Green-lighting his own future - with help from Sunshine
Go was 13 when he first came to Sunshine in 2003. Although he longed to study, he had never been to school because his parents were so poor. Instead, he collected scrap materials to help supplement the family's meagre income. It was hot and dirty work and as a young boy working on busy city streets, Go was quite vulnerable.
NEW LIFE AT SUNSHINE
Life changed dramatically when he joined Sunshine. He still remembers his excitement at finally being given the chance to learn and he proved himself as a bright and capable student. As a growing teenage boy, he also remembers how good it was to eat! The provision of two meals each day at the Centre meant the burden on his parents, who had 4 children, was considerably reduced.
GO TURNS 16
After 3 years in primary school, Go was 16 years old and so Sunshine arranged some vocational training for him, as a tuk-tuk driver. However, English was Go's favourite subject and as he wanted to be an English teacher, he gave up tuk-tuk driving, so he could go back to school.
"When he was younger, Go was quite fiery! But he's really settled now. He speaks gently and respects his elders. He is also a clever student and will become a good teacher in the future."Go's teacher
2007 saw another significant event in Go's life, when he started to read the Bible and was baptised, after coming to understand God's great love for him. Whilst secure in the knowledge that God cared about him, daily life continued to be a struggle. He was now trying to put himself through school, but in order to pay tuition fees, was working in his free time running a motorcycle taxi service and providing English tuition.
RETURN TO SUNSHINE
When Sunshine staff heard about Go's situation, he was invited back as a mature age secondary student. Go is often at the top of his class so his nickname is very fitting! We wish him every success in his studies and are delighted to stand with him as he works to turn his dream into reality.
A MESSAGE FROM GO
"I am really happy that Sunshine has helped me so much - physically, emotionally and spiritually and I am thankful for all its support. Sunshine oriented me to know the world and I hope that Sunshine continues helping poor and unprivileged children and help families improve living standards.
I enjoy attending church and I read my Bible every day. I know that God loves me and my family and has shown us his mercy and compassion.
I want to be an English teacher and help children at risk learn English so they could generate some income to support their families. I'd like to contribute what I have learnt to Sunshine too, as well as earn enough to support my family. It would be great to have my own computer and be able to buy more text books to study at home. Please keep praying for me!"
Healing the scars of her past
Chenda (not her real name) first came to Sunshine Cambodia eight years ago, as a little girl, four years of age. Already her life was marked with violence, suffering and abuse...
Chenda was born in rural Cambodia, where she lived with her parents and older brother and sister. Her father drank heavily and frequently became violent. He took no responsibility for providing for his family and in fact would squander what little food and money they had, on alcohol. Chenda's older brother recalls... "Every day he would steal our rice and exchange it with wine." If there was nothing to steal, the family were subjected to violent outbursts.
Although she was very young at the time, Chenda remembers her father too:
"One day, when we were all sleeping, he put a knife on my throat. It was to threaten my mother to get her money and buy more wine for him. We were all very frightened." Chenda's early memory of her father
At this point, Chenda's mother fled, with her 3 young children, to Phnom Penh. A Christian lady took the family in and they found support at Hagar - a Christian organisation committed to empowering women and children who have been trafficked, abused or just abandoned by their husbands and fathers.
NEW LIFE AT SUNSHINE
After six months at the Hagar Shelter, the family were introduced to Sunshine where they found strength, support and encouragement to begin a new life. Chenda and her brother and sister could now go to school like other children. She began to dream about being a leader in a company. For several years they lived in a small, wooden one room house. Chenda's mother worked as a cook in one of Phnom Penh's many garment factories. The stepfather was a moto-taxi driver. Things were tough but okay. One of Chenda's teachers at the time had this to say about the family:
"I have known Chenda since she was little. In the beginning, her older sister used to carry her to the Centre each day! Their situation was so difficult but now, thanks to Sunshine, their life is so much better. The 3 children all try hard with their studies. Each day they come along looking clean and tidy. They speak nicely to each other and really love one another..."
A TRAGIC TURN
Chenda's mother suffered a chronic respiratory illness but was able to manage it for several years. However, by the end of 2012 she took a turn for the worse and tragically passed away a couple of months later. The fate of the 3 children was uncertain with some relatives wanting them to return to the province and others wanting them to stay in Phnom Penh. A relative took them in but the children were deeply unhappy there and decided to rent a room on their own. However, even though the older sister was working as a cook/cleaner, she only earned $65 a month. This was half of what the three needed to survive.
ONGOING SUNSHINE SUPPORT
Sunshine is now providing special sponsorship to make up the balance, to ensure that the three siblings can remain together and the two youngest can complete their schooling.
Their lives have been harder than most of us can imagine, but together we can help Chenda work towards her dream.
Success against the odds
Nary (not her real name) was just 6 years old when she came to Sunshine.
Today, as a beautiful 16 year old, she is one of the top students in grade 11, at a private Cambodian school, on a Sunshine scholarship.
She is also receiving private English tution and her dream is to become a doctor.
We are very excited as we anticipate our first Sunshine University students, and so proud of Nary, as her success (as with all of our older students) has been against the odds.
THE EARLY YEARS
Nary comes from a Khmer-Vietnamese family. She is the second eldest of 4 daughters. Nary's father did not take care of his family, leaving Nary's mother alone, struggling to support the 4 girls.
Prior to coming to Sunshine, Nary had commenced Grade 1. However, her schooling came to an abrupt end when it was necessary for her mother to move the 4 girls away. On their own and locked into a daily struggle for survival, the outlook was bleak. Nary was particularly affected as she was a bright little girl and eager to learn.
Fortunately, in their new neighbourhood, they were introduced to Sunshine by another family, already beneficiaries of the programme. So Nary and two of her sisters started regularly attending catch up classes at the Centre (as it was then). Later, Sunshine enrolled the girls into public school, and they continued to enjoy the full benefits of the Sunshine programme.
At the time, Nary was profoundly grateful for this...
"Here changed my life! Here I knew God and became a Christian! Here I was reborn! Thank you God for bringing me to Sunshine. Our life faced a lot of problems. However, because of God's grace, my sisters and I were supported by Sunshine. I'm learning life skills, receiving extra tuition, and taking classes in computer, English and craft. The Sunshine teachers also teach me how to serve the other young children too."Nary, 2010
Sunshine staff were very concerned when Nary suddenly disappeared.
One day in 2011, all the Sunshine staff were shocked and very concerned when Nary and her family suddenly disappeared. They had been whisked back to Vietnam, to their mother's hometown. Nary was able to make a couple of quick phone calls to Sunshine staff but could not explain much and was very upset to be in a country where everything and everyone was unfamiliar.
It was only recently that Nary felt able to speak of that traumatic time. She wrote out her story for the Sunshine Director, with tears falling all the while. After that, they prayed together.
NARY IN VIETNAM
"My sisters and I did not want to go to Vietnam. We had been born in Cambodia and we don't speak much Vietnamese. At first, we did not know why our mother took us to Vietnam. But later, she told us that we could not live in Cambodia anymore. My sisters and I cried and cried when we heard those words. My mother had borrowed a lot of money to help my father start a car repair business. But my father secretly used the loan to get another wife. The money lenders always came for the repayments but my mother's nail business did not make much money and she also needed to pay rent and bills and look after us all. That's why she decided run away to Vietnam without telling anyone, including my father. We left at the beginning of 2011 and she said it would only be for one week."
"It was a nightmare to me ..." Nary
"My mother had not been to her hometown for over 20 years. It was hard. We did not speak much Vietnamese. We had nowhere to stay so we lived with our uncle. It was a nightmare to me that we would not be going back to Cambodia. We had to find jobs. First, we helped prepare steamed cakes by fastening the banana leaves with string. We were promised $30 per month but after working 10 days, they only gave us $5. Then my mother, my older sister and I found work as waitresses and dish washers where we could earn about $60 a month. We rented a bike from neighbors to go to work. After three months of this, we decided to come back to Cambodia. So we had to get different jobs to save more money. My mother worked in a noodle shop and my sister got a job as a house helper in another province. By August 2011 we had saved enough and could return home to Cambodia!"
RESTARTING LIFE IN CAMBODIA
The first thing they did was to call Sunshine and they were happily welcomed back.
"I thank God who prepares the way and I also really thank Sunshine who did not abandon me, even though we were gone for many months. Sunshine has given me hope and a bright future by enrolling me at a good private school. I am amazed at this opportunity. I want to become a doctor and serve the poor and needy people, like Sunshine does. Sunshine is my example!"
Nary is doing excellent work at school and at home. Her father is now living peacefully with his new wife and is not harassing them. Her mother and older sister can earn enough money for day to day living. Nary and her two younger sisters are continuing at school with Sunshine support.
"I would like to express my profound gratitude to donors, Sunshine staff, and relevant agencies that support and serve many children and their families (including me) with their money, strength, wisdom, and kind hearts."
"May God bless you with good health, strength, wisdom and abundant life from the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!"Nary's prayer for you