Throughout the world, each year hundreds of thousands of children are sold or kidnapped by traffickers.
Among the most vulnerable to trafficking are those living in poverty with little to no education. In Cambodia alone, an estimated 256,800 people are living in modern slavery*, and many more are sold to traffickers in other countries. With your support, we are working to prevent trafficking in rural villages of Takeo Province, Cambodia.
As in many rural villages across Cambodia, Takeo Province is home to large groups of children struggling to survive with little adult presence. While some of the children in these villages are true orphans, most of them have been abandoned by parents seeking work in Phnom Penh, about 80 kilometers away from Takeo. As a result, these villages are ripe environments for trafficking. So for parents who remain in the community, “selling” their child may seem like the only plausible solution to their circumstances. Through local leaders, we seek to advocate and care for the children who are left alone, exposed and vulnerable.
The Beginning of Ministry
Lifesong’s work in Cambodia started in the neighboring country of Thailand.
As a new construction site began outside an international school, teachers noticed many children hanging around with nothing to do. So teachers started meeting with the children at the construction site; they learned many of these kids came with their parents from Cambodia. As more and more children came, the teachers enlisted the help of local pastors. Together, they offered education and meals and, for those without parents, a home.
Many of these kids moved as the construction sites moved. Some returned to Cambodia to live with other relatives. Seizing the opportunity to support this migrant community across the border, teachers and Thai pastors met with pastors in Cambodia. Together, they continue to reach the most vulnerable with education and the Gospel message.
Our team first met Sum through rural outreach.
His village is about 7 kilometers from the Children’s Home and Learning Center. Most of the families in his community try to make a living through farming, but a lack of consistent income leads many parents and older children to migrate to cities or Thailand in search of jobs. Often as parents seek work elsewhere, they have to leave their children behind. This means most of the kids cannot attend school.
But Sum lives at our Children’s Home. Abandoned by his father, Sum and his 3 siblings were raised by their mother. Sum’s youngest brother is 9 years old and is currently still living with his mother, though he plans to join Sum in the children’s home next year. Sum’s older brother and sister are working to help support their mother and family.
Before coming to the Children’s Home and Learning Center, Sum’s mother could not afford daily food and care for all of her children. Sum would often ask other villagers for food as he tried to find a way to attend school. Going to school is very important for children in these impoverished rural villages, as it provides a layer of protection against traffickers. Children who do not attend school are more at risk.
The daily pressure and anxiety of not knowing where his next meal would come from or if he would even be able to go to school put a tremendous emotional strain on Sum.
In the children’s home, Sum no longer worries about his next meal or his education. He is safe and can study his lessons without fear as new opportunities open up to him. The cycle of poverty can be broken. With mentors who teach and disciple him, Sum hopes to help change his entire community.
The Children’s Home and Learning Center
Helping children reach their potential.
Currently, Sum lives with 12 boys and 11 girls ranging in age from 9 to 16. Pastor Mony and two older women run the home. On weekends a youth pastor comes to teach and lead activities and volunteers come throughout the week.
This home gives these children the opportunity to attend school and learn essential skills they will need after they graduate. They receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner and clean water for showering and brushing their teeth. While this may be commonplace in America, they are greatly cherished gifts for these kids.
The Learning Center is a place for the kids to receive additional instruction, primarily Bible, English, and Math. Recently donated laptops will help develop a computer education program, significantly improving the chances of success for these children.
But most importantly, the children in our home learn about Jesus Christ.
They receive Bible teaching and are learning about the Gospel and how to share Christ’s love with others. On most weekends, the children visit local villages to share Christ’s love with other children, many who are still living in similar circumstances like Sum came from. Often, Sum goes to his home village, where he visits his mother and siblings and hopes to one day be able to care for them.
We believe God gives children talents and blessings to lead the next generation.
You can be part of the solution.
Help promote the prevention of child trafficking. Help strengthen our homes, schools, and ministries that are reaching these vulnerable children. Our hope for Sum and every child in our home is to become solid leaders in their communities–sharing the Gospel and developing opportunities to lift others out of poverty and keeping children safe.
…learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause. –Isaiah 1:17
*Cited from the Global Slavery Index 2016