Imagine never feeling safe. Imagine never having that place where you totally relax and feel completely secure. For most of us, thankfully, this is merely a mental exercise. But for many impoverished girls and women in Cambodia, it’s a daily reality.
Last summer, my daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia with CGI and a group from Grace Church. The stories from that trip are many and my observations are probably similar to most others. Yes, I was appalled at the pervasiveness of human trafficking. Yes, I was overwhelmed by the extreme and rampant poverty, and experiencing that poverty first hand was truly indescribable. However, after being home for several months and reflecting on my time there, one thing made a lasting impression: the total absence of a safe environment.
Particularly when you’re a child, you should have that “safe place”. Unfortunately, the children of Cambodia don’t have such a safe place and too frequently don’t have people to protect them. It is so difficult to convey in words their living conditions. Their homes would not qualify as such by our standards. Their walls are made from salvaged pieces of wood, metal, and cloth that have been pieced together. There is no security or sense of safety. Generally, anyone at any time has access to these children. Add to this the violence and criminal activity that pervades these poverty-stricken areas and you start to get a feel for the world they live in.
The question becomes – what can we do? Most of us were fortunate enough to be born in the United States where we have safety nets to assist those in poverty, an imperfect but great legal system, and a culture that arguably supports the family. These girls and women were not. CGI promotes change in the best possible way. It empowers the girls and women through training, education, and spiritual development. I met these girls and women, and saw the real difference CGI has made in their lives. The women in CGI’s programs are coming to realize that they have the ability to control their lives and that they are special and valued.
So…. NOW imagine. Imagine the differences that could be made in so many lives if we all made it a priority to assist these girls and women in whatever ways God may lead us. The possibilities, like His love and grace, are limitless.
Julie and her daughter with Tavi in Cambodia
By Julie Payne