Wow. I meant to do so many things with this blog. There were going to be weekly posts from me, weekly (or even daily) posts from the students and staff, and even videos and online lessons! But now, over one month after the workshop has ended, I’m writing my first real post about it.
So what happened?
This workshop was really hard. Rotha and I, with help from Rotha’s family and a few life-saving volunteers, supervised eight students, day and night, for four weeks. We exercised together, worshiped together, ate together, studied together, worked together, traveled together, and slept together. It was a little bit of the ideal community I’ve been hoping for, and a lot of the work volume I’ve felt I should have, but rarely do. It was a glorious month that I’m still recovering from, but that also I hope leads to more months like it.
Beyond the wildness of it, it had effect. It changed three things: a group of students, my future vision, and ASAP Ministries’ position to make an impact.
It affected eight students
Our workshop participants consisted of eight mostly high-school-level students from the Cambodian Adventist Vietnamese School (CAVS, also known as a Feed and Read School) that ASAP MInistries supports. They are all getting to the age where they feel pressure from their families to work, and without a good outlook for high school, that’s what some of them just might do instead of finishing their studies. (In fact, since the workshop has ended, two have already stopped studying. We’re trying to work out a solution.)
The students studied 3D design and powder coating. By the end of it, students were able to design a room and many items like bowls, calculators, and tables that they could put in the room. They could also take a piece of raw metal and sand it, clean it, and powder coat it, all largely without defect. We gave each of them two certificates.
But beyond the vocational skills, we studied the Bible and led out in two church worship services during the month. We found out early on that our students had been studying the Bible at CAVS, and nearly all of them wanted to be baptized! So, with help from missionary trainers, we focused on maintaining a consistent relationship with God and learned some key techniques on how to study the Bible.
We need you to pray for these students.
Now I see more clearly
Conducting this program gave me a glimpse into the interest of the local church in this sort of project; people are interested.
At the beginning, we had meant to spend a lot of time promoting and recruiting. We printed some small flyers in Khmer and English, and were going to spend a day passing them out.
But our first stop changed that. Pastor Khanh, the leader of CAVS, was our first stop. We had spoken with him before about vocational training, and he was always very interested. After sitting down for only five minutes, he was already sure he could find more than would fit in our self-imposed eight-student limit. He told us he would get back to us in a week with all of the students finalized. And he did!
This was great for us, since the workshop was starting in only two weeks. We had a lot to get done in that time, and by taking care of our recruiting for us, he did us a huge favor.
ASAP has the resources to change things
This workshop was expensive. Not only did we provide food and lodging for each of the students for the month, but we also bought all of our equipment, including: eight computers, a car, a new engine for the car after the first one broke, powder coating equipment, metal working equipment, materials to build three triple bunk beds, and all of the little things that you never expect, but obviously need, when you’re living altogether in one house.
However, because of those purchases, future workshops will not have to be expensive. Between 14 of us, we ate on $10 dollars a day for most of the month. With the occasional big bag of rice factored in, that comes out to about $30 per student, for the month. Rent for the entire workshop, including living quarters and workspace, was about $270 with utilities. That comes out to just over $30 per student, for the entire month.
So, not including the salaries of teachers and support staff, and not including other miscellaneous expenses, we are now set up to send a single student through one month of training for roughly $60.
We haven’t started another session yet–we want to get a smoother system in place first–but if you’d like to talk about how you can help a teenage student get a certificate in powder coating at some point, let me know. Or, if you’d rather just act, go to the Rescue an Older Feed and Read Student gift, type in $60, and add it to your cart.
Then check out.
I may not be posting so much about this on stephenerich.com in the future–we’ve now got a simple site up and running for the workshop. Check out The Workshop by ASAP Ministries for news and to see our products!
As always, pray. Someday soon our prayers will be in person, face-to-face. And that will happen sooner if we get to work now.