Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy 1st Anniversary RAP Home!

Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary when we welcomed several young women into the RAP Community home. It was fitting that a Ratanak team from Canada was visiting Cambodia during this time. The team is made up of both Ratanak staff from Canada and some of our volunteers who work in raising awareness through their fundraising activities our hosting events for us. So we were especially blessed by having them come and celebrate not only the 1 year anniversary but also the 1 month birthday of Ratanak Daniel!
Ratanak Canada team

The festivities began at around 3pm when the team arrived and as part of our warm up games, the young women at RAP and our staff had to guess who were Ratanak staff and who were Ratanak volunteers. That led to a few rounds of laughter as the young women assumed that the older ones were staff and the younger ones were volunteers. Then the tables were reversed and we mixed up the Khmer staff and young women and the Canadian team had to choose who was staff and who was living at the RAP home. One of the advantages that the Khmer have is they all look so ageless so it was a bit of a challenge for the Canadian team.
Musical chairs

Jessica and Joy our two Ratanak staff had prepared a few ice breaker games and brought prizes along for the winners. We have found this to be very valuable in helping the young women at RAP overcome their initial shyness as we rarely have guests or short term visitors to the RAP home as a way of not infringing on the young women's privacy given that it is their home. But as well, we are mindful that these young women are still on a journey of healing and learning about healthy attachments with their caregivers. So the need to limit visitors is of primary importance to support ongoing bonding with those who walk with them on a daily process.

We started with the all too familiar musical chairs game which left a few minor injuries as one of our heavier weighted staff promptly sat on the leg of one of our young women---she has recovered from the soreness of that event!:-)

3 legged race with Canadian and Khmer staff

''Papa Brian matching pictures with one of the young women''

Following that, several other games ie: 3 legged race outside and a matching picture game all led to more laughter. But one of my favorite games was one in which each person was giving a picture of an animal and they had to find others who had the same picture but this could only be done by making the sound of the animal. We figured this was a good cross cultural game since it only required animal sounds and no verbal language. However we all discovered that as people walked around trying to find others who had the same animal sound,  there was a translation adjustment. Did you know that a Cambodian pig goes ''ou, ou'' while a Canadian pig goes ''oink, oink'' or that a Canadian cow say ''moo, moo'' but a Cambodian cow says ''more more!'' You can only imagine how difficult it was trying to match these sounds in a room crowded with 30 plus people. Suffice to say the game was a huge success with peels of laughter and to top it all, there was even a cross cultural lesson discovered! As an aside,  I guess next time when I sing to Baby Daniel,  I will have to change the version of the kids tune ''the wheels on the bus go around and around and the cows on the bus go ''more more more'' :-)

From there, it was the young women's turn as they locked arms with some of the visitors and took them on a tour around the RAP home to see their rooms as well as some of the office rooms with some of our staff  When everyone returned to the main entrance, '' Papa Brian shared a small speech thanking the RAP young women for allowing the guests to come and visit their home and congratulated them for adjusting to many changes and challenges as they moved from a shelter to the RAP Community home. At the end, the Canadian team had prepared little gift bags for the young women and also our staff. So often everyone focuses on blessing the young women but it is equally as important to remember that without our staff, we could not provide the care and services to support the young women.
Bloom cake for the Young Women and a 1 month birthday cake for baby Daniel
 We ordered a wonderful cake from our favorite bakery Bloom for the young women in honor of their 1 year anniversary at the RAP home and also a little birthday cake to celebrate Baby Daniel's 1 month. In the midst of all the games and activities, baby Daniel was busily sleeping his life a way immune to all the laughter and noise!
Baby Daniel with Sokunthy our social worker

Our evening of celebration continued at the Pizza Company for all of our staff and young women. Some of whom slowly began to practice their English on their Canadian visitors. It was wonderful time for the Canadian team to spend time with their Khmer counterparts and the young women. After all, our staff in Canada and our volunteers so often work in jobs behind the scene and spend countless hours praying for our team and the young women on this end.

All in all it was a light hearted entertaining afternoon and evening. A time to join together as one big family in Christ. Epheisans 3:4-5 says: For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. As the team returns to Canada shortly, I am reminded that whether we are Canadian or Khmer, we are all one in Christ. We all have the same purpose. To see God glorified in the lives of the young women! It is our efforts together as a team, whether praying, whether fundraising, or those of us who work on the front lines ministering directly to the young women ---we are all on a journey together walking with them so that they too will encounter the one glorious hope that we all have in Christ. It is that glorious hope that enables all of us to continue to persevere in the midst of challenges and stresses knowing that as He binds us together, He is the One that unites us and He is the One that will sustain us because He is the One that is doing the work of redemption as we remain faithful to that which He has called each of us!

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