November 3, 2023 By Janice Lee
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA – When tears rolled down her face as she was telling us her story, I knew she was getting a hug from me when she was done. Youlika Vann, one of the students residing in our women’s dorm for university students – Susanna Wesley House (SWH) – was sharing that SWH was a blessing for her. She was able to leave her stepmother’s home and live in Christian community, focusing on her studies rather than constant house chores. SWH is a dorm for young women who cannot afford to attend universities and lack a safe place to live in the city, where most of the universities are located.
A Global Ministries scholarship program, with contributions from congregations and individuals, provides tuition to help these young women attain higher education as they deepen their faith in Christ. Although Youlika attested SWH was a blessing for her, she was, in fact, a blessing for us. With her love for Christ and gentle servant leadership, I knew that she had the potential to be a great leader.
When she graduated from university, I offered her an opportunity to work with the Cambodian mission team. In a country where women are second class citizens, many young women are discouraged from continuing education beyond elementary school. We wanted to help young women (ages 16-25) become economically independent, to give them options other than marrying for financial reasons – marriages that are often short-lived.