Caleb Smith – Religious Consultant
Hi! I’m Caleb – the religious consultant for the Rok Kern project. I lived in Cambodia for 4 years. I came to Cambodia as someone who wanted to help others and make a difference for orphaned and vulnerable children. What I didn’t realise at the time is that “making a difference” is not always as simple or straightforward as it sometimes seems in our imaginations.
My wife and I came to Cambodia with the intention of taking over as directors of an orphanage. My brief time working up close and personally in an institution showed me how flawed this system is, and how nothing can replace a loving family for children. Since then, I’ve been a big advocate for local families and local solutions for orphaned and vulnerable children. Who knows better how to help Cambodian children than Cambodians themselves?Specifically, I’ve become passionate about helping Western churchgoers see their role in helping support children to live and remain in loving families. Too often, well-meaning Christians (like myself) financially support institutional models of care, like orphanages, for vulnerable children, many of whom still have living parents or extended families who, if given the proper supports, could care for their children. We have created a system where all of the money is flowing towards buildings, staff, and “orphanages” filled with children who aren’t orphans. There is no reason why foreign visitors should be playing such a large role in separating children from their families – we must do better.I hope to play a small role in showing people a better way to help children and really make a difference!