Sunday, January 20, 2008

How Could Someone Do Something Like That?

If you met Marie, you’d be impressed with how sweet and gentle she is. What would make a parent sell a child like her to traffickers? How could someone do something like that?

Evil. Some parents are plain evil. That’s true on this side of the world as it is on the other side of the world. Evil is why some parents sell their children.

Desperation. Poverty causes people to do things that they never would consider otherwise. And for some parents, selling a child is a way out of the type of poverty that few of us have witnessed, except maybe from the comforts of our living room while watching TV. And then the remote control is always nearby when the images become too disturbing or boring. Poverty is why some parents sell their children.

And some parents sell their children in hope. Some, like any parent, want the best for their children. And when traffickers come to the village, they paint a picture of a better life. They claim to represent some wealthy patron looking for a nanny, housekeeper, or cook. Parents are told of a better life where their daughters will be safe, receive an education, live around privilege, and be able to send money home. And so they take the earnest money, sign the contract, and never see their children again.

At Rapha House, we’re committed to providing girls like Marie with real hope for a better life. And because we’re here, they find the hope that they’ve been looking for.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Long Road to Healing

Recently, I reported about Kvoe—the eleven-year-old girl who was labor trafficked to Thailand for nine months and ended up in a Thai prison. Three months later, she was brought to Rapha House. When our staff took her home, Kvoe was greeted with the horrific news that her mother had died, her house was gone, and her little sister Phea was missing. Kvoe was left all alone in the world.

Later, the Rapha staff revisited the region and found Kvoe’s little sister Phea. Like a stray animal, this nine-year-old girl had been scavenging in the village wherever she could find food and shelter.

But now the sisters have been reunited. They go to school together. They attend church together. And they play together with the other children at Rapha House.

A recent photograph shows Kvoe and Phea smiling. Their smiles say it all. In the midst of their suffering, these sisters have found hope.

We know that these girls have a long way to go. At times, they’ll be lonely. Some days they’ll miss their mother terribly. And they’ll shed more tears. Lots of tears. But Kvoe and Phea are no longer alone. They have each other. And they have the love and support of the kids and staff at Rapha. They have others to walk beside them on the long road to healing. That’s what we do at Rapha House.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

An Unpleasant Reality


Just outside the capital city of Phnom Penh, we have a ministry partner who runs an outreach to neighborhood children—a kids’ club. Many of these children come from extremely poor families.

Poverty causes people to do desperate things. Stephanie Freed, who currently is in Cambodia with a team from the US, reports the following in a recent email:

“Just a while ago, over a Coke, Thearin [a young women who leads the club] tearfully told me about one of the girls from the club (15 years old) who was sold to a Korean man. He bought her for $500 from her mother. He took her to a hotel for a week, where he and his friends took turns raping her.”

Five hundred dollars. That’s about a year’s wage for the average person in Cambodia.

And with one desperate, greedy decision made by a mother in Phnom Penh, a teenager’s life has changed forever.

Everything about this story sickens me. Then I realize. Nobody’s helped by my disgust, indignation or outrage. So I will channel my energies more productively. I will give. I will serve. I will write. I will pray. I will speak up and speak out. I will do whatever I can to relieve the suffering of survivors of trafficking and abuse and prevent other girls from becoming victims, too.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
--Edmund Burke