STEVE NORMAN: Ratanak UK (United Kingdom)
In April 2008, Steve Norman, a Police Officer of 24 years, chanced upon an article in a Sunday newspaper supplement about a girl sold into prostitution at the age of 13. The next day he bought the book and read it through that night into the next day. It was through this experience that God broke his heart and placed therein a deep compassion for the children of Cambodia who have no voice and endure such unimaginable suffering. The overwhelming desire to engage in this issue was impressed on him.
Following numerous fruitless searches and being advised that it was an area best avoided, Steve happened upon Ratanak International. Over the following months and the exchange of countless emails and calls, the prospect of developing Ratanak International in the UK became a reality. In May 2009 Ratanak-UK was formally born. At the time of writing, progress is being made in moving towards registering Ratanak (UK) with the UK Charities Commission and to the establishing of a support network.
Steve is a committed Christian and has been married to Karen for 22 years. They have two children aged 21 and 19 and are joyous at the arrival of their third child in February 2010. They also have a 3 year old grand-daughter. They live in rural North Yorkshire.
JESSIKA AND PAUL: Toronto, Ontario
Jessika first heard about Ratanak International and its ministry to help child sex slaves when she attended a conference Ratanak held in 2009. Paul was also moved to get involved and came along side with Jessika shortly after that. God planted His seeds in their hearts for this ministry and they started attending Ratanak Toronto monthly prayer meetings and core group meetings since. As time went by, the Lord continued to open doors for Jessika to speak at a variety of places including some as far away as Hong Kong. In January 2011, Jessika made her first trip to Cambodia on a vision trip and that simply deepened her calling from God to be the voice for the exploited children in Cambodia and her love for the Khmer and the ethnic Vietnamese people. Jessika and Paul will be overseeing the Toronto group of volunteers and are available for speaking and promoting the work of Ratanak at different awareness events and challenging others to get involved on the home side to seek justice on behalf of the poor and the oppressed. They enjoy spending time and blasting music at home with their 2 daughters, Heather (6 years old) and Lilias (1 year old) whom are already supporting the work of Ratanak by participating in various fundraising activities with their parents.
PETER and SHERI PHILLIPS: Cambridge, Ontario
Peter and Sheri have had a heart for missions and disadvantaged/marginalized people for many years. Peter has been involved in a number of short-term mission trips and Sheri previously worked as a public education coordinator for domestic violence against women. Both are currently employed in Social Services.
Peter and Sheri first became aware of the issues of human trafficking in Cambodia when they were invited to hear Brian McConaghy at a one-day conference in November 2009. The scope and brutality of abuse suffered by women and children, combined with severe poverty in the aftermath of genocide and trauma, moved them deeply.
In March 2010, Peter and Sheri, as part of a team from Forward Baptist Church, Cambridge, travelled to Svay Pak, Cambodia to help complete the newly renovated Sanctuary building. This experience served to deepen their heart for Cambodia and the issues that its people face on a daily basis.
In January 2011, Peter joined a Vision trip and returned to Cambodia to increase awareness of other projects supported by Ratanak. As representatives, Peter and Sheri are seeking people in the Cambridge/Kitchener-Waterloo area, who are interested in developing a greater awareness of the issues facing the people of Cambodia, especially human trafficking and poverty. They are available for speaking events and to promote the work of Ratanak through different venues, encouraging others to become involved in the issues of social justice.
Here at home, they love to spend time with their daughters Victoria (15) and Breanna (12) who both have a heart for missions..
JEREMY AND NIA BATES: Lockport, New York, USA
Jeremy and Nia currently reside in Lockport, NY (30 minutes north of Buffalo and 20 minutes from the border of Canada) where Jeremy is involved with various real estate ventures throughout Western NY, and Nia teaches elementary physical education, and together they lead the Mission Mobilization Team focused on injustice at The Chapel at Lockport.
Along with real estate and teaching, Jeremy and Nia share a passion for the people in their community and in Cambodia. Nia had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia in February 2010 with the Human Trafficking Task Force in Western NY to work with victims of sex trafficking through World Hope International.
After Jeremy and Nia were introduced to Ratanak International at a Heavenly Night - Kelita Concert, they felt an immediate connection with the organization and are excited to volunteer with Ratanak to advocate and help do the Lords' work in Cambodia.
PAUL DYLLA: Vancouver, BC
Paul has known Brian McConaghy since Brian moved to Vancouver, and has supported Brian's work in the then Ratanak Foundation since the time of its inception in the late 1980s. His first opportunity to get personally involved came in 2001 when he and a small team from Fairview Presbyterian Church travelled to Cambodia to see the congregation's 100th Anniversary legacy, the Sunshine House orphanage. He left a large part of his heart there, so it was not surprising that he leapt at the opportunity to return in 2008 with others from the Church to assist in the demolition and renovation of the notorious brothel which, through the grace of God, became Rahab's House. He also co-ordinated the on-shore support network for the congregation's 2010 mission to renovate the Sanctuary.
Paul's love for Cambodia, its troubled people and his experiences there led him to a more involved role in the Ratanak organization and this year to serve as Ratanak's Volunteer Ride for Refuge coordinator.
Paul, his wife and children all worship at Fairview Presbyterian Church where he has been an elder for twenty four years. He loves cycling and is eager to give his new bicycle a work-out in this year's Ride for Refuge event.
JIM AND GEORGIA JOHNSTONE: Vernon, BC
Jim and Georgia moved to Vernon after 40 years of living in Calgary, Alberta. Jim is a retired high school math teacher and Georgia was a paramedic with the City of Calgary for 19 years.
Georgia's first trip to Cambodia was in 2006 with a team from her home church in Calgary. They spent most of their time with Marie Ens at Place of Rescue where she met Stewart and Susan McKercher (Saskatchewan Representatives) and heard about Ratanak International. In January of 2007, Jim and Georgia went back to Cambodia for 3 weeks spending time at Place of Rescue and taking surgical/medical supplies up to Poipet for the hospital there. Stewart and Susan were very gracious in hosting them and touring around to many different areas. Since being home in Canada, they have decided they wanted to be involved with Ratanak International, having a passion to help the girls/women of Cambodia and spread the word to others of their plight.
LAURA LUONG: Calgary, Alberta
Laura was born in Saigon, Vietnam and came to Canada when she was 7 years old.
She grew up in Edmonton, Alberta but now her home is Calgary. Laura is a professional engineer (married to another engineer), and the mother of two adorable girls.
Laura first heard about Ratanak International in 2007 and it was through her persistent emails and enthusiasm that Brian first went to Calgary to speak to her church and others. She continues to coordinate a Ratanak International prayer and reading group in Calgary for those interested in Cambodia and assists with local events and speaking engagements for Brian.
DEBBIE SHIELS: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Debbie retired from her elementary teaching career in 2008. She mainly worked with Gr. 2 and Gr. 4 children and loved to motivate, and encourage the love of learning through Science and Reading.
A connection with Cambodia started when Deb was a child. The church her family attended was the home church to Cambodia Missionaries Norman and Marie Ens and the their family. She followed their work with the Cambodian people over the years. Later when Marie Ens founded Place of Rescue in Cambodia, Debbie's desire to be part of the work with the orphaned children, and to go to Cambodia grew. Through Susan and Stew's friendship, service in Cambodia and their Association with Ratanak, Debbie heard Brian speak in Saskatoon about Ratanak's many projects. She was deeply moved, when he spoke of the many children who were suffering in the brothels of Cambodia. Her prayer for the next stage of her life was that God would show her how to use her talents to serve Him. God is pointing her to Cambodia. This past year, she and several others met regularly to discuss books and information learned about Cambodian history and its people in preparation for a tour of Cambodia.
SARAH SURH: Vancouver, BC
Sarah and her husband Steve are from Toronto Ontario. They moved to Vancouver in the summer of 2010. Sarah is an actress who is passionate about using her skills towards bringing awareness in the media about the issues in Cambodia and being an advocate for the voiceless. She has trained with Lisa Cheong in Toronto for 5 years and is looking forward to getting involved with Ratanak International in Vancouver. Sarah is a proud attendee of New Joy Church in Richmond BC.
MELISSA POLMAN: Office Manager
Melissa returned to Vancouver in 2007 after having worked with YWAM overseas for 2.5 years. She enjoys travelling and experiencing many countries/cultures. Her passion is for those who are in need whether here in Canada or on the other side of the world.
Working with Ratanak International has proved to be a wonderful opportunity for Melissa to engage with those who have a passion to help in Cambodia. This process facilitates Melissa's stated desire to grow deeper in her understanding of Jesus' love for the Khmer people.
Melissa is the Ratanak Vancouver Office Manager and is responsible for many diverse activities including catching the balls that Brian drops!
FAITH MOK: Financial Manager
Faith brings several years of public accounting experience to her role as Financial Manager with Ratanak International. She came to us passionate about wanting to use her accounting skills to help support our work in Cambodia through strategic management of our finances. Faith enjoys staying fit and eating well which is of great benefit to the other staff members in the Ratanak Vancouver Office as she helps them break bad eating habits!
Alexis Cobham: Donations Administrator
For the past 8 years, Alexis has been working in various fields such as International missions, non-profit overseas microloan projects, and small business ownership. Alexis has her BA in English and Sociology, a Professional Culinary Certificate, and a Small Business Management Certificate. Each of these diverse job descriptions and experiences has allowed Alexis to develop a set of leadership and relational skills conducive to working in the International arena. Alexis is happy to be a part of the Ratanak International team as the Donations Administrator and increasingly feels connected to and passionate about the various projects and children of Cambodia.
Lisa Cheong: Country Director - Cambodia
Lisa Cheong left her job in the investment industry as a Senior Analyst in the Private Wealth Management Research Services group of National Bank Financial to move to Cambodia and join Ratanak International as our full-time Country Director. She was born in Guyana, South America and migrated with her family to Canada in 1976. She became a born again Christian in the early 1990s and served overseas for 1 year with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) in Singapore. For the next 10 years, she continued to volunteer with OMF sitting on the OMF Home Council and organizing monthly mission meetings for young professionals.
In 1999, God opened her heart for the nation of Cambodia when she attended a prayer meeting.
After reading a book called Killing Fields, Living Fields by Don Cormack, an OMF missionary, she began to travel to Cambodia. Since 2000, she has been visiting Cambodia on an annual basis, taking short term teams and spending time encouraging missionaries. She sees herself as a "mobilizer", identifying the needs and opportunities in Cambodia and sharing the vision back here at home. In the beginning of 2006, she became the Toronto Representative for Ratanak International, and in summer of 2011 accepted the staff position of Country Director. Lisa's passion is to seek justice on behalf of child sex slaves by bringing awareness to the issues of child sex trafficking, advocating on behalf of child prostitutes by encouraging others to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8) and challenging Christians to take tangible actions by investing in the lives of these former child prostitutes. To that end, she has been involved in coordinating conferences in Toronto on this issue, promoting justice seminars and joining with like minded individuals from 7 different churches in Toronto to mobilize others to be a voice for the voiceless. She is a member of Rexdale Alliance church in Etobicoke. Lisa is overseeing our operations in Cambodia, based from our office in Phnom Penh.
Ratanak International, as it seeks to be a blessing to Cambodia and positively impact many lives, has developed long-term, positive relationships and partnerships with several key organizations:
Operating in Cambodia:
Chab Dai Coalition
Long-Term Partners in Raising Funds for Ratanak Projects:
Heavenly Night, Directed and Founded by
Kelita Haverland - www.heavenlynight.org
STEVEN FRIEBEL: Certified Financial Planner
In addition to Steven's professional financial experience he also brings a wealth of personal experience and sensitivity having grown up as a "missionary kid" in India.
GRANT WILSON: Minister
Grant has immersed himself in things Cambodian for many years. He has visited Cambodia many times with Ratanak International, participating in and leading mission teams. He has also visited personally and has an adopted Cambodian daughter.
EDWARD BOWES: Barrister and Solicitor
Edward comes to Ratanak International with over 30 years of legal experience in Vancouver. He is currently a practicing Barrister and Solicitor, and is also a Judicial Justice of the Peace.
JAN HOBBIS: Ministry Worker
Jan comes to the Ratanak International Board of Directors with 20 years experience of owning/operating a small business, but presently works in full time ministry. She visited Cambodia in early 2010 as a member of a Ratanak International mission team.
KIT SCHINDELL: Freelance Editor
Kit is a recently retired health care professional who is presently involved with her family, her church community and her own business as a freelance editor. She has been involved with Ratanak International in various ways, including work-trips to Svay Pak in 2008 (Rahab's House) and 2010 (The Sanctuary).
Television Journalist / Producer / Director
In addition to 20 years of media experience, Cheryl also brings a keen international perspective and passion through her humanitarian travel and reporting. Besides numerous stories on the work of Ratanak International from Canada, she has also travelled to Cambodia on two occasions to feature their work.
TOM ROBINSON: Professional Engineer
Tom comes to the Ratanak International Board of Directors with 25 years of experience as an engineer and project manager leading and managing teams of engineers and designers in studies and multidiscipline water and wastewater treatment projects. He is keenly interested in Ratanak's programs, and hopes to visit Cambodia in the near future.