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Ratanak International
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Ratanak International is a Christian organization that works collaboratively to be a catalyst for transformation in Cambodia through a focus on empowering exploited people and addressing the systems that exploit them.
Ratanak International is a Christian organization that works collaboratively to be a catalyst for transformation in Cambodia through a focus on empowering exploited people and addressing the systems that exploit them.

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An interesting, if disturbing, article about the consequences of ‘voluntourism’ etc.

While many orphanages are well-intentioned, sadly there are some organizations and individuals in Cambodia (and around the world) that are taking advantage of well-meaning hearts to extort money through the exploitation of children in orphanages. Brian McConaghy, Ratanak’s Founding Director and ex- member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has been monitoring and cautioning Canadians on such activities for years. But there is another problem – the orphanage model itself. Orphanages should only be a short-term solution for a society in crisis resulting from war, famine and such disasters. As soon as the crisis is over and a society starts to recover, our efforts need to be focused on rebuilding those normal social structures that care for both children and families. The international research is clear: institutionalisation in an orphanage setting is damaging for children. Have you noticed, there are no orphanages, as such, in Canada, the UK and other developed countries? There is a reason for that. There is a place for emergency care and group homes but long-term dependence on the orphanage model is problematic on many levels.

The Cambodian government has identified this and is working hard to prioritize the building of normal community and social structures and deemphasize the orphanage. The Cambodian Government position is to be celebrated and supported. Reintegration, family support, community stability and trafficking prevention, all mentioned in the article, are vital services needed to rebuild the healthy structures of society and are all services in which Ratanak is active. We believe collaboration is key in creating sustainable impact. Our projects are frequently in partnership with the government and other organizations, aimed at reaching the individual and beyond to the family and their community to transform lives. It’s an exciting process! While the article below is not a joyous read, we can take encouragement in the fact that there are many in Australia (and others in the West) who love and want to support Cambodia. However anyone working cross- culturally needs to be constantly teachable, humble and respectful regarding their host country and, in our case, working to address Cambodian needs in the best way possible. By definition, this means placing Cambodia’s needs over our own emotional wants. Sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? But think about it: what charities and ministries do we all gravitate towards – the emotive ones, right? Yes, me too. But as Christians, we need to be servants putting ourselves aside and really serving. At Ratanak, we work hard to do that! Thanks for your continued support of Ratanak in the exciting and emotional programs. But thank you even more as you continue to support us in some of those less “exciting” programs that efficiently change lives, and quietly bring hope. We appreciate your maturity and servant heartedness more than you know.
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Earlier this week, the US Department of State released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report- an assessment of how each country is confronting human trafficking. In light of this, we wanted to share with you the following article which gives an interesting take on the economy of human trafficking and at the underlying reasons that fuel the trade.
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"If we truly want to end human trafficking, we can’t treat it as if it were an isolated issue without looking more deeply at its causal factors."

By improving access to education, providing medical aid, or even being informed consumers, we can significantly lower the risk factors that push a child, young women or young man into desperation and situations of entrapment. #humantrafficking  is more than one issue. It's part of an ongoing cycle of poverty, vulnerability and exploitation.

#Breakthecycle  
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A snapshot into life under the Khmer Rouge. 
Every day people from all over Cambodia still arrive here carrying the hope of tracing their relatives. Please continue to pray for this nation.

#KhmerRouge   #Cambodia  
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"Under Pol Pot’s savage regime, all educated citizens — teachers, doctors, musicians, artists, intellectuals, were to be interrogated, tortured and killed, and until her name was given up, she had been able to hide her profession during questioning.

My grandmother sobbed, pleading to take her daughter’s place. But the soldier didn’t want an illiterate old woman. Pol Pot’s orders were to eliminate the educated."

The article below was written by a woman who lived through the Killing Fields with her family. Today, she is an acclaimed surgeon! It is an inspiring story of survival, faith, and perseverance.
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“The community centre is the place where I came to know the Lord. It is where I can learn English, and more about the love of Christ. I learned about God’s love for me, and how I can love others. The community centre is where I feel loved.” – Kiri, 13 years old 
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Our Ratanak Achievement Program (RAP) Director and two of our social workers are currently in one of the provinces doing a family assessment for a potential client who will be coming to stay at the RAP home in the next few days. Please pray for all the meetings they will have with the local authorities and the client's family. Pray especially for this young woman as she bravely embarks on the next step of her healing journey.
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May 1, 1990 – The beginnings of what would eventually become Ratanak International. Brian takes another leap of faith and relinquishes his passport to the Cambodian embassy. Thankfully, he gets it back – stamped, with a visa, and ready to go!

"May 1st. Vientiane.
On the plane now – some sort of Soviet thing…
In Vientiane, Laos now – trouble with Cambodian visas. Cambodian embassy took my passport – told I’d get it back at 7:30PM. Hope so. Ate at a riverside restaurant on the shores of the Mekong, Ancient old US army trucks parked outside, 1960s Rolling Stones playing. This place is like stepping back in time – a VN movie set. Locals want me to dance – me dance! Women EXTREMELY friendly… EXTREMELY friendly and a bit drunk. I’ll stick to Fanta. One yells over the music 'I like you very a lot'. Ok I think it is time to evacuate…
Return to Cambodian embassy. This time not so friendly, lots of demands for information… groveling and scraping in order. Official goes on at great length about how unusual it is to get such a special visa. “Yes, Thank you, thank you so very much…” then I realize he hasn’t signed anything yet! More groveling. Eventually a signature. Many bows and many thanks while retreating from the building.
Will get picked up for the airport at 4:15AM – now sleep."
- Brian McConaghy, excerpts from his diary

‪#‎Ratanak25‬
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2015-05-01
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Excerpt from Brian McConaghy's diary, April 30, 1990, just days before he enters into Cambodia for the first time:

"In Bangkok, the day before leaving for Laos – need to get to one of the rare Cambodian embassies in the hopes of getting a visa.
“Re packed. Got all the stuff into the one small carry-on bag allowed. I’m finding it very hard to believe I’m going to Laos tomorrow and even harder to take in… Cambodia!

Who knows how on earth I got here. Sometimes it really hits… 'Where are you Brian'. So here I sit on my bed contemplating tomorrow. Very unreal, very exciting."

‪#‎Ratanak25‬
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We're going back to the beginning! In celebration of Ratanak's official birthday on May 1, we'll be posting extracts from the diary of Brian McConaghy, Founder and Executive Director of Ratanak International. Stay tuned for a glimpse into the start of Ratanak!

We’ll start with his visit to a Khmer Rouge controlled refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border on April 22, 1990- just days before he left for Cambodia proper.

“Off to Site 8 [Khmer Rouge controlled camp], picked up radios. I’m 'Zulu 5' for the day. 
Very conscious that Khmer Rouge would be watching so took no photos of KR troops. Many KR soldiers in Chinese greens – off duty. I got many stares – not a nice feeling. Many men with legs and feet missing. [In bamboo workshops hang the casts of huge numbers of amputee’s stumps awaiting production of home made prosthetic limbs] What an oppressive place this is. People quick to smile, comfortable if in really close (private) quarters but as soon as you move away, where others can observe, the coldness sets in. They don’t even look at you – it’s like you are not even there – very oppressive. Went up to the area people flee when shelled… VERY conscious of land mines – didn’t enjoy the experience. Loud explosion very close, easily within 300 meters – don’t know what. (Told later it was a land mine.) Camera in one hand radio in the other we run back to the truck – gets the heart rate up! Radio - 'UNBRO HQ. Site 8, Situation One.' [This is a pre-evacuation assembly notification.] We 'copy'… and return to hospital for possible evacuation.”
‪#‎Ratanak25‬
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2015-04-29
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