In August of 2009, 6 girls from Agape Restoration Center (ARC) were chosen by the ARC staff and encouraged to enter a vocational program with AIM’s new partner NGO’s, Bloom Café that opened under AIM’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education.
Each of these girls was rescued from the horrors of child sex trafficking and brought to ARC where they experienced the unconditional love of Christ and received therapy and education. God worked through the incredible staff at ARC to rebuild their lives with beauty and dignity, and they were ready for vocational training. The girls studied intently for 5 months in the hospitality and cake decorating course, and they were very nervous when final exam time arrived mid December. The course had been based on rigorous standards. Not only did the girls pass their exams, but all of them received nearly 100%. There was much to celebrate at the graduation ceremony on December 19th!
Family members were invited to attend the ceremony and many came. One family expressed disbelief that their daughter had made the beautiful cake they were going to enjoy. Once it was verified from the teacher that she had indeed made the cake, the family’s attitude towards the girl changed from disbelief to one of awe and respect.
The graduation was a great time of celebration, and the ceremony concluded by the girls singing a song that had come to mean a great deal to all of them, the Lord’s Prayer. The girls sang this song together every morning at devotions. One of the girls shared how she had been so angry and always wanted to throw things at people. When she sang the line ‘Forgive my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me’, she felt the power of Christ fill her mind with peace and she has never been the same. Now when she feels anger, she closes her eyes and even though she can’t talk for a few moments, she feels the power of Christ fill her mind, and she can slowly feel at peace again.
The evening concluded by enjoying the cakes created for the exam. Everyone gave a rousing endorsement that not only were the cakes beautiful, they were incredibly delicious, including the beautiful decorations.
Two finishing touches complete the masterpieces. In January, Bloom Café officially opened to the public where the girls began earning $120 per month, a decent wage in Cambodia, and plans are now in place to reintegrate the girls to shared living quarters in Phnom Penh in March. Our hearts are filled with praise to our awesome God for the masterpiece he has created in each of these girls who were so deeply wounded and broken by sin. Only He has the extraordinary skill to create such wonderful beauty out of brokenness.