Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Week at the RAP Home

I was hoping to do more frequent blogs this past week but life at the RAP home has been busy and there has not been much free time to reflect but over the next few days things will be a bit more relaxing. With many World leaders (U.S President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao) visiting Cambodia in the next for the Asean Summit several main roads in Phnom Penh are being closed. In conjunction with this the schools are closed and so are some businesses so all of this provides a much needed break both for the young women at RAP and ourselves.

This past week started off on Sunday morning with all of the young women going to a local Khmer church we are partnering with. The worship at this church is full of energy and our young women knew most of the songs we sang that morning. In fact, they were having a fair bit of fun dancing to a Khmer worship song and were attempting to teach me this but I convinced them that worship dancing was not my least for this moment! :-) Following the service it was back to the RAP home for lunch and for a mini break before we set out for a trip around the local area so the young women could get acquainted with all the places in the neighborhood they live in. We ended up at one of the plaza's nearby for some frozen yogurt ice cream.

Monday morning arrived and it was off to school and to work, we had 2 cars and 1 van taking young women in different directions. I felt like one of those school mums dropping kids in the morning and picking them up. Here in Cambodia, most young people do not have full day school. Most of the schools are for 1/2 a day but for those of us who are working, we have to use our time wisely in the hours we have before we need to pick up the young women. Now I can appreciate all those stay at home Mums who have to arrange their schedules around their childrens schedules. One learns to multi task in a whole new way! Nonetheless, with all the comings and goings at the RAP home one thing I continue to be amazed about is the resilience of the young women who are staying here. They have gone through so much and yet they are so adaptable, flexible and resilient. Perhaps its because they have such strong survival instincts that they can adapt to new situations. I thank God for many who have been praying for their adjustment at RAP. God has been clearly answering these prayers.

We are slowly getting into a routine at the RAP home. These young women are fairly self sufficient when it comes to doing chores. Unlike North American teenagers who often can be spoiled, here each young women does her own laundry by hand. This is the Khmer way. There are no washing machines. So each day we see different young women taking their dirty clothes to the back and washing by hand and hanging their clothes.
Soklin our Counselor talking to one of the young women
We also have a rotation schedule for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen so each young woman will be taking turns cooking. Some of them already know how to cook and are excited to finally be able to practice their culinary skills. They asked if I loved to cook and I told them I loved to eat so I'm excited that they want to cook! For the past few days I have been sampling their food. I am impressed already with their cooking abilities as the food is quite tasty and healthy. One of the first meals made by one of the young woman was a fish soup and a beef and broccoli stir fry dish. It was all very tasty and quite healthy.
Vegetable Fish soup and a broccoli Stir fry with meat
One of the other favorite meals they made was Loc Lac ---a traditional Khmer meat dish that is made with cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. They also made a sweet and sour fish which I practically devoured as it was incredibly tasty. I have a feeling I will be gaining some weight over the next few weeks!

Loc lac (Khmer Meat Dish) and Sweet and Sour Fish
Week 1 has now ended and today some of them are off to a friend's birthday party nearby. Slowly they are ''finding their wings'' learning to be independent as they take their bicycles and head off to spend time with their friends. Whenever they leave the RAP home, we have a sign out white board where they list where they are going and with whom and what time they leave and expect to be back in.  Others are now heading to the local market to do some shopping.
Young Women watching cartoons on the computer
Still others are quite happy to use this rest day to just relax and take it easy by watching movies on the computer or playing computer games or just hanging out in their rooms listening to music and I might add, the sound of the music is loud! Oh to have teenagers in the home! It is joyful noise but it is a joy to see them just be like normal young people relaxing and having the opportunity to just rest knowing they are in a place of safety and peace.

A Young Women washing the hair of our Operations Manager
For our staff, it is a joy to just hang around these young women. Today our Operations Manager Nary had one of them wash her hair which involves a hair massage. These are small ways in which to engage conversation with the young women and to build trust and cultivate our friendship with them. Later this afternoon, I will bake a cake with them...and when I say ''bake'' its one of those Betty Crocker cake mixes I brought back from Canada.

In all of these activities, we simply praise God and give thanks to the Lord for all He is doing in each of their lives and our lives. It is an incredible privilege to simply spend time with these young women and to walk along side them. I admire their inner strength and their ability to overcome so many obstacles along the way. They truly are my heroes!

1 comment:

  1. awesome Lisa. so great to hear your admiration of the girls. that is so dignifying. excited at the day of small beginnings! the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!