Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back In The Saddle

Today was my first day back in Cambodia after arriving late last night from Canada. After 24 hours of traveling and 4 hours of sleep, somehow the Lord managed to wake me up at my usual 5am wake up call to spend time with Him before the day began. One of our staff Nary arrived at 7:15am as we had an early morning start with the Chab Dai Member meetings  on today and tomorrow.These meetings are an opportunity to learn from other organizations in the coalition and  it is a time to network and collaborate. The theme for this member meeting was on Family and community based strategies related to aftercare and reintegration for trafficking victims.
Chab Dai member participants arriving for the meeting

Some of the trends that have been observed for 2010-2012 involved a focus on integration. Vocational training and job placement programs have doubled and there is a focus on more foster care type models as orphanages are closing down.  The benefits of community and family focus based care was highlighted because it provides a more stable family environment, it is not institutionalized, lowers the risk of trafficking, reduces fear and worries by the family and seems to provide a more holistic development. However, one of the significant challenges that organizations involved in rehabilitation face is the tension between a child's right to belong in the family and her right to be protected from being hurt or mistreated. As one of our partner agencies noted, family and protection don't always go together since some parents are complicit in the sale of their own child.
Helen Sworn - Chab Dai's Founding Director making Opening Remarks

As we at Ratanak are in the process of setting up a community home, one of the key factors that we will be reviewing is the family impact. In this cultural milieu, helping a trafficking victim is not an isolated event for her family is very much a part of the equation. As one organization pointed out, there is a need to look at the risks involved in stabilizing families and the needs of those families. In some ways, equipping a former victim of sex trafficking  also involves empowering her family and providing a sustainable and holistic approach.

Following the morning session, we headed back to our offices as we were interviewing one more person for the role of home advisor and two of our recently hired staff -- Malak who will be our Psychosocial Coordinator and Sina, one of our Home Advisors were coming into our offices to sign their employment contracts. I continue to be amazed at the quality of staff God has provided us with. Little did we know when we hired Nary our Operations manager that she had spent time years ago caring for five of the seven girls who were abused by a Canadian pedophile that ignited Ratanak International's long struggle against sex slavery in Cambodia. It is in this sense we feel that the Lord has hand picked our staff and He is orchestrating events behind the scenes in ways that we could not ever have imagined or planned.

Moreover, Malak and Nary have worked together at Hagar many years ago and today watching them interact, it was like seeing two long lost friends meeting up again. As one of our staff commented, being part of Ratanak is like being part of a family. It is encouraging in these early days to see this kind of comraderie and closeness where we can joke and tease one another. Already, we are preparing one day to have a cooking competition between Sathya, our Finance & Admin manager and Nary, our Operations Manager. Both of them claim to be great cooks so I've challenged them to cook the rest of us a meal and we will judge their culinary skills.  This is one way for me to avoid cooking :-) 

We continue to be thankful to the Lord for how He is fostering a closely knit group as they work together for His purposes. Thank you for your prayers which have been so much a part of this process as we see the Lord's faithfulness on so many different levels!

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