Cambodia (MNN) — When HIV/AIDS hits, it's the end of "life as usual" for families in rural Cambodia.
Because of the mistaken belief that simply being near an infected person can cause contamination, many families face rejection. But there is a place to turn, thanks to Jumpah, a partner ministry of Bright Hope International.
Jumpah provides a community of homes where families take refuge. The ministry assists people in three areas. The Place of Peace houses and supports at
least 16 families in which one or both of the parents are dying from HIV/AIDS. From there, the children are taken care of and promised a home at Garden of Joy. It's a home where orphans can stay until they are either taken in by another family member or ready to live on their own. Children are also enrolled in government schools where they have the invaluable opportunity to learn to read and write.
This ministry has a powerful witness for Christ. President of Bright Hope International Craig Dyer says, "When you're in this situation as
families are, you're concerned about your kids. Here are these loving people coming alongside saying 'There's a loving God who cares about your life now and for eternity, and He cares about your children. When you pass away, we're going to take your children in.'"
In addition, Jumpah does community development projects in the areas of health, literacy, agriculture, and home care for other families living with HIV/AIDS.
Part of the ministry to parents is an opportunity for them to keep providing for their family as long as they are able. They do this by teaching parents how to craft a nativity set which they sell. It is available on Bright Hope's online store for about $22USD.
Dyer says the craft is simple, "but it's most meaningful, knowing that a family has been cared for. They're providing for themselves, and [others have] an opportunity to minister to them and encourage them in their walk with the Lord, in their journey towards eternity."
Despite the economic gains Cambodia has made after three decades of war, genocide and destruction, rural areas are still waiting to see the changes. Urban workers can make $50USD per month, whereas in rural areas people are often living on less than 50 cents a day. Jumpah and Bright Hope's partnership in this rural community are a stepping stone to see education and compassionate care transform a community socially and spiritually.