October 19, 2008
After a 6 hour bus ride through rice fields and jungle forest, we finally made it to the modern city of Siem Reap. Much of the sex trade has moved up here due to the large numbers of foreign tourists who frequent this region to visit the ancient city of Angkor Wat (and increases pressure in Phnom Penh). The over abundance of foreigners and the extreme lack of governmental control has provided a virtual safe haven for brothels and pimps to offer enslaved children and women alike up daily, and even hourly, for rape and torture.
We are connecting with two of the pastors up here who have been going after the trafficking of children wholesale. The church in this country is really starting to work together with NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations) to identify, assess, report and prevent sex trafficking. Their passion and commitment to saving these girls, irregardless of what it may cost them financially and physically, is humbling to say the least.
Please keep these children in your thoughts and prayers as they are in desperate need of rescue, intensive aftercare, healing, and effective reintegration.
October 18, 2008
We are heading on up to Siem Reap tomorrow for a few days. Not sure what our internet connection will be like.
We filmed at one of the killing fields today. Just imagine a 7 story building full of skulls. It was quite surreal. Walking around the actual fields, we saw clothes that were getting exposed by erosion. Moses let us know that those were the clothes of the people who had been killed 30 years ago. Again, very surreal. I can not begin to imagine what it was like for people living during those times.
We also filmed a segment with Clay tonight where he took us on a drive by tour of some of the brothels in Phnom Penh.
Well, time for bed. Getting up early to catch our bus!!
Good night (or rather, good morning to all my family and friends back home).
October 17, 2008
Greetings from Cambodia again!
We just finished our first interview with Don at the restoration center and it all went really well. He was gracious enough for us to recount some of the horror stories from the girls testimonies. It’s been amazing to see the joy on these girls faces after hearing the atrocities they’ve been through. But God is good and He is continually restoring them to wholeness through this ministry. It’s also been a joy for us as well to witness their transformation.
Moses, Don, Bridget, and Clay attended meeting today with some government officials as part of an ongoing relationship to work with the country in providing humanitarian needs for Cambodia. They seemed very happy with the work of AIM and spoke very highly of Don, Bridget, Clay and Moses. We were allowed to video tape the meeting which may or may not make it into the documentary, but good content nonetheless. For our morning before the meeting, Samantha, Moses’ wife, took Seth, Bridget and I to the market to buy nice clothes for the meeting. Were talking $1.25 for a nice silk tie! Not a bad deal!
Tomorrow we interview Moses and we feel this is a key interview, as he is very much a part of the documentary, but more importantly, the vision of AIM. Please continue to pray for us as we follow His leading,
October 16, 2008
After a day of letting the dust settle on my thoughts (and emotions), I believe that I was to harsh on the group that I had met. I do not know the entirety of what they are doing out here and I was quick to judge their actions. That is not my place. I was wrong to do so.
I do however want to make it clear that I still feel very strongly about everything I wrote in the last post (I just should have left the group of people out is all). I believe it is critical for us back in the states to partner up with organizations and churches out here that are already making a difference and to figure out how to support them as best as possible. I do not think it wise to have hundreds of tiny organizations (or simply groups of people) who are all competing against one another to complete the same task. I believe that is counter productive. Individual accolades are not important. These girls lives are.
Please pray for the rest of our trip. We have less than a week left and want to make sure that we come home with all the footage necessary to complete this project. God has it all planned out. We just need to follow Him.
October 15, 2008
We met a group of about 6 young people (in their 20’s) from the states the other night. They were a nice group of people. They had come out to Cambodia for a month because they wanted to do something to help. If I remember right, this was not their first trip and they have been coming to Cambodia for a number of years now doing what they called “exploratory” trips to see what they could do to help (I am really trying to not be judgemental here but whats the point of endless exploratory trips?). They were helping out at another recovery center called Hagar and were going to head on up to Siem Riep for a bit to work with a few people who have pulled in about 5 to 6 girls and are taking care of them.
Now I want to start this off by saying that each and every one of these people were ernest in their desire to help and wanted nothing more than to see Sex Trafficking end in this country. But after my short stay here, I must admit that they are going about it in a totally waste full and unproductive way. Their limited stay will not provide much benefit other than to probably make some emotional connections with the girls that are destined to be ripped apart when they leave. This only reinforces the girls past trauma of constantly making emotional (and grossly sexual) connections with men who say they love them but leave after they have had their fill of them. These girls need a family (preferably Cambodian) that loves them unconditionally and protects them, not a white persons hug.
Secondly, their air fair alone probably came out to about $10,000. Couple that with their living expenses out here and that number can easily reach $15,000. The average Cambodian will make $30 a month. Just do the math. I personally would not be here at all except for the fact that I truly believe that what we are doing out here will bring in millions of dollars to help keep these centers running as well as build new ones. My suggestion would be to find an organization who is already doing a great job and supporting them with that 15k.
There is also a false notion that the war against trafficking is being won. This is not the case at this point in time. Although trafficking has had a visible decrease, this does not mean that it has slowed down, but that it has only gone underground. The war against trafficking has only just begun.
Lastly, a friend of mine has just reminded me of a documentary on trafficking that is just coming out in theatres titled “call + response” (if I remember correctly). While I am glad that this documentary is bringing more awareness to the issue, it is also offering up foolish methods of fighting it. This includes buying girls out of these brothels. Those girls will just end up right back where they were and the pimps will have made extra cash. I would write more on what should be done to help, but I already have done so in other posts and it is getting late.
I want to finish off buy reiterating that the group of young people that we met were great people. I have no problems with them, just their methods.
Again, thanks for your prayers. God bless.
October 15, 2008
It was a good day. Fealt really long though. We interviewed a number of people from IJM and that went really well. We’ve got more interviews in the morning.
We have a potential opportunity to be a part of (and film) something very significant next week but we are not sure if it will work out yet. I can not say any more than that at this time. Please pray that the doors would open that should be open and that the doors would close that should be closed (my personal preference is to be a part of this event though).
Thanks so much (again) for all your support. Blessings!
October 13, 2008
Micah and I got our grand tour of ARC (the restoration center) today and it truly is amazing! It is beautiful. The one thing that caught my attention most of all was how young these girls are. They really ARE just children (there is a 5 year old at the center). I guess I knew this fact in my mind but I guess the reality had not really hit me until today.
We also interviewed two more girls which went well. It was a full day. Thanks again for all your prayers!!