THE COSI Children’s Village outside the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh was officially opened on May 30, 2002 to a fanfare.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived with a big entourage, including about 10 of his Cabinet ministers. Also present were officials from Kandal province, where the COSI (Community Outreach Services Immanuel) Children’s Village is located in.
Journalists from 33 newspapers and TV stations covered the event.
Singapore’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr Verghese Matthews, was present to welcome Mr Hun Sen.
The ceremony began with the playing of the Cambodian national anthem.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon told the gathering that the reason why so much energy, time, donations and passion were given to the setting up of the COSI orphanage was that “we believe in a God who loves people and reaches out to them …That God’s generous and concerned love for orphans is real and deep.”
Bishop Dr Solomon, who was dedicating the orphanage, continued: “We are also here because we are Methodists. As Methodist Christians, we have always emphasised the importance of both personal piety and doing good in society. These two aspects of our lives are interconnected. We are to love God and also to love our neighbours as ourselves.
“This great nation has gone through much sufferings in the past. Now, as the government and people seek to rebuild the land and improve the lives of the people, and bring wellbeing and peace to the nation, we are indeed very privileged to offer our partnership as friends of the people of Cambodia.”
Added Bishop Dr Solomon: “We pray for the success of this ministry and service and long to see the children who pass through this village grow up into young men and women who know what it means to be loved and cared for, and who in turn will live their lives filled with gratitude, goodness and service.”
In his address, Mr Hun Sen spoke about the needs of his country and his great desire to protect the children of Cambodia. He thanked the Singapore Methodists for their work, and thrice urged them to “continue to do more of your good work to help the needy”.
He then gave monetary gifts to each of the children and all the staff, and to the work of the orphanage — in all, a total of 2.25 million riels, which is about S$1,000.
The dream to build the COSI Children’s Village began more than two years ago. The orphanage began operations in October 2001, and is now more than half full with 64 children.
Aaron Tay, a member of Bedok Methodist Church, was involved in the setting up of the COSI Children’s Village. He has just enrolled for a three-year Master of Divinity programme at Trinity Theological College.