Another highlight of our trip was visiting The Daughters Project in Phnom Penh. We had heard about this project for while, since a friend of ours was one of its founders! However, being there in person was a whole different story.
The project is a vocational training program for girls at risk of or recovering from exploitation by human trafficking. They make prom dresses designed by our friend Nicole (who is amazing!), which are then sold in her friend’s bridal and prom store in Indianapolis. (Like the Green Mango Café, it’s another story of people using their skills and talents globally with the help of Center for Global Impact.)
Meeting these girls made a huge impression on us. They are overwhelmingly sweet, kind and welcoming! They made us feel right at home the moment we arrived at their workshop.
However, this was one of the hardest parts of the trip for us as well. Hearing about how some of the girls we were spending time with were literally moments away from being sold by their families was truly heartbreaking.
In Cambodia, families that are in desperate poverty are sometimes willing sell their daughters to earn money (other times, families are also tricked into this kind of “opportunity” thinking it is a legitimate job).
It’s one thing to know that these things are happening, but to meet people that it affects is a whole different story. As a woman, it’s an especially hard reality for me to swallow. It’s difficult to find words to express the ache in my heart as I think of these women and others around the world that have been affected by this issue.
The encouraging thing is that this program identifies girls through relationships in the community, and provides a way to give them hope for a different future! The girls live together in a safe house and are able to share life and meals together, when they’re not at the workshop. They have some beautiful green space to relax outside of the city.
On a side note, we got to visit the girls’ house and had the most delicious lunch we had anywhere (outside of the Green Mango Café, of course!). Fried rice, vegetable spring rolls, vegetable curry (with my new favorite, cassava!), and stir fried veggies, with fresh fruit for dessert.
These girls have made a strong impression on us. We’re completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the problem, and how many other women out there are affected, each with her own story. But like any problem, the first step is making a difference for one, two, or even ten women.
As we’ve been wrestling with this, we’ve been looking for the good. We’re encouraged to meet women whose lives have been changed. Conversations with these girls show that their lives are much different than before. They enjoy living together, and are now making plans for the future, like sewing or working in shops.
We’re also encouraged about how God is working through people who are using their energy and resources to help. There’s no way to know for sure, but these stories can now have endings of hope – not of perfect lives, but of a profoundly different future.
CGI and The Daughters Project
The Daughter’s Project is in its second year at Center for Global Impact (CGI). We’re excited to start supporting this program through our blog (more on that soon!). If you feel called to become involved or know more, go to www.myCGIstory.com or http://www.cgidaughters.com.