Mission to Cambodia – April 2019

Written by Dr Julie Morsillo PhD, Master of Community Counselling Co-ordinator, Eastern College Australia

Vana, a previous graduate of both MST & Eastern, has been a missionary in Cambodia for 22 years. She asked me to provide training to new and experienced counsellors at the Christian-based Garden of Life Counselling Centre in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I took two of my Master of Community Counselling students, Sarah & Maggie, with me and we had the most wonderful journey. The entire trip was rich in learning experiences and profoundly personal revelations.

Singapore with Joanne Tan & Sarah Chang (Masters student)

Singapore with Joanne Tan & Sarah Chang (Masters student)
Singapore with Joanne Tan & Sarah Chang (Masters student)

Joanne has been living with her husband and two small children as missionaries in Singapore for 3 months so far. Her husband is an Assistant Pastor for Redemption Hill Church with 1,000 members. Joanna is a counsellor with a heart to reach out to  Singaporean youth, in various ways including digital social media. She has been making contacts with other counsellors wanting to support youth. She says that Singapore youth have a high suicide rate, with the stress of expectations to succeed, leading to depression and suicidal thoughts. With support, some youth begin to feel better, however, some still suicide. For many, life improves momentarily before it gets bad again, and suicide has at times been romanticised or glorified by Asian and other cultures. So Joanne is reflecting on the best ways to support vulnerable youth in Singapore.

Siem Reep with Sarah Chang & Maggie Deng (Masters students)

We stayed at an opulent French colonial hotel next door to the traditional cultural centre with traditional goods and dancing. Traditional Cambodian cultural dancing to folk tales with local dishes to feast upon.

Visited the famous largest temple in the world, Angkor Wat. 

Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia, is another famous temple, where part of Tomb Raider movie was set. A king in the 12th century, heavily influenced by his religious wife, built this temple and over 100 other temples and rest places for travellers, plus 102 hospitals with free health care and schools. That king is regarded as the first to ever provide good free health care to his subjects. This wife also promoted schools to educate street girls.

Genocide museum in Phnom Penh
Genocide museum in Phnom Penh

Visited the Genocide museum in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. Originally a school in the heart of the city, that was transformed, like many schools, into prison camps of torture in the late 1970s. Millions of people forced out of the cities, with all infrastructure destroyed, thousands of educated people (and all with glasses) tortured and millions died of starvation in the countryside. Genocide. These gentle, gracious people are still recovering from this trauma.


Inspiring missionaries
Visited social justice mission work in the slums of Cambodia, with an Aussie couple and their kids working and living with locals. Rescuing young men from the drug scene, providing work making t-shirts with social justice messages, with the local pastor, and the young men using their income for education to escape poverty. Impressive! See website – https://justees.org


Inspiring social enterprise business
Blown away by this amazing social enterprise, ‘Bloom’ assists vulnerable girls from sex trafficking. Bloom teaches them cake making skills, to sell exquisite cupcakes and wedding cakes. Stores all over Cambodia and more (Aussie CEO Ruth, came to the training with some of the young women).Bloom Asia

Light of Times


An inspiring young Cambodian woman, Tiv Linat, came to our training. She is CEO of Light of Times, the first and only Christian magazine in Cambodia, with many articles on how to improve your life and sense of wellbeing. She and her husband gave up other work for this calling, with two young children. Tiv also gives inspiring workshops to encourage other leaders in the community.



Flower amongst the rocksTraining to Counsellors with Garden of Life Counselling Centre
We enjoyed giving Narrative Therapy training using the Tree of Life metaphor, for ‘Finding your redemptive story of hope’ partnering with the Garden of Life Counselling Service in Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA, with local and ex-pat counsellors attending (with interpreters). Ceremonies with stones to acknowledge the times of despair, and flowers to recall the stories of hope. Thanks to Vana Eliezer for organising this partnership. Vana is a graduate of both MST and Eastern as a counsellor and we are very proud of the work and ministry she has been involved in.

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