and the future and whatever you do, do not cry in front of the girls!!!! It was an amazing opportunity to watch 57 girls who have experienced what none of us can even begin to imagine and to see their joy. Joy as we walked in to have lunch with them, joy as they grabbed the hands of the ladies to have their fingernails painted, joy in one of the most competitive volleyball games I have ever seen and joy as they practiced speaking english with us. These young lives are being transformed over the course of years from darkness to light. Thanks be to God.
After leaving NewSong we headed to Bloom Cafe & Cakes. Again this is another business that has been established to 'empower victims of trafficking through vocational training and employment.' Bloom specializes in cupcakes and cakes and is equal to anything I have seen on the television show 'Cake Boss'. As we were all enjoying a variety of cup cakes and something to drink, I announced "I am just so happy. This is one of the best days of my life!" To see how these lives are being transformed is a miracle. Again, thanks be to God.
Our day ended with a celebration dinner for the 20th Anniversary of the Ratanak Foundation at a restuarant called Jars of Clay. Both teams, Brian M. and his family and a number of other Ratanak supporters were in attendance. It was a wonderful gathering and a chance to get to know team 2.
It has been quite a day and one that I will carry with me forever. Blessings. Mary