These past few days I think we have gotten a taste of what a new mother must feel like when a baby is born! One's time is no longer their own! :-) Saturday was the move in day for 13 young women into the RAP home. We were dealing with a whole bunch of new schedules, with many needs and different requests coming all at the same time and young women with various emotions, It was an early start first picking up a suitcase of supplies at 7am that a team from Canada had just brought over and then arriving at the RAP home at 7:30am. Some of our staff were already there. One of home advisors was already preparing the initial lunch meal. Within the next week the young women will then begin the journey of preparing meals for each other. But for these first few days we felt it was necessary to just welcome them and help them get settled in.
|Sophea (Home Advisor) preparing fried chicken for lunch|
Over night our Home Advisors had prepared and label the rooms with the following names: Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy. It is our prayer that each of the young women will truly experience all of these attributes as they spend time at the RAP home.
|The ''Faith'' bedroom|
|The ''Peace'' Bedroom|
The first group of young women arrived just after 8am with their caregivers along with their suitcases, body pillows, stuffed animals, books and other paraphernalia. One young woman even brought her own little fan.
|Stuffed animals on top of a suitcase|
|School books and personal belongings|
Our staff welcomed them and brought them into the main greeting area to review the schedule that was on the white board so that they could learn what would be happening over the course of the day.
|Young women listening to Malak (Psychosocial Coordinator) discussing the schedule for their first day|
|Unpacking items in the bedroom|
|Second group of young women's items arrive|
The farewells were not easy for one set of young women. It was clear how attached they were to their caregivers and even as they left, several of them stood at the gate entrance with tears in their eyes, some sobbing quietly. My maternal instincts came out in full force as did those of my staff as we simply held them. For these young women who have endured so much in their lives, it was a bitter sweet moment, saying goodbye to those whose tangible expressions of love had been healing to their wounded souls. Yet here they were, in a new environment, having to trust a new set of people and develop new relationships all over again. I can’t help but admire the courage and the resilience God has built into their hearts to keep moving forward and to face the challenges ahead.
Once their caregivers left, it was time to unpack and begin this new journey with new friends. Some young women were very organized and managed to set up their clothes cabinet very quickly so while they were waiting time for the others, I joined one of our other staff and played a game that the young women had brought with them. It was a time of just relaxing and having a few laughs together.
|One of the Young Women organizing her clothing cabinet|
|Nary (Operations Manager) playing a Khmer game with a couple of the young women|
|Young Women's cell phones and lights being charged --feeling at home!|
Lunch time came by quickly and our first time together as one big family. One of the girls who is full of energy and enthusiasm had helped set the table in a joyful manner. It was clear that she was just excited to be here.
After lunch, it was suppose to be a rest time but I found myself playing badminton in the mid afternoon heat for 25 minutes with one of the young women. All those years of playing competitive badminton is coming in handy here---talk about some good exercise! Other young women were watching TV, playing video games and reading in the library. The emotional farewells in the morning had given a way to an afternoon lightness among the group as they began to get familiar with their new home. At 2pm, it was time for them to receive their bicycles---our staff had numbered their bikes and the girls had to chose numbers from one to thirteen.
|Young Women's bicycles with helmets|
|Going for a ride!|
Some of the young women decided to try out their bikes and explore their new neighborhood surroundings and then following that it was time for a mid afternoon snack ---a cake from our friends at Bloom Cafe that was donated from one of our partner churches in Canada.
|"Welcome Cake'' from Bloom|
After dinner it was time to go over the Young Women's Handbook. This is a book that our Technical consultant Julie had helped us create. It has been a wonderful tool that we gave the young women to review to determine whether this program would be of interest to them. The Handbook contains all sorts of information on different aspects of living in a community home and it is a tool to manage the young women's expectations so that they are well informed on what they can expect during their time here. Our Counselor and Social worker went over the handbook to address any initial questions and provide clarification that the young women would have.
|Soklin (Counselor) & Sereyrom(Social Worker) reviewing the Young Women's Handbook with the young women|
It was a long day but by evening some of the young women were relaxing and checking out their favorite online programs on the computers. Others were just quite happy to just take it easy.
|Relaxing at the computer room|
Our two senior staff --Nary and Malak were totally wiped after navigating many different questions and situations during the day.
|Nary (Operations Manager -left) and Malak (Psychosocial Coordiantor - right) taking a much needed break|
They had a brief time out before we went up to the ''Joy Room'' with our home advisors---this is the TV/Recreational room and had a group meeting with the young women. We formed a circle and holding hands together joined in prayer for the Young Women. Following that, we went around to each of the bedrooms and then asked if there was any specific prayer requests that the young women had so we could pray with them right then and there. Many of them were asking for good health, the ability to do well at school, to get to know our staff better, for Jesus to increase their faith and for God to bless them with a deep love for their other housemates and our RAP staff. I am humbled by such prayers of these young women and their capacity to adjust to new surroundings with new challenges. Despite what has been two long days, the physical tiredness is nothing compared to the deep joy that we are experiencing of spending time with our young friends, laughing with them as they tease us and tease each other.
|Slippers - Good night from the RAP home|
By 9pm it was time to head home and as I took this last picture of the slippers, I was reminded of the different gifting, different talents, different personalities of each young women who is staying at the RAP home. We feel so blessed at having this privilege of journeying with them. We look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to give shape and form the passions He has planted deep within their hearts for He has fearfully and wonderfully made them!
Stay tune for Day 2 --- visiting church and our first outing as a group!