Year Joined MKLM: 2013
Rural Area: Chom Chao
Ministry: Missionaries of Charity Home of Hope
Ministry Area: Healthcare and Health Promotion – Disability ministry
Goals of Ministry: To care for and provide medical assistance, food, clothing and shelter to people living with developmental and physical disabilities, who have been abandoned.
Reconciliation/Restoration. These Cambodians living with developmental and physical disabilities often have experienced trauma or violence in their past. The Home of Hope is a refuge where they may find restoration and peace.
The families of folks living with developmental and physical disabilities did not have the capacity or resources to care for them. Referrals may come from a variety of channels, however admission to the Home of Hope would happen if there were approvals from both the Missionaries of Charity and the Social Welfare Department.
This ministry serves approximately 70 residents at the Home of Hope and more than 2,400 marginalized villagers in the rural area of Chom Chao.
At the Home of Hope, I collaborate with the Missionaries of Charity along with their Cambodian staff and health professionals to assist the youth living with developmental and physical disabilities to conduct daily living activities, such as physical exercise, arts and crafts, preparing and serving food, cleaning before and after eating, personal hygiene, etc., according to their unique abilities.
The differently abled youth are a lively bunch, very receptive in following instructions — except when the occasional “mischief” is afoot. They tend to be enthusiastic and eager for me to look at their works in progress. Most of the kids beam with pride when they display their achievements and their eyes sparkle with joy.
If mealtime is the most favorite time for these young people, then grooming time cannot be far behind. They enjoy lathering up the soap and smelling the fresh, clean scent. Some kids compete with each other to be next in line, even though all will get their chance. Most kids look attentively at those getting a manicure or pedicure in anticipation of their own turn. We teach these young people healthy hygiene practices, and they enjoy the personal attention. In addition to some tangible benefits, such as cooling from the heat, keeping lice at bay or reducing skin infection from scratching, the kids usually become calmer and more cooperative after grooming time. Personal care seems so ordinary and yet also profoundly special to these differently abled youth.
Hang has a graduate certificate in public health and a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Texas. Prior to joining Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2013, Hang worked in the private sector for several years.
St. Theresa Catholic Church of Austin, Texas, has been her home parish. Hang had volunteered at Meals on Wheels, in a soup kitchen and at a hospice. These encounters prompted her to serve in more profound ways and to look for mission opportunities. Why did she choose Maryknoll Lay Missioners? The stories on its website made a deep impression on her. Hang says, “Maryknoll Lay Missioners live their faith beautifully through sharing and collaborating with others and serve a wide range of those in need overseas. I feel called to do likewise.”
In Cambodia, Hang’s previous ministries include the Home of Love for abandoned children and St. Vincent de Paul Center for children from informal settlements. Hang has also worked with the Phnom Penh Diocesan Community Health Services, where she managed the staff and operations of two shelters for the sick, the provincial referral service and the kindergarten health education program.