Church orphanage offers refuge to Cambodian children
5/19/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn
A UMNS Feature By Nancye Willis*
By Nancye Willis*
Pani has spent half his life in a Cambodian orphanage,
waiting for his parents to return. Five years ago, they went to look for
work in neighboring Thailand, leaving him behind.
Now 10 years
old, Pani still waits in the community of Kbal Spean, Cambodia. He's
being cared for through a program of the United Methodist Church - one
that provides both physical and spiritual nourishment to children like
Cambodia is one of the poorest nations. The orphan
population in the Southeast Asian country has been estimated at more
than 200,000. Many of the children were orphaned during the destructive
reign of the Khmer Rouge, the name given to native Cambodian communists.
Many children live in crowded government orphanages that are
poorly funded, as well as Christian orphanages. Not all the residents of
the orphanages are parentless. Often, a child may have one or both
parents, but is sent to an orphanage because the parents can't afford to
care for him or her.
The orphanage provides food, love,
spiritual guidance and a refuge from despair to children like Pani, who
still have hope that they will be reunited with family.
like 12-year-old Ryna, are true orphans. "Her story is very sad," says
Chanthy Yi, an interpreter. Ryna's father died in the war, and her
mother was killed by a land mine while she harvested rice.
But, adds Chanthy, Ryna is "very happy to be here. She has a lot of hope to have a long future."
orphanage in Kbal Spean operates under the auspices of the Cambodian
Christian Methodist Association, a group of 200 churches in connection
with the United Methodist Church, the Swiss Mission Board of United
Methodists, the Korean Methodist Church, the Malaysian Methodist Church
and the Singapore Methodist Church.
The association is registered
with the Cambodian government and serves as an umbrella organization
for all churches and organizations in the Methodist connection.
United Methodist missionaries are stationed in Cambodia through the
denomination's Board of Global Ministries, headquartered in New York.
Pani's story and that of the United Methodist-related orphanage are featured on a UMTV video available online at www.umtv.org.
# # #
*Willis is editor of the Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications. UMTV is a unit of that team.
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