Meet Lisette de Greef.
I did. While waiting on the bus today. Then, for four hours on the bus we got to talk.
Lisette is from Amsterdam Holland. She was spending a month in Cambodia to work with a small poor region that very much needs help. She is one of two women running an NGO and helping this area.
The story goes like this:
A friend of Lisette’s is Carola Kaller. Several years ago Carola was in Cambodia for a holiday and her bus broke down in a small town. While her bus was broken down Carola began to look around and saw many many people who were in need of much needed help. Very poor housing or food. No water. No way to care for their children. She begin to raise funds. Today, she and Lisette give relief to the people of the region. They have a manager who lives in the town and also teaches in the high school. He is in touch with the community and their needs. Lisette and Carola visit frequently to know the people and see how things are going themselves. They do things like buy cows for people, construct water pumps or fund housing. They also have a small orphanage with 5 children.
What amazes me about all this…they are people just like you and me. They see a need. They do what they can. And it means so so much!!! It makes me want to throw up my hands and cheer for People! 🙂
You can read more about the organization here: Hopeful Children Center
I met Pacadi when I went to the city of Kampot and visited Sisters II Cafe. She had chocolate fudge pie. 🙂 She also had an amazing story.
Pacadi’s mother left the family when she was very small. Her father was not a good caregiver and she went to live with her Mother’s mother (her grandmother) when she was very small. Her grandmother died when she was eight years old. After this she went to live with her other grandmother, her fathers mother, who was also not a good caregiver. Pacadi said they worked her as if she was a slave and she had to sleep with the chickens. Her father gave her no attention. As she was telling me this she cried.
She tried to commit suicide at age 10.
When she was 12 years old, people in the village knew how unhappy she was. Some men coerced her into going with them saying they were going to help her find her mother. In reality though, they were going to sell her in the sex trade.
At this point in the story Pacadi, with much passion and tears in her eyes said “But, God knew me before I knew Him”
She was loaded into a big truck with a lot of girls. So many girls, in fact, that Pacadi was squeezed in and her legs hung over the side of the truck. As they were traveling down the road, another vehicle came along hit Pacadi’s legs sending her flying from the truck and terribly injuring her leg. The drivers of her truck went to see her, but left her on the side of the road unconscious.
Someone took her to a UN hospital where they amputated her leg. She ended up in an orphanage but she was so glad to have escaped her old life and being trafficked. She learned English. She grew up. She Married a wonderful man. She became a Christian. She opened a bakery with the help of contacts she made through the orphanage. She had a daughter.
Then, a few years ago she was in an orphanage and came across a little boy that no one wanted because he was too dark. Dark skin is not desired here. She and her husband decided to adopt him and named their new son Simon. She said “My heart is very close to Simon because no one wanted him, and no one wanted me.”
Pon has become my first Khmer friend. I met him when I got off the bus for the first time in Kep. I was trying to tell my Tuk Tuk driver where I wanted to go and he overheard. “Oh, you want to go to Mandi’s house?” He asked in pretty good English. Then he told my driver how to get there. We’ve been friends ever since. He has taken me on his moto all over the Kep area showing me really cool stuff…hidden beaches, secret swimming caves and pepper plantations. He is also one of Mandi’s closest friends and every Sunday he takes the whole family to church on his Tuk Tuk. He goes also. He has been a valuable resource and friend to Mandi and she frequently asks his advice and listens to him since he understands the culture. A couple of days ago he went to the neighboring city of Kampot with us to get tires for Mandi’s eco friendly house she is building on her rice fields. (see below under MANDI). The house is going to be wonderful, cool and cheap but it’s going to take about 150 dirt filled tired to build it. He went with us, helped make negotiations for the tires, then went back the next day to hired two trucks to take the tires back, then unloaded all the tires onto Mandi’s land.
He is a good good friend. 🙂
I am sitting in a Cambodian home where seven children are squeeling all around me in a big family wresting match and are laughing their heads off. Mandi Silvers is among them and is the one they call “Mom”. 33 years old from Plaino Texas, Mandi had volunteered in Cambodian orphanages before she and her 8 year old daughter Gabbi moved to the small village of Kep to set up a home and foster six children, all siblings and ranging in age from five to 19. She feels God has called her to this work and has carved a place for herself in a village where she is one of the very few foreign residents. The children, like so many other Cambodian children, have parents who are unable to care for and feed them. They have been in and out of orphanages all their lives depending on how hard the times were for their parents. Mandi got to know and love the siblings when she was working at an orphanage in Phnom Penh. Then, when that orpahnage was no longer able to keep the family, Mandi decided to help. Now she is Mom to six Khmer children and Gabbi has six new siblings.
Her vision of help doesn’t stop there. She, with the help of friends, has been able to purchase a small bit of land and has built the first of 3 houses there. The plan is to use the small farm for a needy Khmer family, setting them up in an interest free pig farm and equipping them with the tools to get on their feet.
This is the first house at Mandi’s farm project she has named “Roots”.
Still another plan that is in the works for Mandi is a village on Snake Island in the Gulf of Thiland. The children of the island suffer from severe malnutrition and other health issues. Much of the need surrounds a lack of education and the need for inexpensive medical supplies. Mandi hopes to bring in resources to help.
Mandi has a foundation set up and donations to her are tax deductable. If you have an interest in contributing to Mandi and her work or finding out more information, check out her blog:
or message her on Facebook…Mandi Silvers, Kep, Cambodia