The journey began for me in 2004 when I started work as a Christian Pastoral Support Worker in a South Australian high school. I was soon challenged by the passions of the young people who felt that it was their responsibility to speak up about making poverty history, ending modern slavery and caring for the environment and they asked me as a Christian, what I was going to do about it. Together the students and I explored what it meant to “act justly, seek mercy and walk humbly with God.”
A short-term missions trip and a short holiday to Cambodia in 2010 cemented the passion I felt to live my life in a way that supported vulnerable and marginalised groups as a response to my faith. I returned to university to get a Masters of International and Community Development to learn how to best support local communities and applied to become a cross-cultural worker.
After arriving in Phnom Penh in 2014, I frequently found myself in conversations within the missionary community expressing frustration about the difficulties associated with hosting short-term mission teams. There was a growing recognition that prevalent models were not only failing to provide effective long term support for ministries on the ground, they were actively doing harm to the very people they came to serve - the local Cambodians. As I learnt more about the institutionalisation of children and how they were being driven by wealthy outsiders and passionate volunteers - many who shared my faith beliefs - I was challenged to find a way to advocate into this space. And thus Rok Kern was born.
Rok Kern aims to take the research and experiences that long-term workers in both the development and mission sectors have been accumulating over the years and pass that learning onto your communities. We aim to equip you with the knowledge you need to engage with communities in a healthy manner, to show you how it can be done, and to prevent you from repeating the same mistakes that many of our church, school and volunteering communities have been making for years.
The themes and values we explore in Rok Kern come from my personal journey, and that of my teammates. We are excited to be able to share that journey with you.