Friday, October 12, 2012

Exchanging One Darkness for Another

A few weeks ago we ventured down to a beach town on the coast of Cambodia for some rest. We anticipated some time to read, reflect and enjoy some space away from the darkness that we work in each day in Svay Pak. But we were also aware that this particular beach town is notorious for prostitution. It is a haven for foreign men to visit for all the wrong reasons. With all of this mind, we set off.

On our first evening there, we wandered to a small restaurant that a friend had recommended, a nice little place located in the heart of the tourist district. When we sat down, we immediately saw a Western man with a Cambodian girl at the next table, about 5 feet from us. We could tell by her dress and mannerisms that the young girl worked in prostitution and the 20-something-year old man was clearly in town for a good time. They spent the entirety of our meal flirting and kissing and petting. As we prepared to depart, Kim began to engage the young lady in some simple conversation in Khmer. She told us that she was twenty years old and had been working in this area for two months. A few minutes later the man paid for the meal, kissed the girl goodbye and left. The girl went in the opposite direction.

Next door to our restaurant, two elderly white men were carousing with young Khmer women while we ate. Across the street, the same thing. Rinse and repeat.

It was impossible to go anywhere in this town without seeing something that made us want to either vomit or hit somebody.

As we walked away, our hearts broke for her and her situation. We have no idea what prompted her to take this path. We do not know if she is indeed 20. She looked no older than 16. And we do not know what her future holds.

We left Phnom Penh to get away from the daily darkness only to be confronted with the story of one young lady that is in a terribly difficult situation. She has been in our thoughts and prayers each day since our return and still we have no answers. We have asked friends and teachers about what can be done and they sadly shake their heads and seem to resign themselves to this reality. We continue to pray. We continue in our work with children and our teachers in Svay Pak. We continue to try and spread grace and peace wherever we go. And we keep praying. Rinse and repeat.