A Blog from a Brit!!
Well this trip is a trip of firsts! I achieved a boyhood dream in flying on a 747 which is as big as I thought it was when I was 10! Boy – Cambodia is a long way. Why when God places things on your heart are they so far away?! All in all the three flights were good – I had curry for lunch, dinner and breakfast on the way over! Good job I like curry…! Clearing customs was fine and hotel is good. Never has a bed – even a firm bed – felt so good as it did last night!
Today is the first real day here. Met with IJM this morning for a briefing on the position as it is now. Fair to say it is no better than anticipated. All around are hotels with ‘massage’ facilities – girls for sale like a cattle market. This is the legal stuff! The younger girls are much more strictly controlled due to the ‘commodity’ value and the fact that it is ‘illegal’… Martin Smith of Delirious? once said in a concert – “If it’s not acceptable in heaven then it should not be acceptable down here”. There is so much in that statement – things that go on round here fit that. As ambassadors of Christ we ought to be challenged, stirred and perhaps even angered over these matters. In any case we must never sanction them as being acceptable to God who I am sure weeps over every girl – and boy – who find themselves in this position. It is an honour to be able to be something of a voice to those who so clearly go unheard.
This afternoon was another fist – a tuk tuk ride for 5 people! A whole afternoon for $9! We experienced the Russian Market where almost anything can be found! Yes I bought and yes I haggled - but I have to admit to being pants at the latter. When a guy wants to sell you a huge tablecloth for $8 how do you argue…!
Anyway – a shower and dinner await. Perhaps I will have a curry!
Thank you to all for your prayers and support – do keep them coming for the challenges which lay ahead.
I’m sitting in downtown Phnom Penh on a very comfortable wicker chair in an open air restaurant – with a bowl of peanuts and a cold drink in hand. I’m looking onto the street before me at a scene that has become very familiar to me in Asia over the years – motorbikes, tuk tuks, traffic mayhem, a massive entrance into a wat, cars, dogs, food vendors. It’s pouring rain and the heat of the day has been consumed. The air smells like a musty soup of exhaust fumes. Slushy side roads teem with people. What is unusual about this scene for me though is to see so many white men in colored shirts – obviously working for NGO’s – young white men and women in T-shirts – obviously working for NGO’s. I didn’t expect to see this dense concentration of NGO’s in the streets. I know this is the area where most stay because of the reasonable and clean hotels and eating places. It’s the NGO ghetto in Cambodia and I find it that interesting. On the right I hear a young man with an English accent talking to a waitress about his day working with people who are affected by HIV and AIDS. Further back there are small groups of others reviewing their day and making plans and tapping on their computers just like me. It is comfortable here. It feels safe.
The rain has stopped. It’s five o’clock and something else has changed… pedestrians have returned to the streets. Looking to the left three beautifully groomed Cambodian girls are strolling along – two are probably about 16 and one is about 12 – they appear to be available for pick up. The shoe shine boy shows up – his eyes are tired and his hair still looks dusty. Young girls appear with flowers in a basket – they too look exhausted, dusty and vacant. Why do their tired eyes and emotionless faces speak so loudly?
I am on my first journey to Cambodia many things to discover.
Yesterday Beth and I flew to Cambodia from Thailand where we had spent a week of meetings. The flight was short but about 20 minutes from Phnom Penh we hit a major storm. The plane started to rock and roll and the passengers got a bit tense.
Just a few minutes before we landed the skies cleared just a bit so that we could peek down on the landscape. Cambodia from the air was beautiful, lush and orderly. I was struck by its beauty. So the plane ride seemed to give us a good introduction to both Cambodia’s stormy history and its God created beauty.
That night after dinner we walked along the streets for a few minutes. We passed lots of bars, restaurants and the large temple that seemed to dominate and to overlook on all the street activities. Men were definitely on the prowl and I noticed a very tired looking girl standing around who looked so much older and worn out as compared to her young years. No doubt she had a long and unpleasant evening ahead.
The next morning we had a very informative meeting with representatives of International Justice Mission, one of Ratanak’s partners. I was encouraged as I heard about the newly created training program for police officers by IJM. This program trains police officers from the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit by sharing 12 well developed and locally contextualized training modules. It helps Cambodia police have the tools and understanding they need to deal with the complexity of human trafficking and on how the police can make a critical difference. This is just one of the recent positives changes that are happening in Cambodia.
I look forward to learning more tomorrow.
September 1, 2009