Day 3C – An Evening I Will Never Forget

We ended up with some free time after Hagar which I used to work on my IJM notes. We then headed off to a quick dinner where I had a cool drink: Watermelon & Chili smoothie. The drink combinations here are really interesting. Each time there is something unusual on the menu, I am trying to have it. Watermelon and Chili adds a slight kick to the drink and brings out the flavour of the watermelon. And the watermelon is fresh- not a fake syrop- so it is a neat texture. I was quite surprised at how yummy it was and as a hot day drink it was really refreshing.

And then on to what was a highlight of the trip so far for me: Bloom Café Graduation.

Here’s another organization where I am limited as to what I will put in print. I look forward to sharing pictures and stories when I get home.

I encourage you to visit to get a visual of what I am going to write about.

Bloom Café is a social enterprise. It trains and employs Cambodian women in cake making and decorating, cupcake, and café skills. It is set in a beautiful old building which normally is a café frequented by the many ex-pats living in Cambodia.

Bloom Café works in partnership with IJM and Hagar. If you have read my past journal entries, I will let you connect the dots as to what that means…

We were privileged to be at the graduation of 5 young women. Every 3 months, a new class of young women goes through an extensive training program. When they graduate, they receive certification through an organization in Australia. For the 3 months of their program, they work very hard. They learn the skills, they write exams. No small thing for someone who is illiterate. The Bloom teacher have found ways to teach all the skills, including how to read recipes, even though the majority of the young women can’t read.

For the graduation, the women were dressed in full cap and gown and under their gowns had on their best dresses. Hair was done up, make up… the full bit. They were introduced as a graduating class and then, one by one, were called up to receive their certification.

It was beautiful.

Their families were invited to the celebration as were many from related organizations who had been part of their journey- which is why we were able to be there. It was neat to see and hear the pride and excitement over the big moment in these young women’s lives.

What is really cool to learn about Bloom Café is that it is a really young venture yet it has made quite the impression on Phnom Penh. Some of the clients who regularly order from Bloom include the Royal Family, the prime minister and many of Cambodia’s elite. The cakes are beautiful and delicious.

Cakes made by studentsCakes made by students


Remarkably, the founders, Ruth and Murray, have no background in this business. The idea came to the female founder who loved baking. Back in Australia, she and her husband had successful careers but following a trip much like the one we are on, they felt called to leave Australia and start up this skills training not-for-profit business. The rest is history.

It was profoundly moving to watch this couple celebrate each individual. They clearly have a deep love of each young woman and along with the presentation of the certificate, each was affirmed, encouraged and the rest of us got to learn how that young woman is gifted in character and skill. I cried through all of it. Nothing moves me to tears faster than seeing people discover their potential and having it affirmed by others.

I have been thinking ever since about “eating for a cause” ventures. It seems to me that Calgary is an environment ripe for this kind of idea. To my knowledge, the only one that is somewhat similar is Venu 1008 but it is primarily a catering / events business. Hmmm….

Once again, it was so inspiring to meet humble Christian people, boldly taking steps of faith to be obedient to the crazy idea God laid on their heart. I am encouraged to keep on “keeping on” with the crazy Harmony through Harmony idea God laid on my heart. May it be used as greatly to be a culture changing organization as the ones I am being so privileged to see here.



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