Latest News from ICF Campus

Hello world.

It’s high time I spread some exciting news about our Campus!

First of all, we have changed the name. Please note, no ELEVATE CAMPUS anymore. Since the beginning of this year, we only have on name: ICF CAMBODIA – therefore we call what used to be the ELEVATE CAMPUS now ICF CAMPUS. This change enables us to work more transparent and straightforward within the community. Our goal is to spread the gospel while breaking the cycle of poverty. Same vision. Same tasks. Same goal. But only one name! Well, that might have not been too exciting yet. But it goes on……

We are happy and proud to announce that …

SIEM REAP has finally its FIRST PLAYGROUND !

This was only made possible thanks to a team from YWAM Perth. With a lot of creativity and energy they served us within the last few weeks. They accepted the challenge to build a playground, using not much more than tires, bolts and wood. It started with doing research, measuring and drawing plans after plans until they had finally figured out how to order the different obstacles. With lots of confidence and (almost) unlimited possibilities they dreamt of a mind-blowing experience for kids in every age. Filled with passion for the Khmer youth, they sweated, dug wholes into the ground and connected tire to tire.

Khmer – Language of Wonder

Khmer. The language of the kingdom of wonder – CAMBODIA. Khmer sometimes does make me wonder. But let’s begin with the facts about this rather interesting language: The Khmer language is mostly spoken in Cambodia and a tiny minority in south Vietnam as well as in Thailand at the border to Cambodia speak Khmer, too. That’s about 16 Mio. people all in all. Just as in Switzerland or other countries, they have lots of different dialects. And it’s not said, that everybody understands everybody. Finally, they use one official language with normal grammar rules for writing. There is no other language like Khmer – neither written nor spoken. At the same time, it has influenced and been influenced by Thai, Lao, Vietnamese and Chinese. All of these languages (and some more) are still being used in Cambodia by minor foreign groups. Since Cambodia was occupied by France, it also has some words in French.

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An official transliteration system for the Latin alphabet doesn’t exist. No surprise, that everybody creates his own system. Khmers and foreigners alike are writing with the latin letters how ever they feel like. So don’t blame me when you learn following words with my description and then when you say them, nobody understands you 😉

Happy Merry Christmas 2015!

This is how I celebrated Christmas. With over 1000 Kids.
And over 130 volunteers.
And several parents.
And 3 chicken, a cow and a human donkey.

At almost 30°C. With blue sky and pure sunshine.
With jumping castle, trampoline, tires, gymnastic balls and more.
And generator humming in the background.

Without Christmas tree, without snow, without Jingle Bells, without feast.
That’s history.
Because this time we had shepherds dancing HipHop.
And angels dancing Apsara.

Additionally, kids who learned how to brush teeth.
Learned how to wash hands correctly.
Got their face painted.
Did crafts.
Laughed.

So simple but still so spectacular.

Convince yourself:

Kids – the future leaders

I don’t know, if there is many better things to do during Christmas time than actually organizing a KIDS CHRISTMAS PARTY for hundreds of Cambodian Kids. Another event we’ve never done before. And the first biiig event on our Campus. I love pioneering. Challenges keep my life running 😉

For Khmers, Christmas might be just another ordinary day. However, for us it’s a great opportunity to spread LOVE, JOY, FUN, …..

Read here how you can add your own part to the this year’s Christmas story:

go to GIFT IDEAS

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Between pork and diamonds

A few days ago, I got a rather special task which I first really didn’t like but turned out to be quite interesting: On Elevate Campus, we got the delivery of the sheet metal which we would use to cover the roof of our Kids Church. Since we prefer double-checking everything and everyone, I needed to organize a tool to take meassures of the thickness of the sheet metal. No really good construction shop has dared to come to Siem Reap yet, therefore, I started at the sheet metal dealer. With my Khmer friend, I tried to explain, what I need. I had no idea what to call that thing in German, let alone English and she didn’t know in Khmer either. There was not much else left than to describe using hands and feet. The kind lady behind the desk smiled at us and replied that she didn’t have it and also had no idea if that was existent in Cambodia at all. Awesome. I asked her a bit unbelieving, whether she would ever control the deliveries. She – still smiling – went, no, that’s not necessary, the deliverer would only send the right stuff. Oh, I see. From such strong trust I need a piece!

From then on, I went searching by myself. Translation or not – anyways, it will not be easy. Firstly, I rode to the “Bosch”-Shop – pretty much the only one which sells good tools. Quickly, I had to detect that her English was worse than my Khmer. Stupidly, I had found it unimportant to memorize the words “thickness” and “taking meassures”. How foolish. Well. There was the other – seller or customer or angel? – who knew both languages surprisingly well. I explained him, what I was searching, he explained her and BLING! she understood. From a dusty corner she brought a tool with which you could take meassures as exact as millimeters. What a pity, that the sheet metal is thinner than 1mm. Well, let’s go then. The seller/customer/angel added incidentally that I should try in the jewellery section in Psah Leu – the local market. And disappeared. Without me having thanked him. I quickly took a photo – could be of use later – and looked again for the other guy. But I couldn’t find him. Weird. Maybe really an angel … ?

Let’s get real.

This entry is different from anything you have read here before. It’s about the other side. A honest reflection and probably something you don’t expect.

It’s been a year. Actually more than a year already since I left Switzerland. I remember it as good as if it had been yesterday even though it seems to be an eternity away. My journey was comfortable, took over 30 hours, within which I had to change the airplane three times. Yes, I do a lot to save money. And yes, I also missed a plane due to a delay of the one before. Smile. And if I had considered it as a “crazy challenge” that time (I didn’t), I would laugh at those thoughts nowadays. There is far bigger challenges in a life abroad. In a life as a volunteer in an entirely foreign surrounding with heaps of situations you have to face, to cope with, to get used to.

THE one

I’ve been asked many times, what is THE biggest challenge. Well, that’s not an easy question. And I guess, everyone in our team would answer it differently.
From my point of view, there is none. There is no BIGGEST challenge. It is the combination of various obstacles which appear sometimes to be bigger, sometimes smaller, sometimes don’t appear at all – probably depending on time, recent happenings and problems, mood.

I wonder.

I wonder when the day comes when we stop hating each other. Stop judging each other. Stop blaming each other. Stop complaining about each other. Stop correcting each other.

And when WE START LOVING EACH OTHER.

UNCONDITIONALLY.
UNCONTROLLABLY.
INFINITELY.

I wonder when the day comes when we start encouraging each other. Helping each other. Blessing each other. Forgiving each other. Elevating each other.

No matter what.

Pioneering. Once again.

“Hey Mamacita
wo söll‘s dänn higah?
London, Paris oder Rom? […]”

(“Hey Mamacita
where should we go?
London, Paris or Rom? […]”)

Bligg, a Swiss rapper, was shouting this into my ears at 4am on Saturday, 13th of June. I put him on snooze. Shut up, I thought and turned around.
5min later, he asked me again, “… where should we go?”.

TO ELEVATE OF COURSE !!!

and NOW. GET. UP. !!!

“I believe life is all about choices, and we can choose to cooperate with the words of death and sickness spoken over our lives, or we can choose to rise above them.”

“Family” knows no borders

A wonderful era came to an end some weeks ago. “My” drivers left the construction side Elevate. It was time since the first building phase was finished. And since the rain season has come closer and it started to be difficult to drive due to the mud.

Together we got up early and worked until late. We sweated. We partied and danced. Played football with empty water bottles – also called recycling. Went swimming. Laughed, joked, enjoyed our community. Celebrated one’s birthday. Together we suffered when a truck got stuck or a machine broke. We sought shelter from the strong wind or the rain. They taught me to drive the big excavator (- not easy!). To speak and understand more Khmer. And they taught me about their life, their family, their culture. However, my attempts to teach them English or Swiss German failed miserably.

They are more than people working for us. Rather like friends – or even like BROTHERS to me.

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