I am Pastor Sinai Phouek, founder of New Hope for Orphans but also a person who survived the time of the Khmer Rouge Regime called the ‘Pol Pot came to power. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge slaughtered approximately two million Cambodians. People lived in suffering, hunger, torture, and family-separation. They killed people without mercy; using bats, floggings, bases of guns, spades, starvation, ropes to hang people to death or by knocking children against a rock or a tree. The Khmer Rouge moved Cambodians away from their homes and forced them to do hard work as slaves in the rice fields. Cambodians were living without freedom and hope, and they could be killed at any time for disobedience. In addition, all of the known educated people were killed. For this reason, many people tried to escape for their safety and survival during the Regime. The Khmer Rouge destroyed the country’s infrastructure by abolishing education, health care, monetary systems and art.
I grew up in northwestern Cambodia, near the Thai border, where many thousands of landmines were buried. When I grew up, I saw a lot of bombs and landmines explode during the war. The Khmer Rouge soldiers separated my parents, sisters, brothers and me from each other and we could not visit. Being forcefully separated from my family, I lived as an orphan and worked from one village to another. Every day, I saw a lot of people die of hunger, suffering, torture, and overwork. I decided to flee to a refugee camp, a safe place surrounded by landmines near the Thai border, because I heard someone say that if we were able to get there, we would be safe and survive.
It was very difficult to get to the refugee camp and many people did not make it. By God’s grace, I was able to reach there safely and lived there for two years. A man from one of the organizations at the camp shared with me about the Hope of Jesus Christ. I told him, “for me to believe in Jesus Christ, it means that I betray my parents, my culture, and whatever people have trusted and believed in our country.” After that, one day, I attended the small church in the refugee camp. The massage really touched my heart and impacted my life. I consequently decided to give my life to Jesus. From that day, something like joy, love, and the hope of the Lord really flowed into me, which made me start a new life.
In 1993, after prayer and fasting, the Lord specifically spoke to me about a ministry to orphaned and abandoned children because my passion is to help children. I then attended Bible School in Phnom Penh. While there, I met and fell in love with a girl who was in the same class. Her name is Somalay. After graduation, we married and joined together in serving God’s ministry: children ministry according to his calling on our lives. In 1998, we started one small children’s home with five children who on one wanted to care for. We wanted to give them a new hope for their lives. In addition, we have three children of our own: Rebecca, Deborah and Angela.
Since then, I have obtained Master’s Degree in Business Management at Build Bright University and an honorary Doctorate Degree from California. The ministry has grown to include New Hope for Orphans, Fellowship Word of Life Church, Cambodia Christian School Network (CCSN) and I the I Love Cambodia Project