december 26, 2012 01:24pm
A Year Ago
As a child my mother would ask all the time, "Do you know what happened a year ago today?" We began calling these "Year Ago" moments. In honor of my mother, I will share a few "year ago" moments.
November 28, 2011 at 9:00am, I headed to the Tri-Cities airport to move half way around the world. My flight gets delayed, I make a mad dash to Asheville, and that's just the rocky beginning. Late evening Dec 1, I arrived in Cambodia. A 24-hour trip eventually takes me 110 hours because of delays and layovers. The morning of Dec. 3, Chris Alexander and I got into a taxi and headed to Battambang, my new home. Then on December 5, I began working with the girls at the Culinary Training Center.
Wow! It is hard to think a year has passed. There are days it feels like I have only been here weeks. Yet when I look at the change that has taken place, I think there is no way it all happened in just a year. Personally I have gained a lot more patience, and I think more often before speaking, rather than offering my opinions freely. Also I have learned to rely on God for strength, friendship, and guidance.
The CTC girls have changed, too, by developing self-esteem and having hope and plans for a better future. Their increased confidence has given them the ability to think for themselves. Seeing the changes in the girls is what keeps me here. Change is a powerful thing.
Over the last year I have been able to open a top ranked restaurant, help the girls' families when they have a need, which prevents bad decisions, and provide water filters for clean drinking water. Also continuing the Thanksgiving tradition of feeding the needy and providing the girls an opportunity to give back to their community, starting a second class of students, and seeing girls who come from Buddhist families search for the Truth and begin believing in Jesus are just a few of the many blessings of being here.
When I prepared to leave America and come to Cambodia, I said I would be back in two years. Over the past year God has clearly shown me there is more to be done. Now when people ask, "How long do you plan on being there?" I say I have no idea because I will stay until God says otherwise. This is hard to say and accept, because there are things I miss like people who matter to me, my car and taking long drives to the middle of nowhere, cooking whenever I’m in the mood, and worship with friends. Even though I miss things and people, the benefits of being here outweigh those things. Being able to experience the things I have, witness the transformations I've seen, and the power that God has is indescribable.
All I can say is THANK YOU for all God has done and for my supporters who have made this past year possible.
by Ryana DeArmond, CGI's Resident Culinary Training Center Chef
photos by Chris Alexander (new class) & Jocelyn Post
Posted By: cgiblog
december 13, 2012 12:31pm
A Good Problem
The Christmas season is full of opportunity for fellowship, celebration and reflection. We should take time to consider our accomplishments, failures and regrets. The CGI staff has taken the time to do all of these things. I recently had several events and I am nearly out of cgiDaughters product! As I shared this with Chris Alexander, he responded, "That’s a good problem to have." I think he is right. It means people are buying our product, and it means more work opportunities for our Cambodian friends. We are excited for 2013.
“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Jeremiah 29:11 MSG.
Thank you for your continued support of our organization!
PS - Coming SOON!
We will be introducing men’s bow ties, slender neckties, as well as a newly designed messenger bag. Also, new skirts, handbags and dresses! Stay tuned!
Posted By: cgiblog
december 07, 2012 08:57am
Selling to Avoid Selling
I enjoy selling byTavi and cgiDaughter products. I even like selling them more than buying them, although I'm fairly good at both. Ask my husband! He might say I'm better at buying. Soon almost everyone I know will be unwrapping a Green Mango Cafe & Bakery cookbook.
In the past few weeks, I've had the privilege of selling CGI cookbooks, scarves, purses, and ready wear at the International Conference on Missions, the Greenwood High School Craft Fair and Mount Pleasant Christian Church's women's Christmas Tea. In all these venues, the best part was sharing the CGI story--a story that makes a tangible difference in the lives of young women living in Cambodia.
For a moment, travel there with me. Consider the 17-year-old girl, abandoned by her mother, who lives with 19 other people, whose grandmother sells cakes to make hopefully $1.50 a day. Or the 22-year-old who lives in a karaoke bar with her widowed mother and younger sister. Or the one CGI staff found gathering trash so her family could eat. These aren't just needy women. They're desperate women.
CGI has already stepped out in faith to help them. Your purchase of scarves, bags, clothing, and cookbooks really helps. But the need is great, and time is short. We sell so these girls don't have to sell themselves. But there are other ways to help. For more details, contact Chris Alexander, email@example.com.
Engaging people to empower the poor--that's CGI's mission. May 2013 be a happier year for families who are desperate!
by Joyce Long
Posted By: cgiblog
november 30, 2012 08:16am
Two Different Worlds
Having a daughter was what got me. She’s only 2 years old—just a toddler with bright blonde hair and a great belly laugh—but becoming her mother unleashed a sense of fierce protectionism in me that I didn’t have before. I deliberate about the smallest details of her life: the foods she eats, the people she’s around, the school she attends, the bed she sleeps in. I want it all to be just right. Safe and comfortable, a good foundation for what I hope is a happy future.
I learned about CGI around the time she was born. My heart was ripe for understanding the sense of justice that fuels their mission to end poverty and protect young girls from the darkness of desperation. Mothers on the other side of the world face a different reality than I do. Poverty-stricken moms in Cambodia do not have the luxury of deliberating over which foods to feed their daughters or which school suits them best. They wonder if they can feed their children for another day, and instead of education, they need their daughters to generate income, sometimes in ways you and I cannot imagine. My judgment of moms who would consider selling their daughters into sexual slavery dissolved into heartache as I began to comprehend how a family gets to this place and this decision. Decisions that happen, as CGI’s founder explains, “when poverty and crisis collide.”
It changes the way I look at my own daughter. I still want a good life for her, of course, and never want her to face the depths of darkness that her sisters around the world too often face. But I want her to know them, know their stories and their names and know how to fight for them. I don’t want blissful ignorance for her. I want her to become a woman with an acute sense of love, mercy and justice for others that Jesus so clearly instructed us to carry forward.
“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.” Proverbs 24:12
CGI is acting in very practical ways. I’ve been so encouraged these past couple of years by how God is blessing CGI’s efforts in Cambodia and working through this organization to transform the lives of so many girls. It doesn’t just impact the lives of those being helped, but it truly changes the ones who are helping, too. I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to share the stories of CGI through social and print media outlets (be sure to read SOUTH magazine’s December coverage of CGI! - http://www.indysouthmag.com/) and my small part of involvement has certainly changed me.
It’s amazing seeing the time and gifts that are poured out from people who want to see an end to injustice. And even when it doesn’t feel like it, there will be an end. We are promised that; we can hang our hats on it. I saw a license plate on a recent road trip that said simply “GOD WINS.”
And he will.
by Caroline Mosey
photos: Barry Rodriguez / Caroline Mosey
Posted By: cgiblog
november 12, 2012 07:17pm
How Do You Eat?
In September I traveled to Bangkok to have my wisdom teeth checked. I ended up not having them removed, so I got to have a five day vacation. It was nice to be able to relax, have nothing planned, reply to all the emails, calls, and texts. Bangkok is totally different then Battambang. It reminds me of being in Chicago instead of Southeast Asia. I went to the movies and saw Argo (good movie). The theater was the nicest one I have ever been in, recliners as chairs, even speakers built into the seats. It was crazy. Many shops, malls, and Ikea. I even found an ice cream maker that I am very excited about. There were restaurants upon restaurants, anything from Outback to Burger King to noodles shops to Krispy Kreme and giant lattes on the street for $1. With being in a big city, there were plenty of fine dining restaurants. After a couple days, I could no longer resist the chef inside me. I was going to splurge and have a nice meal.
I ended up choosing an Italian place that made all fresh pastas and had a beautiful brick pizza oven. Carefully reading every dish on the menu to pick the perfect one twice, I gave into the Duck Confit Pasta with fresh black truffles. They brought out artisan breads, a nice veggie plate for starters, then the pasta. It was full of duck and truffles, I was shocked. Most places that use truffles only give you a thin slice or two, because of the cost. It was a wonderful meal. Yes, it was costly for what I am accustomed to now, but it was no where near the most costly meal I have eaten. Adding coffee and dessert from the street, my night out cost just under $20.
On my walk back to the hotel, I began thinking. Thinking about how I eat, how I choose what to eat, how I am able to buy what I want. The girls also came to mind because I guess I was missing them. That got me thinking about how they eat, how they choose what to eat? I eat for taste. If it doesn't taste good, I'm not eating it, even if it's cheap. As I talked to CGI's Cambodian director about her recent trip to America, one thing that stuck out in her mind was food and that eating isn't important to Americans. At first I didn't understand where she was coming from. I know Americans like to eat because they spend lots of money on food.
Then she explained, "Your people eat just to eat, some even eat in their cars. Here in Cambodia eating is an event." When Cambodians have a meal, they stop sit down with the whole family and friends, to eat and be with each other. No matter how big or small the meal is, it's more about sharing it with the people who are the closest to them.
Most meals here consist of lots of rice, soup or stir fry (on a good day). Soups are made with lots of water, a small amount of meat or bones, fish paste, a few vegetables and greens. With a few exceptions, I feel all the soups taste the same. I have seen a pot of soup feed nine people for just over a dollar. With that said, I feel it's safe to say Cambodians spent a good amount of their income on food.
During your next meal, think about why and how you eat. Do you eat because it's meal time or because you are hungry? When you eat, is it just to eat or is it to connect and share with one another? How would your meal times be different if you ate in a way to be in community with others? Would your food selection change if you were eating to survive?
by Ryana DeArmond
CGI's Culinary Training Center's Resident Chef
Posted By: cgiblog