Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cambodia ~ Red Light District

I am in Cambodia - can hardly believe it, as I more or less vowed I would never again go on a "mission trip".  I kind of signed up for this trip, not realizing how missional it was going to be, but am deeply moved by the opportunities I have had to visit the poor in this nation.  Destiny and I have had a very full schedule and have seen so much in just one week.  Our highlights have been to the XP children's home, the Extreme Love Children's school, House of prayer in the slums, food delivery to students in XP educational program, XP's girls/women business venture, slum outreach, etc.  Out of all of these activities this last week, the one I want to highlight and that I think I am free to speak of without confidentiality issues, is the outreach I had tonight to the Red Light District.  I would say it was one of the most heartbreaking outreaches in my life . . .
One of the slums XP has a Light House in 
I did not take many pictures as I did not want to encroach on the privacy of the girls we reached out to tonight, but let me tell you that many of them did not look any older than my daughter.  In fact one of them looked so much like my foster daughter, my eyes filled with tears - it hit a little too close to home.

Our evening started with some filming of the Red Light District for a media project.  Then when we realized the necklaces we wanted to give the girls on the streets had been forgotten we decided to buy some rice and noodle dishes and take them around to the girls.  I was so excited when our leader decided to return to an area of the district that I had been pulled to when we drove by.  It was a dark road with very little street lighting and girls that looked my daughter's age were standing about a block away from each other, one after another.  We stopped and offered them a meal, as some of the girls, have not eaten for days.   Then our Kami interpreter and leader would began to converse with the girls, sometimes ask if they wanted us to pray for them.

Let me tell you about the two girls who's stories touched me deeply.  The first girl asked for prayer for her neck and arms.  She was timid and quiet, small, petite and looked like my daughter  Destiny's age.  She had not eaten yet today.  On her throat was a big, raw, wide scar - she told us that during one of her "customer" visits they threw acid on her face - she turned her face away and it went all over her throat and arms.  She was in pain.  She said she knew Jesus and wanted us to pray for her.  I prayed for her - not knowing the results as we had to leave and move on.

Child selling food on streets
in the late hours of the night
The other girl who's story moved me, said that she just had customers that picked her up and took her far away, they had masks on, forced her into acts and did not pay her.  I believe she referred to them as "gang".    She broke down and begin to cry when our friend, took her hand and held it.  The interpreter and friend ministered to her in conversation and prayer as she had just been through a large trauma and was back on the streets working right after it happened.

These girls could be selling their bodies for survival.  They could be trafficked.  Some girls were drunk, high and scared.  We had 20 boxes of rice and gave them all away, and could have easily handed out 20 more.  We told the girls that God loved them and wanted to feed them tonight.

I know the stories, the raw details and fundamentals of sex trafficking but to see children sitting on the side of street corners and standing in the shadows, that were so close in age to my kids or anybody's kids for that matter, was heartbreaking.  The deeply disturbing part was the white men,  middle aged or seniors who were walking the streets.  At that time of night, the only thing they were there for was to buy sex from these girls.  I saw a few old men leading girls away and the girls were not happy.  One man when he saw our camera hid his face with an extreme effort to conceal his identity.  There can be foreign men who have great credibility and influence in the state or other countries who are walking these streets preying on the women and girls.

Then the ladies who work the streets and have children, will leave their little children unattended on the streets while they "work" and this opens them up to be prey to petifiles, abuse and at times kidnapping for the purpose of exploitation.

These scenes are heartbreaking.  XP can only do so much and has partnered with other NGO's in the city to help.  Of course I just want to scoop up the girls and rescue them right then and there.
Destiny Praying With a Lady Who Could Not Even Sit Up To Drink Water We Gave Her
Well, that is just a tidbit of what we have been doing in Cambodia.  Destiny did not go the District due to the late hours of the night, but has been such an incredible trooper at walking the slums on rickety boards, the stench of sewer, humidity that is overwhelming and reaching out to the children and people with love.

God is on the move in Cambodia.  There must be restitution for the horrific Khmer Regime - there must be a new day dawning on this nation who's vulnerable ones -  definitely have God's attention.