In Cambodia, halfway around the world…
Seven young children depend on the North Chapel community for giving them hope for living a meaningful life.
Since 2010, we and our friends have found personal inner meaning and joy by sponsoring one of seven houses full of children at Life and Hope Association’s (LHA) Children’s Development Village, located near Siem Reap, Cambodia – home to the famous Angkor Wat temples.
If you visited, you would discover seven small raised houses, a covered outdoor dining hall, library, and administrative offices, clustered together to form a small community. Your heart would be touched by the 40 children who live there and by the adults who make it their job to ensure that these children have a meaningful future.
LHA is an education focused organization, operated by the Buddhist monks of the Wat Damnak temple in Siem Reap. It is committed to alleviating poverty, ignorance and hardship through creating equal access to education for the underprivileged in their community. Their name aptly states their goal: to give LIFE and HOPE to Cambodia’s needy and vulnerable.
Besides the Children’s Development Village, LHA also operates a sewing training school, a foreign language school, a sustainability community project, and a program to advance the education of young girls who otherwise would not be able to attend school. Funding for these remarkable programs comes from sources across the world.
Each year, our community sets aside a time to celebrate the wonderful work of LHA and to raise funds to help support the children who live in the house which we fund. This happens two ways. First, our entire Thanksgiving offering is set aside for LHA. In addition, we join together for a program and dinner which allows us to gain an update on the year’s LHGA activities and raise the thousands of dollars we have promised to send to support the coming year.
The 27 year old Cambodian monk who brought us together
Cambodia is best know for two things. The first is it’s early civilization demonstrated by incredible historical temples, like Angkor Wat, that were lost for ages.
The second is the reign of terror Cambodian’s suffered from 1975 to 1979. During these four years, Pol Pot’s regime’s actions resulted in the death of approximately one-third of the country’s population. If you are interested, click here for a four paragraph summary of Cambodia’s history.
Venerable Hoeurn Somnieng, co-founder of Life and Hope Association was born in 1980, right after the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. His vision for Cambodia’s future includes a permanent reign of love.
In 2007, Venerable Somnieng visited Woodstock to conduct a meditation in the church social hall. Several people were impressed by this 27 year old monk and his efforts to provide loving care and education to poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable children and young women in Cambodia. That fall, we dedicated our Thanksgiving offering to the work of LHA. Since then, the reach of LHA’s achievements has steadily expanded. It has been especially heartening to see the results achieved by this upcoming leader.
Ven. Somnieng has become a frequent visitor to North Chapel, keeping us informed of his continually expanding LHA programs. At different times, half a dozen members or friends of our congregation have also visited Life and Hope Association to observe or participate in various projects. Each has been extremely impressed by what they have observed.
Many in our community believe that our connection with Venerable Somnieng and LHA enriches our spiritual lives.
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