What motivates our staff and keeps us going?

It’s the end of a busy and productive year: a time of board meetings, retreats, evaluations, and eventually a Christmas party. A few days ago, at our staff retreat, some of our staff responded to a simple question: What encourages you most about the ministry of Alongsiders?  Here are some of their replies.

I love the vision to help poor and vulnerable children. Most people don’t value poor children; and the children themselves don’t have the opportunity to break out of poverty. But Alongsiders gives them a chance.

My little brother has changed. He used to be withdrawn, but he has become more brave and communicative. I see how Alongsider mentors can change the lives of their little brothers and sisters.
— Darath Chhunn (Bookkeeper/Office Manager and Alongsider mentor)
Many of the poor in my community are just doing what they see in front of them. They don’t have power, and the rich people and the government don’t empower them. But I’ve experienced that we can love and serve each other. Even though I don’t have much, and I’m not rich, I can share what I have. We can give what we have, and we can help each other. That is God’s plan.
— Karuna Seng (Office Assistant and Alongsider mentor)
I read one of the Alongsiders comic books and learned about protecting and caring for children, and that motivated me as I serve the Alongsiders staff.

There is a child who lives across from my house who is often hit by his uncle. I imagine what would happen if he had an Alongsider mentor to help protect him.
— Srey Mom (Cooking and Office Support)
I remember many times being sent away or told off by the adults if I was around while they were chatting. They never liked the idea of me as a kid being involved with them. I was raised to believe children are lower than adults. Seeing how Alongsiders (following Jesus’s example) puts children in the center, I am very much encouraged. It gives me more faith in the next generation of adults.
— Puthida Bou (Curriculum Development Assistant)
People have grown up seeing examples of adults who don’t see the value of children, and it’s difficult to overcome that. In my own family we had violence and conflict, but I was educated in ways that changed my life. I think we need to be educated in love, hope, joy, and peace, and we need to receive God in real-life. That’s the kind of education that encourages me as I work with Alongsiders. This kind of education will not only change lives, but it will also change families, the church, society, and Cambodia.
— Phearom Mark (Coordinator for Alongsiders Cambodia)
I’m most encouraged by the strategy of connecting with the young ones in the community. The peer relationships are the key. It’s a discipleship model that is very biblical and sustainable. And using storytelling is very good way to reach the children effectively.
— Paulus Samuel (Board of Directors Member)
I am encouraged by the testimonies of the Alongsider mentors and their faithful love for their little brothers and sisters. Alongsiders has a vision that’s completely replicable. It has low consumables and low financials. You get the ball rolling and let the Lord work. It doesn’t require foreigners, just pastors and other locals who are surrendered to the Lord’s moving.
— Lori Frees (Executive Administrator)
One of the small group leaders, told me that even if there was no Alongsiders organization, no support, and no meetings, his church would still continue with the Alongsiders program. I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because it helps the children in my village to have hope.’
— Serey Choeng (Director of Alongsiders Cambodia)

A survey like this doesn't tell the whole story of what encourages and motivates us, but consider a quick summary of the responses:

We are encouraged by Alongsider mentors loving, serving, and valuing poor and vulnerable children. It's effective! What they are doing is changing the lives of the children, and it's also changing families, churches, and eventually society!

This is not something foreigners or rich and powerful people are doing for the poor; it is poor people serving one-another and giving from what they have, starting with their own neighbors.  

Participating in Alongsiders changes the way people act and think. It's a transforming educational experience, and it's based on simple and sustainable practices: loving and serving neighbors and making disciples (of the mentors!) within local communities.

Even if Alongsiders were to disappear, there are people who have caught the vision who would continue the work, because it is giving people hope.

So...we're encouraged. Are you?