When I first arrived in Poipet, I couldn’t believe how hectic life was! There were people everywhere, both young and old pulling carts to take their produce to the markets or to the border for trade. I will never forget the smells; a mixture of livestock, open sewers, various types of waste and the heat making it worse!
When we passed through border control, we were met by employees from CHO. They took us to our hotel and after lunch we were out in rural Cambodia checking out some of the projects CHO run. The project which sticks out in my mind the most was the ‘School-on-a-Mat’, it consisted of one rug on the floor by the side of the road, with 30 young children being taught by a volunteer teacher.
It was evident this project was so vital to giving these children a chance of success and hope. It got me thinking about how lucky we are back here in the UK.
The following day we visited CHO’s village, called ‘Safe Haven’. Here they have a school building and accommodation for young children who have been or who are at risk of being trafficked. The school has a woodwork shop and livestock farm in order to teach the children a trade. I was blown away at how skilled these children were, some as young as 9yrs were producing beautiful woodwork sculptures to take and sell at the local market. All the money which they make from their woodwork goes into a savings account for when they leave Safe Haven, this is so they have money to live and start up their own business…Not only genius, but life-changing!!!
We weren’t in Cambodia very long, which is gutting. On my way through border control I saw a young boy begging, he couldn’t have been a day past 4yrs. He was small, skinny and had no emotion on his face. The young boy was sat on the floor with a cup, waiting for people to give him money. To my right there was a man watching his every move, it was suggested that this child was owned by this man and being used to beg, exploited. Instead of giving him money, I gave him a bottle of water; he was too weak to open it by himself and I found myself nearly in tears because all he needed was someone to really take care of him and help him escape the world he’s in. This is why organisations like CHO are so important.
Sometimes, we experience things that change us and since coming back from Cambodia, it feels like God has put a massive calling on my heart to be a voice for these young people and do everything in my power to see projects like CHO run and grow, giving these young people a hope and a future.