Chaya* entered the Ratanak Achievement Program (RAP) Community Home when we first opened its doors. She had been trafficked by a family member – her own grandmother. Chaya was rescued by a partner organization and eventually brought to the RAP Community Home. She was one of the most traumatized and fearful young women I had ever met, and yet there was a strength about her.
While at RAP she attended school, learned how to cook and did her chores. But learning how to make healthy decisions is difficult when you are still healing from a traumatizing and painful past. And her strength made her…well, a challenge. And so, with great patience and much self-discipline, the staff continued to encourage, love and guide her, helping her to reflect on her behaviour and coaching her on her responsibilities as an adult. Slowly but surely, through the many struggles and with her newfound freedom, we started to see traits of leadership and confidence emerge from the shell of the traumatized young woman who first arrived.
Our staff have modeled a tenacious Christ-like love, showing patience and compassion, even when they themselves are hurt by fits of anger and the poor decision-making of those traumatized. It is a process that inevitably must happen as these young women prepare to enter the larger world of Cambodian society, which can be vicious and not in the least understanding of their past. As we see these young women mature, heal, graduate, and live healthy, thriving lives, our hearts are bursting with thankfulness and joy that God has given us the opportunity to be a part of their healing journey.
Chaya graduated in 2013 and our staff have kept in touch, following up with her to make sure she is still safe and healthy. Today, she is married and living with her husband and mother-in-law. She is doing business with her husband and now has two little boys. They have purchased two plots of land and she is planning to buy a home for her family! Needless to say, we are very proud of her!
I hope reading these stories brings you as much joy as it brings me. Often, we are overwhelmed by the circumstances at hand – it can seem so dark as we read shocking reports of human trafficking, abuse and exploitation. I am always encouraged by the passage in Zephaniah, which reminds us that God is in the business of restoring lives. Even those we would deem as hopeless. “Do not fear O Zion, do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save.” Please continue to pray for our staff and the young women in the RAP Community Home!
Picture: Chaya with one of the staff members at RAP before performing a traditional Khmer dance