The Malai Church Orphan Home is located in northern area of Bantemeanchy Province, in northwest Cambodia.Bantemeanchy means “Camp of Victory” and was a strategic spot in the long struggle with the Khmer Rouge. Located at the junction of major highways coming from Phnom Penh and Battambang to the south and east, and Siem Reap to the east, the area was the scene of fierce fighting during the past 30 year period.
Malai is located on the western edge of Cambodia on the Thai border. It is considered in the heart of the rice producing region of Cambodia, and is generally flat rice paddy with dark fertile soil. Malai is in an area that is heavily mined and much of the best land is unproductive due to mines. Though generally considered historically productive, due to the war, the area is considered poverty stricken and thus lacking many of the modern conveniences like electricity, wells and health care facilities. Schools built during more prosperous times now lie in ruins.
Malaria, Landmines, childbirth complications, along with poor healthcare, contribute to the large orphan population in this area. An average of two people per day become casualties of landmines in Cambodia, and this is one of the most heavily mined regions in the country.
The Malai Church was founded in 2001 and the Church/Home constructed in 2002. A typical day begins as the children awake. Before eating breakfast, the orphans participate in devotions. The school age children either attend classes in the morning or in the late afternoon. After lunch, most of the orphans take naps, play, study, and take classes in the home. Later, they eat dinner, take care of the homes’ garden and plants, and attend an English class in the home. The Malai family orphans finish each day gathering for church devotions, before setting up their mosquito nets and going to sleep.