About two years ago, Light Times featured Project Khmer Hope (PKH), an organization providing a unique education program for the young of poor families. The project has developed considerably since then, as was obvious at its Alumni Dinnerheld at the Himawari Hotel and Apartments in September, 2016.
Attending were students from three PKH projects—Chbarmorn, Aoral, and the Trang Centre—who together gave thanks to God for what He has done in their lives through the organization.
Ms Susan Goh, director of PKH, likewise expressed thanksgiving to God for His kindness and the generosity of supporters of PKH’s work for the poor:
“We are so proud to say that tonight we have 125 ex-students here, from 2006, 2007, 2008 right up to 2016. This is wonderful. This is the biggest number of graduates. I was told to expect 100 ex-students for this Alumni Dinner, but yesterday I had to ask for an extension first to 120, then to 125.
“Some asked if they could just come along to see the guests from Singapore and teachers and their friends. They said they don’t need toeat or a seat and would leave early! ‘Can I do that?’
My heart was so moved that I had to let them join in this special event, which is rightfully for them too. But they have learned to be understanding and not easily upset if they couldn’t attend this time. Because of their time at PKH, they have been transformed in their attitudes and way of thinking. This is how God prepares them for the workforce—with strength and love.”
The feedback from the evening also encouraged PKH’s staff who had to stay back in order to care for the three centers and staff adopted as the English teachers for the PKH English school. With 74 Singaporean guests in the room who sponsored PKH had a wonderful experience as they interacted with the former students they had supported and helped toward a better life.
Said Ms Susan, “We would not have this event tonight if we did not have our Alumni. We want to thank all our graduates for everyone’s love for PKH—the staff and teachers, your pastors—and most importantly our Almighty God. Thank you for your overwhelming interest in PKH and joining us in this event to thank God for His blessings, protection and guidance for you and all of the students who have studied at PKH and are now working and growing stronger, mature in mind, in body, and hopefully, in spirit!”
In her short presentation, Susan updated the students about PKH’s graduates. She mentioned since PKH started its Vocational Training at PKH Chbarmorn for poor Cambodians in 2005, teaching them English, computer, hospitality, and industrial-technical skills, some 711 have graduated. In addition two groups have graduated from the new Aoral Centre (2014 and 2015). Of the 711 graduates, more than 300 are working in Phnom Penh, 76 in Siem Reap, and more than 30 in Sihanoukville. One is working in Japan, one on a cruise ship based in Italy, and many others are back in Cambodia after a few years of work experience in hotels in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the Seychelles, Phuket, and even Miami.
One, Neov Sarath—he calls himself Aaron—graduatedfrom hospitality in 2014. Aaron has only his mother, as his father has passed away, and his older eight siblings are married. Soon after graduating, Aaron was interviewed and was accepted for a position in new hotel opening. Unfortunately, he failed his medical check and the hotel rejected him. But he did not lose hope. He trusted God. Finally, he went into another hotel and very quickly began work as a spa attendant. He was overjoyed and thankful. Aaron gives a love offering to PKH in thanks.
After about four months working as a spa attendant, Aaron received a call for interview on a cruise ship. He passed the interview and in 2015 began work on a ship plying the Mekong River to Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City. His salary went up considerably, and was supplemented with tips. But he hadn’t forgotten how he felt when his pockets were empty. Now he experiences God’s blessings.
In April 2016, it was low season and the boats were not operating, Aaron visited PKH and shared his experience and testimony with the students. He then went home, where he was faced with a dilemma. His mother was very ill and needed a heart surgery in Phnom Penh Hospital. His older siblings did not have any money to help her. So Aaron took his entire year’s savings of some US$3000 to pay for her surgery and hospital stay. He was left with just US$200 in his pocket. But he was thankful that God has provided him the way to help his mother and care for her when his siblings could not.
Aaron is at peace with himself and he knows that God has prepared him for this emergency. He said that he is very happy he can start working and save again.
So the many graduates have moved on, escaping the poverty cycle. They were once poor, lost with no direction or purpose in life, with no hope and no help.
Says Ms Susan, “We thank God for giving them PKH and also the many teachers and staff to take care of them and love them. Without God, there will be no PKH, no teachers and staff, no kind supporters, no committee members. Then the poor young Cambodians will not have what they have today. We sowed the seeds, we watered them, but God is the One who made them grow.”