This past summer, five Lee University students interned with People for Care and Learning in Cambodia alongside two Lee alums MacKenzie Kay Clinton and Kendall Jeter. The interns, Sarah Hayes, Hannah Hedgepath, Michala Jenkins, Christian Schweer, and Lauren Stoltzfus, stayed in Cambodia for 10 weeks.
The students spent the majority of their time at the Learning Center; at the PCL Management Institute, a two-year degree program in which students study how to teach English; and at the Children's Home. Each intern was partnered with a PCL lecturer and attended class with them in the mornings. The students watched, learned, and eventually helped teach classes.
“Living in Cambodia this summer was truly a life-changing experience,” said Ms. Stoltzfus. “I learned how to thrive in the unknown, conquer my fears, and depend on the Lord in everything. I formed amazing relationships with some of the people and kids there, and I gained a beautiful new family. Whether I was teaching English, painting a wall, giving a devotion, or dancing wildly with my Khmer brothers and sisters, I saw the Lord's goodness and faithfulness in everything.”
The Lee students also helped tutor the Children's Home youth in English, and in the evenings they hosted a Bible study and devotion for the children and PMI students. Every Sunday the Lee students went out to Takam village to share the gospel and lead youth group at PCL's church in Takam.
“The girls were a huge help to PCL, and they brought such a light to so many people here, including myself and our staff,” said Ms. Clinton. “They created relationships here that have truly made an impact on so many people, and I know that the seeds they have planted will go well beyond anything they could imagine.”
PCL and Lee University established a connection in 2009, when Dr. Guy DeLoach and Dr. Dewayne Thompson from Lee’s School of Business traveled to Cambodia on an exploratory trip to investigate a partnership with PCL. Drs. DeLoach and Thompson developed a concept for sustainable farming that resulted in the launching and development of the Integrated Farm in Cambodia’s Takam Village.
“During our visit, we were stunned by the poverty and the Tonle Sap Lake community in particular,” said Dr. Thompson, dean of the School of Business. “While I have traveled internationally before and seen destitute poverty, I had never witnessed poverty at this level. We learned that Cambodia was a center for sex trafficking where girls as young as six years old were taken and prostituted and many sent to developed nations such as the United States. We both were so moved by this that we decided we had to do something.”
Along with several students and the PCL leadership, Drs. DeLoach and Thompson studied the situation for a few months before taking action. They established a farm where indigenous people were hired, stocked a lake with tilapia, planted various vegetables and fruit trees for sustainability and sale to the city, built multiple homes for widows and families in several villages, and built wells and village restroom facilities for land mine victims.
After the Integrated Farm was established, a number of Lee students, some School of Business and others from various disciplines, traveled to Cambodia as interns. Some students stayed for three weeks and some for a year or more.
“Over the years, Lee University students have found a place to serve and influence the work of People for Care and Learning in Cambodia,” said Travis Johnson, executive director of PCL.
Lee has partnered with the PCL’s fundraiser, “Buy a Tree. Change a Life,” to raise money to support the activities in Cambodia. To contribute, visit http://buyatreechangealife.com/.
“This new partnership between ‘Buy a Tree. Change a Life.’ and Lee will enable us to invest in the training of the next generation of leaders coming out of Lee,” said Mr. Johnson. “These leaders will shape the work of PCL by helping children in some of the most difficult places in the world.”
PCL is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that combines training opportunities to create a holistic, systematic approach to break the cycle of poverty. PCL focuses and operates in five main project areas: Build a City, Sustainable Farming, Common Grounds, Learning Centers, and Children’s Homes.
For more information about PCL, visit https://www.pcl.is/.
Pictured here from left to right are Lee student interns Lauren Stoltzfus, Michala Jenkins, Christian Schweer, Hannah Hedgepeth, Sarah Hayes, and Jasmine Ngo, along with Lee alumni Kendall Jeter and MacKenzie Clinton. (2) A group of children from the Takam village. (3) Lee student Lauren Stoltzfus holds one of the schoolchildren.