Our work in Phnom Penh has been operating since the year 2000. Originally the ministry was pioneered by an Australian woman who then passed it on to the local Khmer Christian community to control. We have three projects; Deborah Girls' House, Joshua Boys' House and a project for our university students (young people who have graduated from our two houses).
The Joshua House boys now have their own building, a 4 storey detached townhouse, which Empower Asia purchased in 2016. The girls' ministry home is based at our Country Director's own personal house. The Cambodia work has a very good track record. Over the years we have seen many young people develop as good and positive Christian citizens. Now we are seeing some of our graduates moving onto our Khmer board of control.
At present the ministry has produced: three doctors, a civil engineer, two social workers, many business graduates, two lawyers, accountants and a number of others who are making a significant social impact.
Soky Sokea (aged 27 years) writes:
"As a child I was orphaned. So my brother and I grew up with our grandparents. They did not own land and had to work for others. Their daily wages were very low. This meant that we could never financially progress. I would cry in despair because I just felt like my life was hopeless. I knew that I would never have an opportunity to study because we had no money to support my studies. When I went to school I was often late arriving for school and returning home each night because I had to walk 2-3 hours each way. Many times I had no lunch."
"Eventually when I was selected to live at Joshua Boys’ House back in 2002 I simply could not believe how good life with Empower Asia was! Now I could daily go to school, I had food, school books, clothing and I learnt about God. Now I felt that I had a future! After high school I studied management at university.”
Now Soky is a social worker operating within a Christian NGO working with children on the front line by both rescuing and preventing them from involvement in Phnom Penh's massive sex industry. Soky continues, “If you could help more kids [like I once was] to come to our Empower Asia boys' and girls' homes then that would be wonderful."
Although the socio-economic situation in Cambodia has improved there is still a severe shortage of health clinics, education and basic infrastructure. The sex industry is huge and accompanied by an acute HIV rate. The life expectancy at birth was just 63 years in 2010. Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the region. Malnutrition affects many Cambodian children with 40% showing moderate or severe stunting (UNICEF 2008-12.)
Primary school enrolment rates are high, but so many children repeat grades that it takes on average more than 10 years to complete primary school. Less than half of all students make it that far. (UNICEF, June 2011)
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