“In April 1985 I applied for a job with Christian Outreach (Cord’s former name) for a nurse on the Thai-Cambodian border. Five weeks later I was flying out there. I had watched the film 'Killing Fields' a week before I went and felt completely overwhelmed by the brutality and cruelty of what had happened. I felt a little scared and inadequate but, it was too late; I had said I would go. My role was to help in a mother and child health clinic, doing monthly check-ups on 4,000 children under fives along with teaching health care to local clinic workers.

My memories of my first day, over 30 years ago, was of getting up early, packing the truck with all the equipment and collecting vaccines from a UN pharmacy, buying ice chopped from a big block at the road side to keep them cold. We drove for an hour along dusty, bumpy roads, passing through two army checkpoints to enter the military zone. The camp had recently been shelled, so was in the process of being rebuilt in a new location. Not only were these people refugees, they were still under attack and had to move homes again.

Our clinic was a hut with a roof and bamboo sides, but nothing else. We were greeted with amazing smiles and warm welcomes and help to empty the trucks and set up the clinics. Over the months the clinics were finished and we were able to leave the equipment there at night. Life carried on in the camp. There were bike shops, hairdressers, coffee shops. Weddings and baptisms took place. The head of our clinic was a Christian and there was a church in the camp.

Two of the babies that I remember had cleft palates and could not feed. The babies had to be fed milk powder with a cup and spoon. Milk powder was not normally given out due to the risks of unsterilised bottles; but it was the only option for these babies. Occasionally a surgeon would come from Bangkok and these two babies were on the waiting list for surgery.

I also remember a little baby who only weighed 1.5kg. His mother would put him on the end of her foot; pour a little water over him and when the baby cried she would drop milk into his mouth. She said that he had stopped breathing but she rubbed him and he breathed again. Incredible that this baby survived.

Babies under 2.5 kg were given knitted jackets and hats that were sent out from the UK. It was lovely to know that we had support from the ladies back home who had knitted this clothing and to send back photographs.

Six months later the UN decided to combine all the camps into one large camp known as Site 2. The result was that Christian Outreach and partner; YWAM, had care of all the under 5 clinics and our responsibility increased to 15,000 children.

I love the fact that Christian Outreach started off with one church praying to help one or two children. All our team were supported by prayer by our home churches. Now we have many supporters praying for the work of Cord. As a result of helping just a few, we have helped thousands. I feel so privileged to have been involved.” 

Anne Bailey, August 2017.

This period in Cord’s history reflects a shift in focus from helping children in orphanages, to working with families affected by brutal conflict and forced to settle in refugee camps by responding to their immediate needs such as food and health care.

Cord continues to support the vulnerable and the marginalised and seeks to reduce poverty by reducing all forms of violence. The essence of love and compassion shared for those in refugee camps – remains at the heart of our work today.