As many times as life has allowed me to pass through SE Asia alongside Hope For the Silent Voices – I never cease to become smitten with some adorable children who own ridiculous stories of their lives.
This photo is of sweet little, eight year old Srey Liep.
One of the beautiful aspects of taking these Impact Trips with an array of world impacters is that there is such unprecedented access to hardships. And the children who endure them! This little girl was met one evening asking for money. Instead of giving money it is often better to provide some type of nourishment as these little “slaves” seldom reap any benefit.
Srey Liep’s hardship began a couple of years back when her parents abandoned her and her younger brother. They were left to the care of a grandmother who sends her out nightly to beg and wander the sketchy tourist areas late into the night – always subject to being preyed upon by the wandering scum or assorted predators. Sadly, this is so commonplace in Cambodia where children are drugged, maimed and sexually exploited for the benefit of those willing to diminish these precious souls.
Having arrived at our guesthouse for the night we sat on the sidewalk patio watching the melting pot of activity take place in front of our eyes. On both sides of us were bars overflowing with girls waiting on the potential customer to pay the standard $5 bar fee and take them elsewhere for an hour or night of spirit-destructing sex (or whatever else for that matter). As most reader’s children would be snuggly tucked in their beds safely this little girl happened to walk by at nearly 10:30 PM – barefoot and alone. A street I urge our Impact Trip participants to take great caution walking happens to be the very path this way too street-savvy child walks to go home late at night.
Shocked to see Srey Liep walk by we asked if she would sit with us. She obliged and we were able to put a banana shake and some fried rice in her belly and learn a little more about her.
She had eaten earlier in the day but devoured the shake so fast her earlier meal couldn’t have been very substantial. Worried about keeping grandma waiting for the money and needing to go to sleep a couple of us felt that paternal spirit and need to accompany her to the dark alley that led to her home. She was reluctant to allow us to meet her grandma and instead said we could meet again near the Paragon Hotel. I remind you this is an 8 year old arranging for a meeting in a safer location than her home in order to keep things peaceful there. This is not the mind of an older, seasoned negotiator but rather the mind of a girl whose age is still in the single digits but forced to think and fend for herself as an adult. She is just one of countless in this country and around the world whose voice is not heard. It is not counted. It is the silent voice of exploitation. And we the fortunate few need to take better ownership in the lives of those just like her enduring neglect on a daily basis. With such a resourced world, is it now time to accept that this is one of the many injustices taking place and now play a part in the livelihood of the vulnerable? I say “Yes!”
This is one of those true hardships in the developing world of watching the adolescent years evaporate as parent(s) decide they cannot, will not or choose not to care for the innocent life they brought into this world. So step aside if you are more inclined to diminish a life and not properly care for it. But do the decent thing and ensure the child is introduced to a proper facility or family where nurturing may have a better chance of happening. And this point opens a whole other can of issues to be addressed later. So as a bed-time approached and faded long into the rear-view of the night we accompanied our dear Srey Liep to her darkened alley and watched as she disappeared into the grasp of the blackness leading to her dwelling.
May God grant this child grace for yet another day!
So those of you wondering how your resources are being utilized and what the Impact Trip participants are involved in – take solace in knowing vulnerable children are being fed; their well-being monitored whenever possible; kids are being given the opportunity to walk through the doors of a school for the first time; the exploited are being tended to and you are having a direct effect in the livelihood of the these voiceless.
And to those who are perpetrating what was perhaps once done to you, I say “I am truly sorry for the years of your life that were destroyed.” I also say, “Come clean quickly because if you are caught the act will be addressed and addressed with justifiable consequences.” This is a tremendously serious global epidemic which daily extinguishes the lives of precious youth abroad and right under your very nose where you sit. No longer can one assume it happens elsewhere. Somewhere, somehow there is a child in the crosshairs of those wishing, willing and capable of of doing grave harm to them physically, emotionally and spiritually. And these are the very little souls we birth into the world of whom we are ALL supposed to nurture AND protect. Will you join us and support Hope For the Silent Voices and continue allowing us to “bring a voice to the vulnerable.”
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