During late December, a team of volunteers from Burwood Adventist Community Church partnered with Restore One to help make a difference in a rural village in Cambodia. Little did the team members realise that through the opportunity to serve and bless others they gained just as much of a blessing.

Cambodia is a country that has endured a painful history and continues to heal and develop. Although many local people have experienced pain and loss, it was inspiring to see their resilience and to experience their warmth and joy.

Restore One has been in Cambodia for 6 1/2 years and has helped to established a primary school, secondary school and pre-school in a rural village and is where the volunteer team participated in a range of activities.  To improve health and sanitation in the village the team helped build and paint toilets in bright, attractive colours and designs. The families who received them were grateful and thrilled to see the finished Picasso-like loos. A highlight for the village was the pop-up clothing shop where shoppers were treated to an impromptu fashion parade which brought fun and laughter to the lively event. We are thankful for the generous donations of clothing and shoes that made this event possible. Funds raised went to Restore One (school).

A visit to the primary school saw the team engaging in fun, practical ways of teaching hygiene. Students were pleased to receive a new toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

At the secondary school, nurses from the team taught students basic first aid, while others taught English, Science, sewing, piano and photography. Construction of the Year 12 classroom walls was started. A highlight for all the secondary students was having their class photos taken. Year 7 students were surprised to received new stationery packs donated by Burwood Community Church members. The inaugural Year 12 class was thrilled when presented with their yearbook made especially for their cohort. Many of these students are hoping to go on with further study and training. Upon reading the yearbook it struck us that this school is making a huge difference in the lives of students by helping change the trajectory of their lives and in turn helping their families also to have a brighter future.

When given an opportunity to serve go for it, even if you are not sure how you can help. When we make ourselves available to serve, God can use us to bless others in ways we never even imagined.

Natalie Thomas