Anne and Anthony McCormick

Thanks from Anthony and Anne

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We’ve both been overwhelmed at the warmth of the support we have received during our time of Leave & Home Service here in New Zealand. We want to say a very big thank you to all of those churches which have hosted us and the many people who continue to pray & support us on an ongoing basis. 

We return to Cambodia in two weeks and hope to communicate with you all more regularly during our next term. We’ll be writing more regularly on our blog in this coming season, which can be found at www.anneandanthony.wordpress.com. You can even sign up to receive email alerts when we write new blogs – just scroll down the page a bit and look for the “Follow blog via email” heading. And if you’re not on our newsletter list, please email office@nzcms.org.nz and ask to be added.

Christchurch Cambodian Evening

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Join Anthony and Anne McCormick for an evening celebrating all things Cambodian, complete with Khmer cuisine, entertainment and an update from folk who have recently returned from Cambodia. Saturday 5 August 6pm at St Christopher’s Church (corner Avonhead Rd and Coniston Ave). 

Tickets $25 per adult (family price available).

Tickets available from Anne (ph. 022 457 6924), the NZCMS Office or St Christopher’s (Office hours 9am-2pm Mon-Fri).

If you’re planning on coming, please respond immediately as the caterer needs to know final numbers on Thursday morning.

Waste Not, Want Not (Issue 27)

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Sometimes I feel as if I’ve graduated from a Recycling 101 class… and with flying colours. I work in a trauma hospital in Cambodia’s second biggest city. No, I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’ve started a crafts programme to help with patients’ psychological recovery. Because of where I am, and because the project isn’t funded by the hospital, I’ve needed to find ways to make it sustainable and cost-effective. And sustainability also means it’s important that it doesn’t cause any harm to the community we live amongst. That’s one reason the Hollander Critter papermaking machine we started using in our project last year has been so valuable.

But there’s another reason this machine has proven so valuable. By using it, we’re able to make something out of nothing. I find this very satisfying, and it turns out I’ve been able to role-model this for those with whom I interact and work daily – almost without exception, the patients here struggle to find enough money to pay their hospital bills, adding considerably to the stress of being a long-term patient. By watching the project and participating as they’re able, people can discover that there are useful resources all around us – we just need to change the way we view things!

“One man’s trash…”

The world around us starts to look different when we have this change of perspective. Here’s some examples from the paper project:

Pages coloured in and thrown away by children in the hospital become the base of the fabric pulp for our paper making Pre-loved cotton that started its days as clothing, bedding, towels or tiny bits of fabric of no use for our “Days for Girls” (org) project become essential elements for the paper A tailor’s scraps of traditional Khmer silk and lace become trimmings for the cards we make Small pieces of silk fabric and offcuts of traditional Khmer scarves become a source of colour and texture for plain paper Husks discarded by the man who makes sugarcane juice are rescued from the roadside and are turned into paper as well Leftover coconut husks from a foot massage project which uses coconut oil products made by the staff become valuable for adding texture Discarded banana tree trunks can also be used to make paper of a tissue-paperlike consistency Pieces of handmade paper too small to be made into greeting cards become gift cards to complement the bigger cards we make

I’m not just involved with papermaking. Another thing I do is operate a small mobile library. This warms my librarian’s heart as I can put books into the hands of many who don’t normally have the opportunity to read. The trolley I use to distribute the books was cobbled together from old IV drip stands and other scrap metal from retired hospital equipment! I found what I needed in a shop, photographed it, showed it to the maintenance team and bingo! A week later I had my very own recycled trolley . It works a treat!

Many patients have benefitted from donations of retired reading glasses from an optometrist in Melbourne. The two most common reasons I’m given when asking patients if they want to borrow a book are “Knyom ot jeh arn” (I don’t know how to read) and “Knyom ot merl kern” (I can’t see). While we can’t help with the first problem, the donated glasses go a long way towards helping people who otherwise couldn’t read the books I offer.

And so the various aspects of my project inter-connect and I’m able to use leftovers from one part of the programme, or from another hospital department, in some other way. A smile crosses my face when I reflect on how I’m making a difference in the lives of patients who have met tragedy in their lives. That’s what I came to do. It’s doubly satisfying to know I’m also modelling good practice in reusing resources while being a responsible steward of what God has provided. God can indeed do amazing things with very little and I’m both honoured and humbled to be the vessel he’s using in this place at this time.

Anne and her husband Anthony are NZCMS Mission Partners serving patients in a Cambodian hospital.

 

For discussion

In what ways is God challenging you to ‘change the way you see’?

Is there anything from your daily life that could be recycled in a creative way rather than going into land-fill?

Newsworthy in Battambang

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If a newspaper can publish a collection of random snippets about everything in general and nothing in particular, so can this blog!  What follows is a collection of random snippets about life in Battambang – the city in Cambodia we currently call home.  Enjoy!

The weather

In general this year, we haven’t experienced much of a cooler season, except on two occasions, each of a few days’ duration, when the morning temperatures have been around 15!  This unusual happening caused us to dig deep to find the only thin blanket we own.  Most of the time we don’t even need a sheet on top of us when we sleep!

Such “cold weather” was enough to make the locals all reach for hats, scarves, gloves and jackets! At the hospital, patients were bundled up under  blankets  and many of them kept their head covered in an attempt to feel warmer.   Many of the knitted hats made by the ladies of the St Christopher’s knitting group came into their own and were very warmly received – excuse the pun! Caregivers congregated outside in the sun when ousted from the wards due to doctors’ rounds. This was such a contrast to most of the time here, when we all try hard to avoid the sun as it is just too hot!

Traffic lights

Battambang has just had traffic lights installed at several locations around the city.  The lights are the fancy variety which tell you how long it is until the light changes for the direction you want to go.  This is pretty amazing, since Battambang is Cambodia’s  second largest city and it has taken this long to get them here!  Mind you, their existence doesn’t necessarily mean a lot to the locals who are just as likely to ignore them in the same way they disregard traffic rules! One popular trick at intersections is to avoid the lights and duck off through gas station forecourts or bypass them by going onto the footpath!  One complicated intersection near the hospital,  with roads in five directions is now much more manageable. As an interesting aside, the Khmer phrase for traffic light is “plerng stop” which is literally “light or electricity stop!”

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were in town!

Yes, Battambang was the scene for a movie currently being made, directed by Hollywood’s Angelina Jolie who, with her husband Brad Pitt and adopted Khmer son, Maddox, was seen around town – not by me, I might add!  The movie is “First They Killed My Father” and is set in the 1960s. It is based on a non-fiction book  published in 2000, written by Loung Ung, a Cambodian author and survivor of the Pol Pot regime.  It is a personal account of her experiences during the Khmer Rouge years.

Buildings in the central town area were retrospectively refurbished to look as they did then.  Many of them now have French signs on their frontages.  Huge car transporters rolled into town carrying cars of the day, joined by big trucks carrying other scenery and effects to recreate the times accurately.

All this excitement in town caused huge disruption and rush hour traffic – yes, we do have a small rush hour here! – ground to a halt due to the closure of bridges and streets where filming is took place.  Venturing out anywhere needed careful thought and it was advisable to have a couple of alternative routes, albeit round about, planned in advance.

A word from Angelina about the movie: “I was deeply affected by Loung’s book [‘First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers’]. It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son’s homeland.” Angelina Jolie Pitt.

Meanwhile at the hospital

My programme continues with its usual mix of tragedy and delight.  I frequently ponder about the range of emotions I see and sometimes experience during the course of a working day.  One minute I am moved to tears seeing a small girl with severe head trauma as a result of coming off a motorbike not having worn a helmet.  She has just been sent home as the hospital can’t do anything for her.  A nurse said to me today, “Only God can help her”.  Please join me in praying that He will, indeed, do a miracle and restore this little girl to her family.

The next minute, I witness delight on the face of a young man finally able to go home after a very long stay in hospital due to the severity of his leg injury – also sustained in a motorbike accident.  “I can walk!” he says as he goes past me on his way to the gate and back into the real world.

Monks and jigsaw puzzles

Would seem to be an unlikely mix – but mix they did the other day in the women’s ward!  I went into the ward with a group of Youth with a Mission volunteers who came to spend time with the patients.  We took in a puzzle for a long-term patient to tackle, then went to deliver a game to another patient.  When I went back to check on progress with the jigsaw, I was somewhat surprised to see that a visiting monk was joining in the task of trying to complete the puzzle!  Khmer people don’t usually do jigsaw puzzles and the logic and methodology  needed to complete the task aren’t usually part of their skill set.  I usually have to explain how to go about doing it.  Not this time!  The monk was doing a great job.  You would have thought he does puzzles like that all the time!

 

What a variety of situations we encounter in our lives here! Hopefully this glimpse of life in Battambang will provide a peek into our world and help you picture more accurately where we are and what we are doing.

 

This was originally posted to the McCormick’s blog. You can sign up to receive email notifications from them by visiting their blog and filling in your email address on the right side of the page (scroll down a little to find it). Click here.

Social Work in Cambodia

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The last update posted here from the McCormicks focused on Anne’s work. But what about Anthony’s new social work project?

In the same time-frame that I have set up my programme, Anthony has set up a social work department at the hospital, starting from scratch, in an environment where social work is not well understood. This is typical of Cambodia, not just the hospital. He began in October last year, working alone initially, developing policies and writing procedures to set the department on a good footing to a professional standard.

A translator joined him and together they worked on making all the documentation bilingual, as there is very little by way of social work resources in the Khmer language. This is due to the fact that it is a relatively new discipline in Cambodia, the first students graduated from a degree programme run in Phnom Penh in conjunction with a Washington university as recently as 2012.

Two fulltime social workers and a counsellor have since joined the team. They have found, as they visit patients in the wards, that there is a huge need for their services. The lives of so many at the hospital have changed forever because of the accidents or incidents which they have experienced. The social work team works to try to help them overcome the difficulties and challenges they will face in their daily lives when they are discharged from the hospital.

Training and mentoring the social work staff is a big part of Anthony’s work and is an aspect that he enjoys.  He has developed connections with social workers in other organisations and they join his team for monthly training sessions.

Anthony feels that, like me, he is putting his past training and experience to good use and the result is lives better equipped to face a different future.

Anthony’s social work team is pictured above: Sothea (translator), Sreymom (social worker), Sitha (Counsellor), Visal (Social worker)

Nothing is wasted

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As I work away happily at the hospital these days, I can’t help but think back to all the training and experience I have had throughout my life and realise afresh that it is all being put to good use as I pursue my current role. My library training and desire to put books into the hands of Khmer people who, traditionally, are not great readers, meant that one of the first things I did when I started in this role was to purchase some books, have a trolley made by the hospital maintenance team and trundle around the wards several times a week to deliver books to the patients and their caregivers – my own mobile library!

The book trolley was cobbled together from old IV drip stands and other scrap metal from retired hospital equipment of various types! I found what I needed in a shop, photographed it, showed it to the team and, bingo – a week later I had my very own recycled trolley. It works a treat!

Almost all patients have a caregiver staying with them 24/7, as nurses in this country give out medication and do dressings, but they don’t feed, bathe or toilet their patients – those tasks are left to relatives to do.

Every day is different – I never quite know what I’ll be doing from one day to the next. My interaction with the patients is governed by the schedules of the doctors and medical staff who do the ward rounds daily. If the rounds are completed efficiently, I am able to spend some time in the mornings with patients. If there are delays, I have to work around the doctors’ schedules, which may mean little or no patient contact. If that is the case, I usually try to do some activities with the caregivers.

I have found that the best way to generate interest in what I have to offer is to take an activity into the sitting areas outside the wards and just start doing it. I am usually joined quite quickly by folk curious to see what I’m doing and before long, quite a crowd gathers and they all join in. It is obvious to me as I watch that my activities are stress-relieving, as the relatives and caregivers chat away to each other and laugh – a welcome release from the rather tense atmosphere in the wards where there is often so much pain and tragedy.

Nothing is wasted.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve graduated from the Recycling 101 class with flying colours. I’m taken back to my Guiding days when I learned “a Guide is thrifty”, or to the times my Mum said “be careful and don’t waste anything!” Both Mum and my Guide leader would be proud of me as I really have got into recycling and making something out of nothing in a big way – a direct result of having to be a creative problem-solver as my project is reliant solely on donations (of money and resources) and currently receives no hospital funding.

Let me share some of the ways I recycle with you:

The paper I use as a base for the fabric pulp has had a previous life in the hospital office or social work department, or as pages that children in the hospital have coloured in and discarded when they have finished. The cotton fabric scraps I use in the papermaking machine are all pre-loved and started their days as clothing, bedding, towels or tiny bits of fabric of no use by Sokim who sews for the “Days for Girls” project I have started. (Visit daysforgirls.org to find out more about this worthwhile project) A tailor in the market keeps small scraps of traditional Khmer silk for me for use in trimming the cards we make My friend who runs a foot massage project which uses coconut oil products made by her staff, sends the leftover husks my way Sugarcane husks are rescued from the roadside where they have been discarded by the man who makes sugarcane drink Flowers from the Bougainvillea bushes near my room are carefully removed from the pile of pruning done by the gardener, to boil up to make dye for the more uninteresting coloured paper we produce Fabric given to me for the papermaking machine, if it is not pure cotton or linen, is redirected and is sewn into bags in which toys and games are kept and circulated to patients Scalpels past their use-by date make great mini craft knives! Many hospital patients have benefitted from donations of reading glasses from an optometrist in Melbourne, brought here by the Care for Cambodians group which visits a couple of times a year. The two most common reasons I am given when asking patients if they would like to borrow a book to look at are “Knyom ot jeh arn” (I don’t know how to read”) and “Knyom ot merl kern” (I cannot see).  While we can’t help with the first reason, the donated glasses go a long way helping people who otherwise couldn’t read the books I offer them.

I find it very satisfying to see how the various aspects of my project inter-connect and especially, how leftovers from one part of the programme, or from another hospital department, can be utilised. I continue to marvel at how God has equipped both me for the work I am currently doing, as well as the programme with resources. My room, empty except for basic furniture when I started just eleven months ago, is now bulging with equipment. My heart is warmed and a smile crosses my face when I reflect on how I am making a difference in the lives of hospital patients who have met tragedy in their lives.  That is what I came to do. Thank you, Lord!

 

The above post has been shortened. To see the original click here.

More hands needed

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I’ve been having a great time interacting with patients at World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang, Cambodia. But I have a significant problem. As it turns out, I only have one pair of hands and that isn’t nearly enough to handle all the work that needs to be done!

If you would like to help out, there is an opportunity for short term volunteers in my activity programme.  Are you planning a holiday in Asia?  Could you call in to help for a while? Drop me an email at annemcc3@gmail.com if this interests you.

Church in Cambodia

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I figured you might be interested in finding out a little bit about what church looks like for us Sunday by Sunday.

Christianity in Cambodia has its roots in Battambang, so perhaps it is not surprising that, although there are many temples in this city, there are also around 35 Christian churches – not a bad number for a Buddhist city of around 200 000 people!

The church we attend is called Cambodia Christian Church.  The current church building was built in 2011.  Visiting and helping sick people, the elderly, widows, assisting poor children, orphans and people in need is an ongoing work of the church.  Bible lessons, English language, music instruction and song are shared throughout the week to children without cost.

The Sunday service commences at 8.30am.  The average attendance each week is around 70 people, and unlike the other churches we have attended since coming to Cambodia in 2011, there are proportionately quite a few older folk – older than us!  There are also young adults and children and often, visiting teams from Youth With a Mission, which has had a long association over the years with our church and which is very active in Battambang, due mainly to the presence of seven universities in the city.  We have teams regularly from Colorada Springs and Montana in the US.  A number of the young people in the church have had involvement with YWAM in the States and, on their return, they assist with translation as their English is usually pretty good. The service is primarily in Khmer, but translation of the main components of the service happens when there is a significant number of foreigners – which turns out to be most weeks!

A typical Sunday service opens in prayer and then we sing three or four worship songs, often songs we know – like Hillsong, as well as some homegrown Khmer songs.   Like everything here, the music is LOUD!  (Khmer people are not known for doing anything quietly and church music is no exception!).  We have a music group, consisting of a keyboard, guitar(s), drums and, sometimes, a tro –  traditional Khmer fiddle – played by an older man.

After the worship in which we all participate, there is usually a musical item from a large group of church members, both men and women.  They sing from the hymnal and the hymn is a traditional Khmer one, which is to say the tune is rather strange and unpredictable and, to my ear, not particularly musical!  Sometimes the children from the family ministry or the young adults perform a song, usually with actions, and these items are quite delightful.  Next comes the offertory (dongwaie) and we all parade up to the front of the church in a line and put our offering in a blue crate type offertory box.

Pastor Khiev Phon (pictured above) then shares the notices.  We are exhorted to pray for church members who are unwell or who have a need of some sort.   It is not unusual for the pastor to announce the passing of an older church member, or someone from another church.  There is a special fund which operates amongst the Christian community in Battambang and, when someone dies, a financial contribution is made from Funeral Association members, to help cover the cost of the funeral.  Traditionally, funerals here take place at the temple and the locals are cremated there too, but this is obviously not appropriate for Christians, thus the existence of the special fund.  Sometimes the pastor announces a special appeal, for example, to build a fence or make an addition to the roof and a second offering is received for this purpose.

Next comes the sermon but it is not usually the pastor who preaches!  He is almost 78 years old and is desperately trying to find a successor.  He usually invites one of the elders or a visiting preacher to preach.  Sometimes our American friend and retired pastor Don Whitney preaches and we can be sure of a good message – in English! – when he does.  Don is usually a quiet, reserved man – but, when he preaches, it is as if he undergoes a character change and frequently has us shouting out “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” when cued!  He also loves to dance and often has us dancing as he finishes delivering his message!  Sometimes one of the YWAM group shares the message, so all up, we have quite a variety of preachers.

The service concludes with Pastor Khiev Phon reflecting briefly on the message of the sermon and praying.  We then sing the doxology and it is time to go home.

We have had a few particularly memorable services recently. One Sunday recently, the pastor introduced a new convert to the congregation – a teenage girl who had been witnessed to by her sister and had made a decision that, like her sister, she wants to follow Jesus.  These two young girls face quite a lot of opposition from their Buddhist family, so practising their faith is an ongoing challenge for them.

Perhaps the most notable service was last Sunday when the pastor shared his testimony and gave us an informative presentation about the history of the church. Pastor Khiev Phon spoke of his early years, growing up with his grandmother as his parents had separated. He became a Christian through the ministry of American missionaries and his grandparents were particularly influential in his Christian development. His grandfather was a pastor, who attended Bible School in Battambang in 1927 and began his ministry there. Mrs Ouch Dyna, Pastor Khiev Phon’s wife, has also been a Christian for many years. Her father was a Pastor and a missionary to Thailand. They have seven children and 18 grandchildren, most of whom are involved in the church, which Pastor Khiev Phon started in 1997 after quite a few years as a teacher and school principal. In his testimony he spoke of God’s miraculous intervention to save him from the hands of the Khmer Rouge soldiers, who usually killed anyone who was educated. It was a very moving occasion and concluded with us gathering around Pastor Khiev Phon and praying for him as he currently has some health issues.

I found an interesting blog on the internet about Pastor Khiev Phon.  It was written a few years ago by a YWAM team member and I recommend you read it for more information about this remarkable, yet humble man who loves and serves His Lord faithfully. Click here to read it.

To see the original post by Anne, visit their blog at anneandanthony.wordpress.com

Cambodian History in the Making

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A little bit of history was made at World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang recently when Mark Lander, paper-maker extraordinaire from Amberley, arrived from New Zealand with one of his Hollander Critter machines for my use at the hospital. My project, “Twer Daoee Dai”  (Made by Hand) was born! Our machine, purchased with funds raised while back in New Zealand last year, is the 402nd one Mark has made over the last 15 years or so. He seldom gets the opportunity to travel to set up the machine as he did by coming to Cambodia and the presence of one of his machines in Battambang is a first for Cambodia.

The bulk of the machine was sent by courier, arriving safely a week or so before Mark did. It arrived in Phnom Penh, then completed its journey by bus to Battambang. Instead of travelling with ‘normal’ luggage, Mark came with a large aluminium vat on wheels, in which were other items for the paper-making process he knew would not be available in Cambodia. His personal belongings were limited to what he could carry in his hand luggage.

Mark flew into Siem Reap and we went up to meet him, then travelled back with him by bus to Battambang. What followed were seven days of frantic activity, during which Mark purchased wood and other materials to make accessories for use with the papermaking machine and proceeded to make, from scratch, 50 molds for paper, a box to mount the fabric cutter he brought with him. Anthony and I worked alongside him at times, Anthony sanding the frames of the molds, me cutting the special nylon wire which Mark then stretched over the frames, before attaching them with the help of his trusty thirty year old air-driven staple gun, brought along specially for this purpose.

Making the frames was a time-consuming and tiring activity, especially with the heat increasing daily. It was at the end of the week, with all the preparation done, that we were ready to make our first batch of paper.

I had been saving scraps of what I thought was cotton fabric to be the basis of our first batch – however, when Mark cast his experienced eye over it, it was declared unsuitable as it wasn’t pure cotton. Man-made fabrics don’t break down in the machine, so cannot be used. In the absence of any other suitable material, two cotton sheets I had covering equipment in my workspace were quickly appropriated for the job. It was a case of “goodbye cotton sheets” as Mark showed me how to run them through the fabric cutter safely to turn them into small squares ready to go into the machine. Some scrap paper was torn up to start off the batch, the cotton fabric added and the machine filled with water.

We then plugged the Hollander in and, bingo, after much anticipation and preparation, we were finally underway with making paper! The machine graunched and groaned as it started up and what had gone in as cotton fabric was quite soon turned into pulp. I poked and prodded the pulp with a long stick to keep the mix moving around the tub of the machine. It soon became apparent that there was a lot of soap residue from the many times the sheets had been washed, so we had to ditch the water to get rid of it and start over with a new lot of clean water! Approximately three and a half hours later, Mark declared the pulp to be the right consistency and it was time to transfer it to the molds.

The vat was half filled with water, several bowls full of pulp were added and we were ready to dip the molds into the mix, shake them gently – there is an art to this which I have yet to perfect! – roll them with a paint roller over felt attached to a suction box (in the absence of a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to do this part of the job), then stand them carefully against the fence in the sun to dry. Several hours later, we peeled the paper off. What we produced from our white sheets with sprigs of blue flowers on them was nice pale mauve, reasonably thick, textured paper.

Now it was time to experiment with some locally available natural products. We set off to find a sugarcane juicing machine on the roadside and asked the man operating it if we could have his discarded husks. He readily agreed and we grabbed several armfuls, purchased sugarcane drinks from him as a thank you, and headed back to the hospital to try our luck with another batch of paper.

The process for making paper from natural products is similar to that using cotton fabric, however, there is no need to assist the drying of the pulp once on the molds. Mark showed me how to break up the husks ready for boiling them in caustic soda and water to soften them prior to putting them into the machine. We were both amazed and delighted to discover that this process took only about 45 minutes – a considerably shorter time than when Mark makes paper from flax which has to be boiled for around 5 hours!

Once the husks were soft enough, they were rinsed in water and placed in the Hollander. Keeping the pulp mix moving around the machine is more of a challenge as the long fibers get tangled around the spindle quite easily. Once they were broken down enough to move freely, we left them and returned a few hours later to find the pulp ready to put onto the molds. The dipping of the molds into the pulp and water mix in the big vat happened again and they were put out to dry. We left them overnight and returned the next morning to find fifty sheets of lovely thin, opaque, golden coloured paper.

With two successful batches of paper made already (thanks more to Mark’s expertise than any skill on my part!), Mark disappeared off into the bushes at the end of our street before we went to the hospital one morning, emerging triumphantly with a trunk from a banana tree in his arms. This was to be the basis of another batch of paper. Mark showed me how to strip the coating from the trunk to expose the fibers inside. We then processed the fiber in the same way as for the paper made from sugarcane husks. This time, the result was thin, opaque beige paper with quite a sheen to it.

What we were doing generated a considerable amount of interest and, throughout the week Mark worked at the hospital setting up the machine and making the molds, many staff visited my workspace and were intrigued by what we were doing. Several expressed interest in participating, and plans are afoot to make this a reality – I certainly can’t do the whole papermaking process, along with everything else I do, with just one pair of hands!

Mark’s time here went all too quickly and before long, it was time for him to head to Siem Reap for his flight back to his family at home. The time Mark spent here was the fulfilment of a long time of planning and fundraising for me. It was a fun time and I was blown away by the humility of Mark the paper craftsman who was so willing to share his expertise, learnt over many years of papermaking, with me. He is passionate about what he does and was genuinely excited to be in Cambodia.

Thank you, Mark, for sharing your life and skills so freely with me for the ultimate aim of providing a unique leisure activity for patients at the hospital, many of whom will derive much pleasure from their involvement in the craft of handmade paper. It will be exciting to see what we can make with the paper we produce! I aim to make saleable products to generate income so that the activity programme at the hospital is eventually self-sustaining.

If you, or someone you know, would like a holiday with a difference and would like to come to Cambodia to volunteer for a period at the hospital, assisting me with paper-making and other activities that are part of my programme, let me know!

To see more images from the above story, click here.

Commotion in Cambodia

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One Monday morning I met a Vietnamese lady when doing the rounds with activities for the children. She seemed rather agitated, so I decided to try finding out why. With the help of one of the Curtin interns who was Vietnamese, I discovered the cause of her agitation – her husband had died the night before in the village a long way away and she needed to be seen by a doctor in order to be discharged to arrange and attend his funeral. I spoke to the right people to facilitate this, then returned to her bedside to hold her hand and try to show some comfort. She was discharged later that morning, and, before she left, she asked the Vietnamese student to find me to say how much she appreciated the concern I had shown for her – which was such a simple thing for me to do.

And then there was the elderly, bald lady in C ward who had no caregiver present when I was passing. I noticed she wanted a drink but couldn’t move enough to reach the cup. Of course, I helped her and she beamed a toothless smile at me.

Outside the hospital, in our daily lives, we often have opportunities to be a blessing to others less fortunate than ourselves. One Friday morning while I was on the balcony of our house (pictured above) doing my usual daily Bible reading, I heard a commotion below and realised that the rubbish truck was doing the rounds. As I watched, I was surprised to see that one of the workers on the truck was a woman and that her two children were accompanying her on the rounds. What a life for these poor children, who looked so bedraggled in their torn, dirty clothes with no shoes. I determined immediately to do something to help them and, next time they appeared, took some food to them which was devoured eagerly – obviously they had not had anything to eat so far that day. A mere drop in the bucket in terms of their need, but at least I did what I could.

And they all, hospital patients and others, without exception, said “arkoon tom tom” – thank you very much. I had the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:40 resonating in my brain for quite some time. “When you do it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it for me.”

Although the needs here can sometimes feel overwhelming, as virtually all the hospital patients have a sad story, the grateful thanks I receive for the small encouragements I am able to bring them make my role worthwhile and very rewarding.

What a privilege it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this dark and needy place where many are overcome by helplessness and hopelessness.  My prayer is that God will continue to give me a heart of compassion and resolve to make a small difference in the lives of the poor and needy in the best way I can.

 

For more from Anne and Anthony McCormick, visit anneandanthony.wordpress.com