Maryknoll Joint Cambodia Project

Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers have served together in mission in Cambodia since the early 1990s. Although we are three separate financial entities, we are a “Mission Family” and share the same foundation and mission values. In a newly-formed collaborative effort, the Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers and Brothers have joined forces to continue bringing the liberating message of the Gospel in deed and word to the marginalized in Cambodia.

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Dee Dungy – Serving Vulnerable Youth, Marginalized Women,
the Abandoned Elderly, and more…

DeewithkidsMaryknoll Lay Missioners will highlight the work and ministry of lay missioner Dee Dungy, who initiated her Cambodian ministry in 2012, soon after joining MKLM. This project is expected to reach and serve even more people through your support and generosity, as we all unite together to do God’s will.

Dee  has been serving in mission for more than five years at the Maryknoll Community Center in Anlong Kangan, a forced eviction resettlement area about 45 minutes outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Approximately 4,700 families live in this shantytown. Dee is involved in a number of ministries, including two women’s groups, an eldercare program, and the Pillar of Help. Through these ministries, Dee serves vulnerable youth, abandoned seniors, nursing mothers, and migrant workers, who live in very difficult conditions on the fringes of society.

In her Elder Care Project, she meets with seniors to discuss issues facing them. She helps organize social activities designed to empower and entertain, such as picnics at the beach and visits to waterfalls, to ward off loneliness and depression. Dee guides seniors through the process of obtaining health benefits, while assisting those unable to take care of their own hygiene. She also negotiates adult foster care situations and helps to provide nutritional meals. In her work with women’s groups, Dee serves the poorest of the marginalized women, nursing mothers and children. Dee teaches and trains mothers about the importance of good hygiene, how to make nutritious boba (rice porridge) for their families, and how to provide basic first-aid care for the children.

Pillar of Help: Protecting Young Boys from Abuse and Exploitation

Dee also works with Pillar of Help, a ministry founded in December of 2013. The project began as a way to teach migrant workers the best practices for travel and work safety across borders. Now it has expanded to include outreach and holistic care for the left-behind children, mostly boys living on the streets. In Cambodia, one out of every six boys is a victim of sexual abuse. Weak law enforcement, corruption, extreme poverty, and fractured social institutions due to the country’s turbulent recent history have left Cambodia with an unwelcome reputation for child trafficking and exploitation.

The Pillar of Help project encompasses both a preventative aspect and service for those who experience abuse. There are 60 individuals currently enrolled in the program:

  • Workshops and training throughout the rural areas of Cambodia target youth who may be at risk, regarding issues of personal security. Educational workshops are held wherever the boys are – in the villages and at a central community center.
  • Counselors actively attend to the boys, young men, their families and supporters, of diverse backgrounds, to ensure protection from sexual abuse and exploitation of any kind.
  • Dee helps to monitor the enrolled children in the community center, and their activities and grades in the public schools. If the children have not been attending school, program facilitators coordinate with parents or caretakers to resolve any issues.
  • Dee and her colleague offer Child Protection Awareness training in the surrounding schools, orphanages and churches.
  • A workshop called “Know Your Rights” focuses on rebuilding trust through rehabilitative caring sessions for abused victims. The program also provides a range of confidential, free, easily accessible and sensitive services for these individuals.

Bill's revision of Dee Dungy_982Dee shares: “Cambodian national treasures are not the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat or the Royal Palace, but are the valuable living treasures – the youth and the elderly.”

The Maryknoll Sisters Education Program for Orphans with HIV

In Cambodia, 48,775 children are unfortunately living in orphanages. Sister Mary Little, M.M. and Sister Ann Sherman, M.M. organize education for the most vulnerable of poor children in Cambodia through the Boeung Tum Pun Community and Education Project. Many of these children are orphans or HIV+.

Sister Mary Little, M.M. with one of her students at the pre-school she runs.

Sister Mary Little, M.M. with one of her students at the pre-school she runs.

The project gives hope to families in need that their children will have the chance for a better education and future.

Sister Mary runs a pre-school in Chak Angre, which helps prepare students to enter grade one with a knowledge of the Khmer language, alphabet and culture. The pre-school is only one part of the Boeung Tum Pun Project.

Sister Ann Sherman, M.M. with students from the English class she teaches.

Sister Ann Sherman, M.M. with students from the English class she teaches.

The project also helps support secondary school students. Sister Ann teaches English to students in grades three through six. Learning English is vital to these kids because it is considered key in finding a good job later.

In addition, the project provides health and nutrition classes in government schools and neighborhoods as well as two centers where children can play safely. The children’s centers are like an oasis here, says Sister Mary. “Children have the chance to make jigsaw puzzles, build houses or anything with Legos, dance and sing,” she says. “Since there are no books or toys in their houses, they love to come to just play and have a good time together.”

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Deaf Development Program
The only agency serving the general deaf population of Cambodia

pht-collaboration-fr-charles-dittmeier-with-boy-cambodiaThis is the heartbreaking reality: About 51,000 Cambodians are deaf and a half-million more are hard of hearing.

The average deaf person coming to Maryknoll for help is in his or her 20’s, has no language ability, has never been to school even for a day, and has never met another deaf person. That’s because fewer than 4% of deaf people in Cambodia receive services of any kind. Only 50-60 deaf Cambodians have finished high school.

“We begin with the intensive teaching of Cambodian Sign Language, then we offer two years of non-formal education. With these skills, deaf people can begin job training.” ~ Father Charles Dittmeier, M.M., Head of Maryknoll’s Deaf Development Program

Our program is labor-intensive and complex. It requires interpreters and supervisors to travel extensively to find deaf people, and then to raise awareness with village chiefs, local officials, parents, and the deaf themselves.

Slowly but surely, support at the local level is improving and awareness of the deaf has increased. Father Charles is especially hopeful for a new working relationship with the Cambodian government. His goal: more hires in Cambodia’s civil service.


The needs of the poor, the ailing and the marginalized in Cambodia have continued to grow at an alarming rate. In order to continue serving the Gospel with our dedicated partners (the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and the Maryknoll Sisters) we need your continued prayers and support. When families are in crisis, we extend two hands: one with the compassion of our God; the other with missions that alleviate the worst forms of poverty.

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All proceeds raised for this project will be evenly distributed between the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Maryknoll Sisters, and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.