Written by: Mourng Chanra (Isaac), Project Direct for PHW / Garden of Hope in Cambodia
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”. Proverbs 31:8-9
The mission of my life is to serve vulnerable and marginalized people and to give voice to the silenced. To respond to the calling, I hold myself accountable to share love, care, and compassion, to rescue the trafficked and to restore their brokenness.
I have joined the Pleroma Missions in Cambodia since 2018. I serve as the Director of the Pleroma Home for Women (PHW). I am so impressed by the women ministry in PHW, which transforms and restores the lives of the women, empowering them to shine bright and be bold when they are reintegrated to their communities. I am humbled to be a part of this ministry.
Even after survivors of exploitation have escaped or been rescued, they still face a lengthy healing journey to find freedom psychologically, emotionally, and economically. Often, the transition is difficult and sometimes even life-threatening. The effects of repeated trauma are long-term and could last years. Survivors endure social stigma on a daily basis, and must still find ways to support their families, despite few opportunities for jobs or an education. We empower survivors, once vulnerable, exploited and oppressed, to live with dignity and hope. With counselling, life-skills training, job-skills training, education opportunities and support for families, women are provided with the emotional and physical skills and self-reliance needed for a successful life away from exploitation.
I would like to share the life journey of one of our women and her two-year-old boy, who was left behind by her husband and then rescued by the PHW.
KHMR is one of the women under our care in PHW. She was rescued on the streets by a local radio station with the coordination of the Ministry of Women Affairs of the Cambodia government. She was a victim of domestic violence and ran away from her husband. She wandered the streets with her two-year-old son and slept on the streets and in public stations. She broke up with husband, who gave her nothing but bitterness and psychosis.
In 2019, KHMR and her son first came to the PHW in our aftercare program. At that time, she was suffering from stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, fearfulness and nightmares; she could not be a functioning mother to her son. Day after day, KHMR lived in suspicion and trusted no one. For two years in our after-care program, KHMR was treated well and received services in a safe environment, as well as accommodation, food and professional care for her physical and emotional health. Having experienced all the difficulties in life, it took quite long for KHMR to make a full recovery. Life cannot be transformed or restored in a short time. It could only progress through focusing on holistic therapy, covering the physical, emotional, economic and spiritual components. Through God’s healing power, KHMR was transformed, and God was her support as she started a new life.
In April 2022, after having received two years of treatment, KHMR had recovered and regained her ability to function as a mother, as well as her confidence as a woman. The program reintegrates KHMR to her community located in the east of Cambodia. She started to settle down in the village and other villagers welcomed her, as she took on the challenges to live on her own. Living as a single mom with a son is not an easy task. But KHMR is slowly trying to fulfill her duty as both the mother and the father to her child. She is regaining the part of herself that she lost. She now cooks, walks her son to school every day for around 6 km back and forth. In order to improve the living conditions and sustain her economically, our program will provide her with a small business to make it possible for her to generate daily income. She is now waiting to start her small business to make a living for herself and her son.
At last, KHMR gives her heartfelt thanks to God, as He blesses her through the ministry and the PHW with a new hope and a new life. In order to help KHMR adjust to her community, the project provides her with a small house, as a blessing to her and her son. As KHMR said: “This house will give me and my son somewhere warm to live in, as I begin my family life again. Even I never thought I would be able to come back to the village again, and live in my own home with my son”. For several years, she left the village for adventures in the city, in hopes of finding a better life. Yet life was not as she dreamed, and everything pushed her towards a darkness in life.
She said: “This time I can find real life through God, as He is the light of my life. I have experienced the grace and love of the Lord, which is so important to me and my son. I will live here with my son and this will be my home. Even though it is a small home, it is a blessing to my family, as it is a place where I can start my new life with my son. This will be my home for the rest of my life, as this is the green pasture that God has prepared for me and my son.”
Note: KHMR is an alias used for the purpose of this story.