ICC have been working with communities in Cambodia on an initiative often called ‘Umoja’. Umoja is a Swahili word meaning ‘togetherness’ or ‘unity’. In the Khmer language of Cambodia it is called ‘Chet Tai Muay’ which could be translated as ‘being of one mind'.
The whole idea behind this project is to help churches and communities become ‘one-minded'; to see themselves as a body, with each part being necessary to the other. At the first stage of Chet Tai Muay, local people and church leaders are trained as facilitators through a series of Bible studies, all about God’s heart for the poor.
They are also taught about the resources that God has already given them, and encouraged to value those, as well as valuing the people around them. The facilitators then go out into their communities and begin teaching others what they have learnt. The change in attitude leads to a complete transformation in those involved in Chet Tai Muay. They are encouraged to begin savings and credit groups, where each member gives a small amount every week into a pot, which can then be taken as a loan by group members so they can start a small business.
Mr. Sophal is one non-Christian who has become very involved in the project. He was very suspicious of the church and Chet Tai Muay at first. He thought the facilitator in his area was only there to try and persuade him to become a Christian, so he decided to just observe what the group were doing in his village. They had started a savings and credit group, which he found interesting.
He noticed that the church group valued and respected the local people. Their attitude inspired Mr. Sophal to get involved with the group. After a while he was trained to be a Local Coordinator. One and a half years have now passed and he can see the changes that have happened. Each member of the group is committed to saving money! He believes that soon even more people will join in.