Published on: 01/10/2016

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Be Free

Be Free Cambodia: October 2016

"I’m so happy to be here, I love working in Be Free because I am shown love and feel so welcome and warm in my heart. What is more important is this is a Christian place and I thank God for bringing me here".

This is a quote from our newest trainee who just started on Monday. She is 19 years old and has a daughter who also started in our Early Learning Centre on the same day. We are overjoyed to have both Mum and daughter join our family and we are excited about the journey they have both started.

In August we held a graduation ceremony for two trainees who had successfully completed the 12 month program. During the year we watched them grow and develop in character, they both are able to live independently and care for their children. Our graduation ceremonies are so beautiful and we get quite emotional as the girls talk about their time in Be Free and how it has changed their life.

This one was extra special as our junior dance team from church opened the ceremony, one of the dancers is the daughter of one of the graduates and her life also has been transformed through Be Free. During the trainee’s time in Be Free she opened up to us about how her eldest daughter was living in the province with her grandparents and she was concerned because it wasn’t the safest situation for her daughter.

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With the help of the organisation we partner with we were able to reunite mother and daughter and place her in a good school in Phnom Penh. She is a delightful child and it is wonderful to see her playing with her new friends and blossoming over the last number of months.

The graduates were presented with their certificates, a bracelet with their name engraved, a book of photographs taken during their time in Be Free, flowers and of course, cake! It is a wonderful occasion as we honour them for all they have achieved. Both girls are in full time employment, are faithful members of our church and the staff in Be Free are so proud of them.

When we returned from furlough in June, a volunteer has been teaching English each week in Be Free. Emily Jacques first came to Cambodia two years ago as part of a short term mission’s team from Guernsey. She studied teaching English as a foreign language and is here until January. The girls in Be Free love her and as we have many visitors, Emily is helping them to ask questions about their time in Cambodia and what their home country is like.

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The Be Free family have just celebrated a very special occasion with the wedding of Sokim and Somnang. Since we have known Sokim we have been praying that God would bring an extra special man to love both her and her daughter Chiera, and our prayers were answered. Sokim and Somnang have known each other for 9 years and got back in touch with each other in March. He is a wonderful, Christian man who works in a bakery and demonstrates his love for Sokim by bringing fresh bread, croissants and other delights to Be Free each morning. Their engagement took place and the wedding date was set for 8th October.

David and I were honoured to stand in for Sokim’s parents and it was a wedding day that we will never forget for many reasons. Our best friends from Northern Ireland were present with us, the McKee family have been to Cambodia a few times now, and Sokim stayed in their home when she was in the UK with us. The date of the wedding was set because they had booked flights for October.

The morning ceremonies all ran smoothly commencing at 7:30 am and with many wardrobe changes. In total throughout the day Sokim had 8 outfit changes and her hair was also restyled! It was a very humbling and emotional moment for David as he walked Sokim down the aisle for the Christian ceremony and then assisted Pastor Chamnap with the vows and wedding service.

The guests all enjoyed lunch and then the evening reception commenced from 5pm. The beautiful marquee was set up with chandeliers and friends and family started to arrive for the wedding banquet. The bridal party were at the entrance welcoming all their guests who then sat down to enjoy the 7 course meal. Tables of 10 started to fill up and everyone was in great spirits as they celebrated with Sokim and Somnang. And then, the last thing you want to happen during a wedding being held outside happened. The heavens opened to monsoon rain, thunder and lightning! Guests ran for shelter as heavy rain came through the canopy above us, water was running beside the chandeliers and the organisers were worried the marquee would collapse with the weight of the heavy downpour.

We were devastated for Sokim and Somnang, but their smiles shone through the monsoon and said it was God’s blessing to them. Family and friends worked so hard through the rain getting tables and chairs inside the church, escorting guests inside where the party carried on there. Sokim and Somnang thoroughly enjoyed their wedding day and we wish them every happiness for their future together!

Closing words from Sokim, Be Free’s manager:

Thank you so much for supporting the work of Be Free, for those who do fundraising events, for those who sponsor a trainee, for those who sponsor the children to attend the Early Learning Centre, for those who buy the cards and handicrafts the girls make, for those who pray; we appreciate all of you and thank God for you. We are so blessed by you all. May God bless you all too, thank you.

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