Our story begins 20 years ago in a slum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Craig Greenfield, the founder of Alongsiders International, left a corporate career and moved into a Cambodian slum. Together with his wife Nay, Craig began working with poor families devastated by AIDS, so that children who had lost their parents were not taken away from everyone else they knew and loved as well.
But as they grew close to many of the orphans who were their neighbours, Craig and Nay were frustrated that they could only personally reach a handful of children with the type of intense nurture, love, coaching, encouragement, mentoring and discipleship that would transform their lives.
Recognizing that you cannot buy love, they decided that more paid staff was not the answer. Instead, Craig began to pray for a volunteer movement of young Cambodian Christians to rise up from within the Church to reach the tens of thousands of marginalised children all across the country. This movement would be entirely reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit in people's hearts, rather than financial incentives. And it would not be dependent on outsiders, but would truly be a movement of the poor helping the poor.
The movement started with just ten young Christians. They made lots of mistakes and made even more changes. But gradually, by God's grace, they began to identify the keys to seeing such a movement take hold and go the distance. In 2003 Alongsiders Cambodia was born.