We came back from Kep a couple of days ago and yesterday we spent the whole day at Daughters Cambodia. Daughters is located in Stung Meanchey the slum area in Phnom Penh. As of July 2008, 70 girls have left the sex industry to join Daughters’ full time. Typically they are uneducated and come from poor and dysfunctional families who live off their earnings, and who have usually been instrumental in selling them in the first place.
Each morning Daughters provides a drop in center for kids whose mothers work in the local brothel areas. Many of these kids live in the brothels with their mothers and are subject to abuse and see things that no child should see nor experience. I can't even imagine what it must be like for them to live in such an environment. The kids range in age from 9 months to about 12 years old and yesterday we had about 17 kids at the centre. We spent time making puppets with them and then performed little skits with the puppets. We also managed to use a few of the games that we did at Rahab house which brought a lot of laughter and smiles to their little faces. For me one of the greatest highlights of the morning was handing out t-shirts with a Canada logo that we had bought from home and also giving a teddy bear made by the seniors from our church. I wish I could have taken a photo to show you all (unfortunately no photos are allowed) the pure joy that came upon these little faces as they discovered that they would be each getting their own t-shirt and teddy bear. Their faces lit up with excitement and squeals of laughter as they each came forward to receive their gifts. In North America it is so easy to take for granted the gifts we give to others but here, these small gifts carry so much more meaning to children who are not used to receiving anything but who often find themselves begging or being beaten. Their reactions serve to remind me that we all long to feel special, to be valued, to be loved and to be treasured. So often God uses little children like these to teach us some of the most important lessons of life.
In the afternoon session, I was asked to prepare a 30 minute talk about budgetting to the young women who are former prostitutes,I was quite excited when Ruth the director asked if I could do this but when she commented that these women have no concept of what it means to add, subtract, divide and multiply, I realize that this was going to be no easy task. Most of these women have received no education so their level of understanding and comprehending any concepts is quite limited. So how does someone like me who is totally left brain and who is used to dealing with stock investments prepare for such a presentation! You pray desperate prayers! Thankfully, God answered through one of teacher teammates Genie who came to my rescue as God inspired her to use a drama skit related to sowing and reaping. Overnight, He also gave me some impressions related to the parable of talents and so we created a skit about two sisters ---one who was a wise planner and the other who lived for today. We have learned from our two young friends at AIM4Asia, that in the Cambodian context, dramas and skits work well as the visuals have a way of conveying messages that words cannot especially if one has limited language skills.
Thankfully the skit seem to speak to the young womens hearts as the responses and questions we got from them afterwards were quite interesting. One young woman mentioned that God had given her a dream that was similar to the skit that we did to help her to understand what it means to save money. Another girl commented that the skit taught her the importance of thinking about her future and not just for today. We are grateful for this little feedback as we trust that God will continue to use the images from this skit to impact the lives of these young women so that they will discover that God has a plan and purpose for their lives that is beyond just being a survivor from the day to day challenges of living under such difficult conditions to one that involves a hope and a future. Our time ended with us handing out more Canadian t-shirts, a teddy bear and a food packet for each girl.
I am grateful for this brief glimpse of what the Lord is doing through this organization. As I looked at the faces of the many young women who have chosen to leave a life of prostitution, I am reminded afresh that it is for these whom Jesus came to make something beautiful out of their broken lives. No matter what each has done, where they have been, He has come to cleanse them and make them whole again, white as snow. I look forward to seeing how He will bestow a crown of beauty for the ashes in each of them as their future enfolds.