Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Unusual Drug

In Cambodia there is always something new to learn about. Some of the new things contribute to a sense of joy and expectation and yet other things, can so easily create or feed fear. Thankfully for those of us who believe in Christ, we are often reminded in scripture that perfect love cast out fear (1 John 4:18). We do not have a spirit of fear or one of timidity but one of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7). So even as I blog about this unusual drug that I have been gathering info about, it can easily lead to fear. But the purpose of this is not just to create awareness of it but hopefully to encourage you to keep on praying for those of us who live here, that we will all walk not by fear but by faith in God who promises to be our shield and fortress regardless of the visible reality. So what is this drug?

A week ago, I was having a conversation with my language instructor and since then I have been talking to some other Khmer friends about it. The comments seem to be consistent about this drug and its effect. It seems there is a particular drug that makes people compliant. It doesn't sound all that unusual but how is this drug ingested. It is done with a simple touch on your shoulder, on your back or wherever. What it does is make the person compliant that they turn into a zombie like state and will follow the person who touches them. They will feel sleep and fatigued---I might add many of us often feel quite tired and exhausted but that has more to do with the heat. At any rate, whatever that person tells you to do, you do it. So if it is giving them the money in your purse or pocket, taking off your earings and shoes, and even taking off your clothes, the person will do it. They will have no idea what they are doing and what is interesting is that when the drug wears off, the person who was affected by the drug will have no recollection of what they did, where they were and who encouraged them to do these things. Moreoever, if you were to have your blood tested, there would be no trace of any drugs in your blood system. If you think of the implications of this drug, you will realize that it has the potential to create havoc and more importantly, in the sordid exploitation of children and women, it can lead to devastating effects. In many ways, it is similar to a date rape type drug.

Today, Yeng the country director from Chab Dai was over for a meeting and I was asking him more details about this drug. He told me that one of his neighbors experienced these exact symptoms when she was shopping in a local market. She gave up all her jewelery and money to some stranger but had no recollection of why, who or what. A similar story happen to my language instructor's Mum about 4 years ago and most recently, one of his teenage neighbors described similar effects. She had disappeared for two days and when the police found her, she had no money and had no recollection of where she was or how she got there.

Yeng mentioned that the drug comes from a neighboring country and it is often used in the trafficking of girls. I'm not surprised. With such a drug that makes one so compliant, its the perfect tool to trick an innocent and vulnerable person. So who are the targets of this drug. I am told that if you are shopping in a local market, dress simple, no jewelry, carry little cash. Most of the targets have been Cambodian people from the countryside who come to the city. In many cases, they come wearing all their gold and diamonds and usually have a lot of cash in their purses or pockets versus a Westerner who may use debit cards or ATM cards. As such, it is people who stand out in the crowd with all of their fancy jewelry that draw attention from these unscrupulous characters who prey on them.

It is easy to become paranoid when one hears such news but as Psalm 112:6-8 says: Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.

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