Ratanak UK Team Visiting Siem Reap
Comments from Steve Norman - Ratanak UK Director
The two days spent in Siem Reap have produced so many memories and encounters. From the official dedication on the library through the majesty of Angkor Wat to a final farewell to children and university students working tirelessly to effect change not only on their own lives but also on their communities.
The opening ceremony was attended by nearly 300 people from all walks of life including Government officials, the Chief of Police, community elders and the children. To have a celebration with such an overtly Christian content amongst such dignitaries is in itself unusual. Here I was able to present the Chief of Police with a speed radar which was kindly donated for me to bring over. What followed was a radio call and an impromptu training session to around 15 members of the local force! We all stood in the middle of a dirt track whilst they took it in turns to ride up and down so each could observe and learn. The hope is that with some official endorsement lives will be saved on the surrounding roads.
The community library project provides opportunities for up to 10,000 children in the catchment area to access the internet and use the library and sports facilities. This is the only internet anywhere in this area and for the first time children are able to experience the wider world. They work tirelessly to perfect their reading and computer skills as well as enjoying the recreational facilities. These children live in some of the poorest situations imaginable so readily grasp these opportunities to change their situations.
I also had the privilege to meet the two young men who we are sponsoring through university as they sat and shared devotions and a personal time of worship. Both are doing well in their first term.
Today we visited Angkor Wat, a world heritage site and location of some 1200 year old temples. As I looked at these vast monuments with their intricate carvings all I could ponder was how much time and energy was put into building these over centuries. Then I reflected on how much time I sometimes put in to my relationship with God and stood ashamed.
Now we are back in Phnom Penh and the tougher second week begins with a visit to S21 – a prison during the Khmer Rouge reign where between 14 and 22,000 people were ritually tortured. It is then on to Cheoung Ek – the killing where each of these individuals were executed including children and babies. To see this is to begin to understand the tragedy experienced by the majority of the populous.
The team are doing great and this evening we have been joined by Jason from Australia who has fitted right in. Thank you again for your messages of support and ongoing prayers