Meet Chanteoun

Before surgery

Before surgery

After surgery

This week we’d like to introduce you to Chanteoun, a young woman who is the sister of Aly, one of our Khmer staff members. Chanteoun (pronounced “chan-too-en”) has been attending our church for some time and is employed by Sak Saum at one of our Freedom Facilities.

Though you probably wouldn’t know it looking at her now, until recently Chanteoun suffered from cleft palate, a birth defect that can lead to other numerous health issues. In Cambodia, it is believed that birth defects and handicaps are sign of a curse, or are the punishment for sin in a past life. For individuals like Chanteoun, this belief can be a factor placing them at high risk for abuse and trafficking.

After building relationship with Chanteoun through Sak Saum, we approached her with a question: would she be willing to undergo cleft palate corrective surgery? Her response was a shy but thankful “yes!” Soon our national director Theavy accompanied her to a preliminary doctor’s appointment.

Sewing at the Sak Saum Facility

On the day of her surgery, Chanteoun arrived at our office with a look of both nervousness and expectation. A night in the hospital and a short recovery period soon revealed the restoration of what had already been a beautiful smile. But over time, something else that was not there before has emerged: a lightness in Chanteoun’s step and a newfound confidence.

Please join us in praying for Chanteoun, that she would grow in her walk with God and in the confidence that comes not from self but from Him.

Simple Things


Every Saturday, our national director Theavy and some of our Sak Saum girls lead a womens’ group in Saang. It’s a time of teaching, fellowship, and mutual encouragement. Most of the women who attend are new Christians or visitors who are interested in learning more about God and how to take care of their families.

As Theavy was praying about what to teach several weeks ago, she felt God saying to just have fun with the group and not prepare a lesson. Unsure what exactly to do, Theavy bought some paper and crayons and went to the house of Chaim, an orphan caretaker who hosts the meetings.

The women’s group didn’t quite know what to make of Theavy’s announcement that they would be drawing pictures; several said they had never colored in their lives! One older lady hesitated at first, worried that she would make a mistake. Some drew pictures of their homes, or of scenes with mountains and rivers or flowers. None were exceptional by artistic standards, but to these women they were their special creations. They took turns showing each other’s artwork and explaining what they had drawn.

What a strange thing it must have been for women who have spent their whole lives in poverty and a survivalist mentality to take a moment and color a picture! One young mother with family problems shared that it was a relief to know that she could do something fun and be creative. She even said that she felt it was a healing moment for her.

Our God is one who cares about every person, inside and out. He knows the emotional needs that have not been met, the injustices and abuse that have been experienced, and (most importantly) he knows exactly what is needed to work healing in individual hearts. And sometimes that healing can start with something as simple as coloring. 

~ In His Steps