Sophie in Cambodia, 7/28/2009 and 7/31/2009

[Editor's note: these are based on emails from Sophie]

Jul 28, 2009- It is HOT here!

July 31, 2009-

Time has gone by fast since I arrived in Cambodia. It has been a very humbling experience to see our Savior's hands and footprints in this land. It is not easy to respond God's calling in our lives. Yet, I met many who step out in faith, love the locals, care for the poor, and reach out to the lost. God is in this place, and He is at work mightily.

Update on the Human trafficking issues:
As foreign pressure increases for the Cambodia government to crack down the brothels, a new form, behind the disguise of the entertainment industry, is showing up all over Cambodia. I see many massage parlors and beer gardens around town. As Helen from Chaib Dai explained to me, 90% of these businesses are involved in the sex industry. Since the law passed by the government only protects victims from brothels, women in the entertainment industry are not protected and are over looked.

As the US recession hits this country, approximate 60,000 women lost their jobs in the garment industry since last year. Many cannot return to their villages due to the lack of jobs there as well. As a result, they end up seeking work in the entertainment industry. You might think that these women are willing prostitutes, but most of them are trapped because of debt they owe to the owner.

Poverty is one root cause of human trafficking, and it is a huge problem here. Phnom Penh used to have about 500 slum communities, but these have been reduced to 100. However, this is not due to the increase in wealth. Rather, the government evicted the residents by force to create more space for private businesses and developments. Many poor families are now living outside of Phnom Penn with no means of employment or transportation to get to the markets. As a result, young women have no other choice but to enter the sex industry, sometimes being sold by their parents.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the massive needs of the people. One question that I am pondering is how we can play an offensive, instead of a defensive role, in fighting this issue? How can we stay of this evil, to prevent it from spreading, now and in the future?


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