Activity in Cambodia | Non-Profit Organization Touch In Peace

touch in pease


Activity in Cambodia

Touch In Peace travels regularly to Cambodia to work with an organization called the NHCC (New Hope for Cambodian Children), an orphanage just outside of Phnom Penh for children born with HIV. Our goal is to bring healing touch via massage to the 250 or so children who live there. Our efforts in bridging our work to this community have been established since 2010 and the relationship we have established with the community has developed into a mutually beneficial arrangement where the staff cares for us as we care for the children who the TIP volunteers have come to know personally. The regular volunteers have watched the children grow and flourish over multiple visits.

Our contacts in the village are John and Cathy Tucker, whose dedication to improving the condition of the world’s disadvantaged children has made the NHCC possible. Over the period of 8 years the village has transformed from its humble origins of a few huts to a large compound of many houses for the children with a clinic, classrooms, quarters for volunteers, and multiple sustainable projects such as farming and livestock for food and income. In addition to the orphanage outside of Phnom Penh, there are other projects up and running under the NHCC organization, such as the orphanage at Sihanoukville. Working with the children is incredibly rewarding for all those involved. Separated from their parents due to an infectious virus, and delivered into the midst of many others in the same situation, the children at the NHCC sometimes feel the want of physical contact and the comfort that comes from compassionate touch. We provide this in a safe and professional environment so that the children can have their needs met in a non-threatening manner. The children have been transformed over the years of contact with Touch In Peace. We have been steadily building relationships over a period of years, witnessing these children grow and flourish, and developing an awareness of the importance of caring contact amongst them.

Touch In Peace originally partnered at the NHCC with another massage program called Buds to Blossoms, founded by Les May of the USA. After coordinating with Buds to Blossoms for a period of three years, Touch In Peace began to work independently to develop the massage program at the NHCC, implementing specific methods for outreach in the village learned from their prior experience there. We found that incorporating a number of organizational approaches are necessary to ensure that our goal to make contact with every child, even the shy and isolated ones, is realized. Our visits to the NHCC have been made regular at a period of every three months, where we stay at the village for at least a week at a time. Whereas we used to move between the clusters where the children live (usually divided by age and gender), now we incorporate volunteers who help us bring the children to our work area near the volunteer center. In addition to this we have begun documenting our work with photographs, where the child writes their name and age, and in taking notes on each child so that we can keep track of our outreach efforts by tallying the number of children we have worked with and can ensure that we touch as many as possible, in addition to following the conditions of each child throughout the visit. The advantages of using our methods of documentation are not only that we can figure out which children are most receptive to our work by seeing who shows up most regularly, but also that we have been able to learn the names of the many children in the village, even the ones who only show up once, to further develop our sense of integration in to the community.

As an example of what is occurring now in our visits at the NHCC, consider one of Touch In Peace’s most recent trips there. In July 2014 a group of 6 volunteers, 4 from Japan and 2 from the USA, went to the village for a period of 6 days. The daily schedule was to rise at 6, give treatments from 8am to 11am, lunch and rest, and then a second session of work from 2 to 5pm. In this time the 5 practitioners worked on one child at a time, while one volunteer focused on photographic documentation and rounding up as of yet untouched children from different areas of the village. Occasionally one or more of the volunteers would accompany the caretakers to the market in the early morning to assist in gathering and transporting the voluminous daily food needs of the village. We averaged about 60 massages per day, and touched about 220 of the 250 children of the village in addition to many of the staff there (there were many repeats throughout the week). We met every evening to look over our notes together: discussing and tracking the specific cases that were presented that day, as well as our own thoughts and feelings. At the end of the week we joined the weekly dance festival at the village and shared in the joy of being there with the children. We left closer to the children than we had ever been before, and the farewells were heartfelt.

Our ongoing mission with the children of the NHCC is to bring compassionate touch to all the children of the village on a regular basis. Recent organizational changes and methods of documentation that respects the privacy of the children while allowing the volunteers to better recognize them have made our goal more a reality than ever. The joy we feel in being able to give to the children while being honored guests in their home is very rewarding.