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DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted:When I was in Cambodia last month my husband (! still getting used to that) and I thought that we would see if we could visit some of the orphanages in Siem Reap to see if there was anything that we could do to help them.
Having donated blood at the Angkor Children's Hospital (not sure the National Blood Service will ever let me give blood in the UK again) we found the details of one orphanages who may have appreciate some help. So we went along to visit. Wanted to share the experience to see if anyone had any thoughts...

All we knew when we left Siem Reap was that this was a big orphanages with less money than some of the others.

We left in a tuk tuk. Down a dusty dirt track road some way south of Siem Reap lies Wat Preah Yesu. Run by Seventh Day Adventists.

They take in children that are identified by the hosptial, local 7th Day churches, or community leaders, who are in need of help. Some are orphans, others have parents with AIDs or HIV, some are positive themselves, or disabled in some way, some have been neglected by their parents, or have parents who cannot for whatever reason look after them.
They are put into houses with a married couple - 8 houses in total each with about 16 children - who are Christian. They have a church and a school. They study Khmer, English, the usual classes they'd have in their local schools, plus bible studies. After 15 or so they conduct all lessons in English and Khmer is studied as an extra language. Some children come from the local villages to study there, and some board, who are not part of the orphanage itself.

Church is every Sunday, almost all attend but they are "not forced to". They have marriages and funerals in the church. We were told that they have elements of traditional ways of conducting these, but that they "improve upon them" - for example, they felt that the funerals were influenced by animism, which they disagreed with. They also felt that the marriage ceremony needed to be changed so that both parties seem more "equal". The guy who runs the place (from Australia originally) felt that Buddism does not offer a good moral basis for the children and that christianity offered them a more sound moral upbringing. The orphanage also does lay training and "church planting" around the local community.

When they reach 18, the children chose whether to stay in the orphanage, or move into the community. It seems that many chose to stay - after all I cannot see that they've had much contact with the local community, so perhaps this influences their choice to stay.

So, I was left with an odd feeling...on the one hand these children are getting opportunities that they would not have without this place, they have done an amazing job there, and many children may not even be alive if it wasn't for them. But on the other hand, they seem to remove the children from their community and do not work to keep them integrated with the "outside world" (another orphanagem the Sangheum Centre we visited kept the children in their local schools and acted more as a home that also provided extra lessons in English, dancing etc). I was very very concerned that they seemed to believe that Buddism was not a good grounding for the children, and were activily converting them and the local area to Christianity.

Any thoughts?


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted:No? No-one interested in picking up this thread? Just me?
Oh well. Off to have another row with myself then.... soapbox mad2 umm spank footinmouth


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


sassy
sassy

My mother advises not to stand on the dryer whilst drunk
Location: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA
Member Since: 11th Nov 2006
Total posts: 43
Posted:Stuff like this makes me anger.
I mean, I'm not oblivious to the fact that these religious organizations are providing a better world to the disadvantaged, or unfortunate (or whatever politically correct term is in)-but I don't believe that charity should ever work in this fashion.
In my perception it's "this for that", give up your culture for ours, and will reward you.
I understand that alot of religions have a duty/vocation to bring/show their enlightenment to the masses (not trying to be utterly cynical here)-but whatever happen to living by example (this is my own perception).
Honestly, I'm more curious by the ideals that drive a charitable stranger to completely (and unnescessarily) compassionate to me, than those blatantly shoved in my face. *And believe me this is from years of experience of not being on the brighter side of life*

...Am I ranting....?

.....it just doesn't feel right to me, but it is relieving to me to see there are other organizations out there like Sangheum Centre-that you speak....write of...



Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:What's wrong with being a christian missionary ? some of my best friends are christian missionaries.

Let me start by saying I was raised in a strict liberal fundamentalist household, and some of my attitude towards christian missionaries have been shaped by that upbringing, and I might add, some of my stereotypical views on the missionaries have been shaped by the media.

But I'd like to get all anecdotal, and tell of my actual experiences with " these people" and their machinations in developing nations ( Honduras, Nicaragua ) The first ones I met, I managed to spend a whole day with before they finally came out of the closet and admitted their missionarieness. I felt cheated, sort of. I thought they were "good people" but this admission had shaken me to the core. O decided to protect myself and brought out my crystal, to realign my chakras ( surely they must be damaged ) and prepared a lecture on the crusades.

Upon meeting them the next day, I was fully prepared to defend myself from the conversions that were sure to come. You know what ? They never did, and only expanded on the role of religion on the good works they were doing when ASKED ! It was kinda like, like ,like conversion wasn't the general idea.

The second time, I decided to step right into the "pit", so to speak. I took a jesuit priest up on his offer of accommodation in a household consisting of third year university jesuit university students. My main motive for accepting the offer was curiosity. What could happen ? I had the inner strength to resist , and I reviewed my notes on evolution, just in case they tried any of that creationist stuff.

Turns out, I didn't need those either. There was no spontaneous stigmata, no speaking in tongues, in fact there was very little religious banter at all. What ? I found myself thinking, these are regular people, just like you and me. They just happen to be devoted to making life better for the disadvantaged, unlike me, who was merely hanging around just to gawk. I was humbled, and tried to bolster my ego by listing hippy liberal organisations that are doing the same things, I failed though, as I could only identify one grassroots organisation that was doing work on this level.

It's really not their fault, their religion tells them to go out and do these good things, and, if required, spiritual guidance. I exercise tolerance and compassion when I think of christian missionaries, now and in the future.



DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted:Stout, I'm not sure that I disagree with you. But this wasn't my point. I have little problem with people driven by their faith to spread the word. However, in this case, vulnerable people are being indoctrinated, removed out of their own culture, and told that the traditional religion and beliefs of their country and immoral - and they have no choice but to listen and take part in this as they are children and without this help they have nowhere to go.

My problem is not that this is an orphanage run by christians. I am concerned because I believe that there is no need to remove a child from their community, and I would be happier if they were not told that Buddhism and their traditions are morally useless to them.


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


Birgit
Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 27th Jan 2005
Total posts: 4145
Posted:I don't know much about Buddhism or about that special type of Adventist church, so bear in mind that all I'm saying here is from what information you give, feel free to correct me if I make wrong assumptions smile

I don't agree that they're "removing" the children from the community - they take care of children that the community can't, or won't, look after. Would you rather a kid was neglected, as you write, within a Buddhist family? To me, giving children love, education, food etc by far outweighs your concerns.

True, many of them will choose to stay within a community that has helped them grow into the person they have become by 18. But if they are happy there, why not! I think it's natural to want to give something back to people who've raised you and helped you out. And if they stay to look after more children, they're the ideal people: they know what the kids feel like, what they need and miss most.

And to be honest, I'm quite impressed that they seem to modify ceremonies instead of just replacing them with a Christian one without any links to the local traditions. As for things like a marriage ceremony in which both sides seem more equal, that sounds like a good idea.


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half


Rouge Dragon
Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 13215
Posted:I disagree with telling children their traditional religion is evil. Actually, I disagree with any religion telling people that any other religion is evil, cos I believe that the religions that point the finger are actually the evil ones...ok, tangent....

I think it sounds like a wonderful thing to give these children what sounds like a great education, but education in un-traditional values at not only the expense of traditional education, but to its detriment, I don't agree with. And I actually think that that kind of education is not only detrimental to the child, but to the country and the world as a whole, because it creates rifts.


i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

Rougie: but that's what I'm doing here
Arnwyn: what letting me adjust myself in your room?..don't you dare quote that on HoP...


DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted:Brigit, you sum up my dilemma really well. I agree with Rouge Dragon: I think that what they are doing is fundamentally wrong with regards to telling children that their traditional religion and way of life is immoral. I also think that they could do more to integrate the children they care for into the communities around them, as the other children's home do. However, I also agree with you, Brigit, that they are doing a great job looking after children who, without them, would have nothing.

Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:Dr.Boo, I understand your point about the missionaries interfering with the spiritual development of the Cambodians. I just don't think it's really that big of a deal. Cambodia hasn't fared well under Buddhism ( yes, I've been there ) neither has Myanmar and I'm thinking that maybe this whole traditional Buddhist thing is overrated.

A shot of Jesus might just actually be good for Cambodians.



DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted:Stout. Good grief. Do you really think that?

What is it about Christianity that you feel would benefit the people of Cambodia and the surrounding countries?

No, Cambodia hasn't fared all that well, but Buddhism had nothing to do with that. Try communism, and more importantly, America. Cambodia was caught between expansionist neighbours, European colonial interests, and the agendas of Cold War superpowers. Together, these influenced the rise of the "Khmer Rouge". Not Buddhism. In fact, under Pol Pot, The Buddhist clergy was nearly annihilated, and the practice of any religion was forbidden.

Because of destruction of religion during the Khmer Rouge period, at the moment, Buddhist institutions are quite weak in the country. However wats have traditionally been central in schooling, moral education, advice and decisions regarding local communities and conflict resolution. Buddhism is the only institution that cuts across all political and social divisions in Cambodia. And it is deeply connected to Khmer national identity. Abandonment of Buddhism is often seen as abandonment of Khmer identity.

Khmer-Buddhism includes traditional ideas that historically have been part of Khmer culture, including ideas about ethical governance, peace, forgiveness and justice.

Trying to go into a country like Cambodia, when it is still getting back on its feet, and trying to convert the people to a religion that would, in effect, cause them to abandon a large portion of their heritage and identity is only likely to cause conflict and further destablize the area.

I'm not even going to go down the line of considering the damage that people have inflicted upon our world under the guise of Christianity, because I think that it is a gross misjudgement to claim that one religion is better than another, as Rouge Dragon said. So I am not saying that Buddhism is better than Christianity, but I am certainly not saying the reverse is the case, as this orphanage is doing, as I believe that to be horrendously arrogant.


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


Birgit
Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 27th Jan 2005
Total posts: 4145
Posted:From my pov, the orphanage is exactly NOT doing that. They wouldn't integrate traditional rituals in their ceremonies if they thought they were "evil" as Rouge says.

But every person that is part of a single religion obviously considers that to be the one to believe in. From a Christian point of view, salvation lies in believing in God and Jesus and accepting Jesus' death on the cross for your sins to be forgiven. So if they raised the kids to be Buddhists, that would mean to deny them their chance of eternal life.

Which means that, as a missionary, you're in a big dilemma, too, if you want to 1. look after the children, 2. raise them close to their traditional cultural identity, and 3. give them the chance to decide to accept Christianity and eternal life. The latter is obviously a main concern for a missionary, and the inclusion of Khmer traditions, as far as they do not oppose main points of the Christian belief, is a sign that they're trying hard.

To say a Christian organisation should put money, effort and love into another country's children but keep their religion to themselves is horrendously arrogant, too, I think.

By the way, I'm sick of referring to whatever people did/do to the world "under the guise of Christianity". Do you compare raising orphans "under the guise of christianity" to crusades or pogromes? Or do you think the Adventists want to take over Cambodia? If people use an idea for doing bad things, that doesn't make the idea, and the good others are trying to do in its name, bad.

If, in a country that's still recovering, a handful of children are taught that it's good to love each other, forgive each other and be respectful to each other, do you really think that's that harmful? And if weddings are arranged so that the wife has a more equal status, isn't that equal status of the woman one of the main points missing in most developmental and third world countries?

I think it would be most sensible to look at the orphans when they're about 25 or 30, and see what they've done with their lives and what they think about their schooling in retrospect smile


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half


Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:Do I think that? yea, well maybe, I certainly said it, and I'm not adverse to being wrong about Buddhism. Do I believe it..no, not really considering I don't really have enough information to be able to defend a statement like the one I made.

For the record, I'm an atheist, but I'm not blind to the good works that Christian's are doing all over the world and I'm not ready to condemn them solely on the idea that they're "arrogant" in promoting their beliefs in conjunction with all that good stuff.

In an ideal world, these children would be looked after by Buddhists, and raised by Buddhists, as Buddhists, but we're a long way from that ideal world, and until Buddhist charities step in and fill the void, so to speak, I can't fault the missionaries.

Nor can I see any advantage of trying to create a religiously homogeneous culture,,you know value diversity and all that. I do believe, however, that Cambodians are capable of making up their own minds when it comes to spirituality, and I'm not up for discounting the possibility that a given Cambodian may lead a fulfilling life regardless of Christianity, Buddhism, or even Atheism.

Just how many orphanages like this are there? Are they really trying to convert the entire country ? How many Khymer-rouge soldiers were, themselves, Buddhists ? How do the ideas of Buddhism conflict with the ideals of Christianity ? Seems to me that ethical governance, peace, forgiveness, and justice could be touted as Christian values too, or even Atheist values.



DrBoo
DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 10th Oct 2005
Total posts: 453
Posted: Written by: Birgit


By the way, I'm sick of referring to whatever people did/do to the world "under the guise of Christianity". Do you compare raising orphans "under the guise of christianity" to crusades or pogromes? Or do you think the Adventists want to take over Cambodia?



Brigit, my statement regarding "under the guise of Christianity" was a response to Stout's claim that, basically, Buddhism was not helping Cambodia, and perhaps Christianity would be a better religious choice for that country.
I am not saying that the orphanage is evil, wrong, or in any way comparable to the crusades or porgomes.


 Written by: Birgit

To say a Christian organisation should put money, effort and love into another country's children but keep their religion to themselves is horrendously arrogant, too, I think.



Hmm, I don't think so. Just to the extent that what I consider is wrong is to tell children that Buddhism is wrong and not a good moral basis, and I think that if "keeping their religion to themselves" means not saying that then, yes, I do think they could keep it to themselves.
They could simply tell the children what their religion is, explain why it is different to Buddhism - without saying that one religion is more or less evil or bad - and give the kids a choice as they grow up.

But I do still have a dilemma with this one, and although I may sound adamently against the orphanage, I really am not. I think they are doing an amazing job.
smile


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?


BansheeCat
veteran
Location: lost
Member Since: 29th Jul 2005
Total posts: 1247
Posted:The degree that their observation that buddhism is not providing a moral foundation is correct is the the same as what we now see in the west, in predominantly Christian areas-- the degradation of a moral foundation as evidenced by the crimes we see, the lack of charity , lack of involvement in the Christian community etc etc...

I don't think the problem is the religion selected, it is whether you actively and communally follow the path shown by it, within a society. So yeah, maybe Cambodia lacks a moral sturcture right now. I would not know, personally. But the observation may be correct. But I doubt it has much to do with the nature of buddhism itself.

Am I making any sense?


So, A fundementally buddhist organization could also set up an orphanage with a strong moral foundation-- after all right speak, right thought, right action is a pretty clear focus of buddhism...

But, If you are a Christian, what you are going to know how to do, and be motivated to do, is operate under your own value system, not anothers.Even when you are in their country.

Now, maybe we could get people collaborating on efforts, a mixed religious environment, so the moral care is broader and not isolating. But I am sure , in Cambodia, a buddhist group could raise funds and set up an orphanage all on their own. One must consider why they are not, or rather-- if they are?

After the tsunami, I was going relief work in Thailand. I have always been kind of grossed out by missionary Christians, so very cautious when I realized how many of the NGOs I was working with were Christian based. Then, after a while, I thought, wow, so many of these workers are Christian, and have gone way, way, out of their way to help. Amazing. I found new respect for the whole Christian faith, and profound respect for the sacrifices they made, the compassion, and phenomenal organization, shown.

In the end, I think I am just glad they were there, and did what they did. I did not see indoctrination, even within the childrens orphanages. I did not have to deal with anyone saying buddism was bad though, I think I would have to challenge that perspective, and see if we could find a more culturally supportive approach.

Certainly, in Canada, we have seent he horrendously damaging effeects of missionaries on our aboriginal population. Christian schools that denied people their language, their culture, had hidden layers of abuse... we see the harm even generations later. So that is a cautionary tale, and something we should be aware of, and not repeat!!!

Many of the Christian organizations doing good work were aware of this history, and had a range of rules in place to make sure they repected the culture they were within . Perhaps this orphanage needs to work on that, perhaps you can give them some suggestions of ways to do so, are they open to dialogue?


"God *was* my co-pilot, but then we crashed, and I had to eat him..."


sassy
sassy

My mother advises not to stand on the dryer whilst drunk
Location: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA
Member Since: 11th Nov 2006
Total posts: 43
Posted: Written by: Brigit


To say a Christian organisation should put money, effort and love into another country's children but keep their religion to themselves is horrendously arrogant, too, I think.




 Written by: sassy


In my perception it's "this for that"




I guess I'm arrogant. And in this facet, that's alright with me.

 Written by: DrBoo


They could simply tell the children what their religion is, explain why it is different to Buddhism - without saying that one religion is more or less evil or bad - and give the kids a choice as they grow up.




ditto
Completely agree.
I've never felt that christainity or any religion is evil. Or for that fact that missionairies are evil-it's all in the methodology. Faith is a remarkably beautiful thing, in pov.

I'm proably biased because of the same cautionary tales BansheeCat states. In Canada, so much was lost due to the "sixities scoop" (where many natives were taken from their communities and placed in christian orphanages&schools). Entire first nations have lost their mother tongues, their traditions, their entire culture, due to social engineering. Because someone felt they knew what would be better for them.

This especially came to mind from this statement
 Written by: DrBoo


After 15 or so they conduct all lessons in English and Khmer is studied as an extra language.




I'm very curious to know why these adventist orphanages create such a divide between the children & their native culture. Do they genuinely feel that Cambodian culture is a threat to the child's salvation?
Or is there more logical reasoning behind it all (which I only hope)?



Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:Well said BansheeCat. clap



And I might add it's their value system that's led them to be over there doing what they're doing. That's what's led me to question the scarcity of secular groups providing the same services, and what's led me to question my own value system in comparison.



I'm hoping the Christians learned their lessons with the Aboriginal debacle over here, and that sort of indoctrination I've come to consider as old school religion. The Canadian situation is/was technically different from what we're discussing here, and caused me to spend alot of years as an anti-Christian. Experience has softened my outlook over time. smile



sassy....They're probably teaching English because....well....no one else speaks Khymer. Ask any Dutch person about the necessity of a second language By 15 they'll have enough of a grasp of the language to keep the culture alive, but in order for Cambodia/ans to communicate and do business both inside and outside of Cambodia, they'll have to use something other than Khymer.



The area around Siem Reap/ Angkor Wat is rapidly expanding due to foreign tourism, really it's the only game in town at this point, and if you communicate with the tourists, you'll be a far more desirable service provider, .



I wouldn't doubt that there's a German group doing the same thing, which will give the orphand the advantage of being able to do business in German.



Cambodia wants to be part of the global village too. peace



FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:what you can do in your neighborhood

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink



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