Monday, February 20, 2012

My Teacher at Rapha House

While sitting in the air conditioning of our finance office, I strike up a conversation with Dailyn. She's a Rapha House girl who has been with us for years and is now interning as an Assistant Bookkeeper.

I remark about how far she has come. And in true Khmer form, she says without pride, "I know." Then she adds completely out of left field, "But my father hates me."

I pull my chair alongside her desk. We chat briefly about her family. Then I ask her, "Since you are a good girl, and your father hates you, who has the problem?" Without a moment's hesitation, she replies, "He does."

She then adds, "My teacher here at Rapha House taught me that every night before I go to bed to give all my troubles to God. So that's what I do." In that moment I realize she has just become my teacher at Rapha House.

That's the way things go here. Right when I think I'm the one teaching these children, they turn the tables on me and remind me of how much I've yet to learn.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trafficking Statistics

Recently, I stumbled across a website that questions some of the common statistics used by anti-trafficking organizations. And that got me thinking.

I think that it's good to be a critical thinker and not just parrot everything you hear from authorities. Yes, I'm a product of the "Question Authority" generation. But since then, I've grown a little wiser. And when people tell me to question authority, I always ask, "Who says?"

You see, we all rely on some authority for the beliefs and conclusions that we've drawn. After all, I don't have the time nor the funding to do a fancy study to determine the exact statistics about the scope of trafficking both here in the US and abroad. And I would hazard a guess that even those folks questioning the statistics don't have much good solid data to back up their skepticism.

That brings me to another point. I would think that truly reliable statistics on such issues would be extremely hard to come by. After all, how many traffickers are going to sign up for that survey? "Please check the number of persons you've trafficked over the last twelve months: [ ] 1 - 10 [ ] 11 - 50 [ ] 51 - 200…" You get the point.

So when it comes to statistics, I honestly think that there's a lot of Kentucky Windage involved in computing them on both sides of the debate. However, a lot of the folks passing along the common statistics that you hear are good folks with feet on the ground doing the work to help victims, including children who are being exploited for labor and commercial sex work.

Here's one thing I do know. I've met children who have been exploited for labor and commercial sex work. They are in programs that I serve as a volunteer. And I've decided the most important number when it comes to trafficking statistics is the number 1. For me, one child slave is one too many. And as long as one child (for that matter, one adult) is exploited this way, I will work to fight trafficking.

Let me offer this challenge to the statistic skeptics: Do something meaningful to help one traffic person. Volunteer some of your time. Donate just a portion of your money to the cause. Speak out against this injustice. And go ahead and be skeptical. Just don't be someone who offers nothing to this fight other than your criticism.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jewelry Program at Rapha House

Our “NEW LIFE by design” training program equips survivors of trafficking with the skills to make exotic, one-of-a-kind jewelry designs. The Rapha girls that are preparing to graduate from our safehouse need a dignified way to support themselves. We are hiring a professional trainer to teach these girls jewelry making skills. And we need your help

We are asking you to look through your collection of long ignored jewelry with an eye to give it new life. That one remaining crystal earring, the necklace with great beads you’ve been intending to fix, that unusual bracelet with the broken clasp, or maybe a piece you never got around to wearing—these all can find new life!

Send your jewelry donation to Rapha House, Attn: Opal Singleton, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. And we’ll bring new life to your old jewelry.

Maybe you’re a bead collector or bead maker. A gift of your beads can be a great way to bring new life to a rescued girl giving her a chance to support herself once she leaves our safehouse.

Spread the word. Tell your mother, sisters, daughters, and friends. Tell your Sunday school class, women’s group, or sorority. Host a “NEW LIFE by design” party and invite guests to bring their old jewelry. Tell those who attend about child trafficking and Rapha House.

Collect your old jewelry; put it in a baggie; and then send it to us. Be sure to include any special stories associated with the pieces that you send.

Send your jewelry donation to Rapha House, Attn: Opal Singleton, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. And we’ll bring new life to your old jewelry.

If you wish, make a financial contribution to help this project. Donations will help us secure equipment and supplies, as well as compensate our trainer. We appreciate you investment in the future of our girls.

For more information email Opal Singleton at

To you it’s old jewelry, to her it’s a chance to for a NEW LIFE by design.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Celebrate With Us!

Because of your partnership, Rapha House was able to purchase the land for our second safe house! Please continue to pray with us as we embark on the next phase of this project. We will continue to keep you updated.

Thank you for partnering with us to show the Rapha girls that they are greatly loved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

8-year-old Burn Victim Gets Surgery

By Stephanie Freed

Please pray for little eight year old Sokpong. She is the little sister of one of our Rapha girls.

During a social work visit with her family, it was discovered that Sokpong had been horribly burned a few years ago; and instead of seeking medical help, her arm was wrapped to her torso by her mother. Subsequently, her arm actually grew to her torso and she has been unable to move her shoulder and arm for years. This little girl has lived a life of great pain.

When presented with this information from our native staff, a US staff member made it her mission to find medical help for little Sokpong to have the necessary surgery to separate her shoulder from her torso. Finally, after a long period of tireless knocking on doors, a wonderful foreign doctor did the operation in Cambodia.

Sokpong will endure more surgery and a long period of recovery. Please pray for her as she is in excruciating pain in the native hospital where the operation was done. We will update you as we receive updates. We are thankful to have the opportunity to reach out to the families of our girls, and be a part of their healing and hope as well.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Feliz Navidad Cambodian Style

Now that's something that I never expected to hear—the song Feliz Navidad sung in Khmer (Cambodian).

Just before Christmas, my wife and I talked via Skype to some of our girls in our program. Our translator said that they wanted to sing us a song. We agreed. And that's when it happened. The girls broke out into their rendition of Feliz Navidad. Amazing.

What else was amazing is the gratitude that the girls expressed for the small Christmas gifts they received. Many of them said that this was their first time ever to receive a Christmas gift. That's humbling.

It's nearing the end of the year, and we're asking you to consider making more small miracles like this to come true.

You can help us purchase the land for our second safehouse in Cambodia. All it takes is $7 per square meter to purchase a piece of freedom for a girl who has been rescued from trafficking.

For the past few years, we have been renting facilities for our second safe house. This rented facility cannot fully meet the needs of our children. So we are turning to you for help.

Recently, God opened a door of possibility for us in this location. Land prices in this high tourist destination are extremely high. And we knew that without a miracle we would never be able to afford property there. But it looks like we have our miracle. Another Christian organization that loves our work has offered to sell us a parcel of their land at a reduced price. The cost is $70,000. So for $7 per square meter, you can help us purchase this 100m x 100m piece of property. Purchase a piece of freedom. Invest in the lives of our Rapha girls. They’re worth it!

1 square meter = $7
5 square meters = $35
10 square meters = $70
100 square meters = $100

We need to raise enough money to purchase all 10,000 square meters. And with your help, we can!

We offer you two secure ways to give using our website or our Mogiv page.

Feliz Navidad. Prospero año y felicidad!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Monkeys

We received this cryptic message from our Cambodian Director the other day: “The little monkey is now at the safehouse with the big monkey; they are very happy.”

Insiders know what he’s talking about. Let me explain.

“Monkey” is the nickname of the girl that’s featured in our prison visit video. Perhaps you saw it at

In that video, you see Monkey’s little sister. She was living at the prison where her mother is incarcerated for human trafficking of children.

It took the intervention of a human rights organization. But the “little monkey” has now been set free and is reunited with her big sister.

Currently, we are looking for a foster family in Cambodia to raise this precious little girl. Pray that we’ll be successful.

With the holiday season upon us, consider giving the gift of freedom. We are purchasing a $70,000 parcel of land for a permanent home for our second safehouse in Cambodia. We need $200,000 for land for our Thailand operations. And $180,000 is needed to start construction of the Cambodian facility. Every dollar you give to these projects is a long-term investment in freedom. And few gifts are more precious to give.