Pastor discovers depth of Nelson’s desire to help

A group of 15 volunteers heads to Cambodia next month to help that country with issues stemming from human trafficking rings. To help raise funds for the projects to be undertaken, there will be a film night on Saturday. - Sam Van Schie photo
A group of 15 volunteers heads to Cambodia next month to help that country with issues stemming from human trafficking rings. To help raise funds for the projects to be undertaken, there will be a film night on Saturday.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

When Rob Rolleman had the idea of bringing a few Nelsonites with him to volunteer in Cambodia, he thought he’d maybe find one or two people interested.

But after the Eleos Centre Ministries pastor showed a documentary about young women and girls that fall victim to human trafficking rings in that country, he had 15 people offer to make the trip.

“It really stirred people,” Rolleman said, referring to the film screening last October. “Everyone just wants to do something to make life better for the children and youth who live in that environment [in Cambodia].”

The group leaves next month and will work with a Cambodia-based charity called Kone Kmeng (which means “children” in the Khmer language) to help educate youth in the boarder town of Phnom Penh who are at high risk of becoming involved in human trafficking.

Some of the group will go for four weeks, while others will just be there for the two weeks of spring break. While in Cambodia, they’ll be running a camp for 100 youth aimed at empowering them to be change makers in their own community, and they’ll build a boys dormitory at a school to make it easier for the boys to get an education.

There are also some nurses in the group who will offer health and hygiene education, while others will teach English communication skills.

“Everything is aimed at giving the kids options, so they don’t have to get into sex work as their only way to make money,”  Rolleman explained.

Everyone in the group is paying their own way to get to Cambodia and collecting donations to cover the project costs, estimated at $9,500.

Chara Rigby, principal at Nelson Christian Community School, will be joining the group along with her 17-year-old daughter for the two weeks during spring break.

Rigby said she’s eager to make a small difference in the lives of the Cambodians she’ll work with.

“Living in a developed country where we have everything at our fingertips, it’s nice to have an opportunity to share something with people less fortunate,” Rigby said.

Last spring break she went to Haiti to help out in that country.

“While you’re giving something of yourself, you also get so much back,” she said. “It’s just freeing to leave our busy lifestyle behind for awhile and go somewhere that the technology we have doesn’t seem to exist and everything is just a little slower paced,” Rigby said. “I’m looking forward to just being able to talk to people in the street and making connections and forming friendships.”

As a fundraiser for their projects, Rolleman has organized a second documentary screening for Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Nelson Covenant Church, 702 Stanley Street. He’ll be showing The Pink Room, which follows a girl forced into sex slavery in Cambodia who is determined to find a way out of it. Admission to see the film is by donation. A trailer of the film is available at

Anyone interested in making a donation to the project can contact Rob Rolleman at the Eleos Centre, 250-352-0300.



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