One of the fun things about living in Cambodia is that you never know what will happen on a day to day basis. Life here is always about expecting the unexpected and just going with the flow. You never know who you might meet. Such has been my week where I had the unexpected but incredible privilege of meeting 5 Canadian MPs (Members of Parliament) from our federal parties.
• Dean Allison - Conservative (Niagara West-Glanbrook, Ontario)
• Wayne Easter - Liberal (Malpeque, PEI)
• Russ Hiebert - Conservative (South Surrey, Whiterock, Cloverdale, BC)
Left to Right: Ellie Vandenberg (World Vision Canada), MP Wai Young, MP Isabelle Morin, MP Dean Allison)
It was encouraging that this Canadian delegation of MPs were on fact finding mission visiting both Thailand and Cambodia to learn more about Human trafficking. Their visit is quite timely considering that yesterday, Bill C-310 received royal assent. This bill gives prosecutors and police in Canada the power to arrest and prosecute Canadians for human-trafficking crimes committed outside the country. Manitoba Conservative MP Joy Smith, Canada's modern day female version of William Wilberforce has been championing this cause for a long time. Her TWO Private Members Bills (Bill C-268 in 2010 and Bill C-310 yesterday) now serve to strengthened Canada’s laws against human trafficking.Combined with the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking launched earlier this month these efforts positions Canada as a leader in the fight against human trafficking.
While Canada does not have an embassy in Cambodia, it was a special privilege to be contacted by MP Wai Young (Conservative - Vancouver South) who wanted to meet Ratanak personnel on the ground here in Cambodia. It was like meeting a long lost friend. Her invitation to have a breakfast meeting despite their busy schedule, provided an opportunity for me to connect with all the other MPs and to share about Ratanak's response and discuss the diverse portfolio of programs (Prevention, Aftercare, Foster care homes, Transitional Life skills and now our own RAP Community home), that we have had the privilege of funding over the past 6 years. To know that our Federal government is not only taking this issue of Human Trafficking seriously but to see their interest and support in what we are doing here in Cambodia was such a blessing and a huge encouragement. It is a reminder to me that our fight for justice on behalf of those who have no voice involves cooperation at all levels. We each have a role to play, whether it is us as NGOs on the ground here in Cambodia, our volunteers back in Canada or our MPs at the Federal level. This battle to end human trafficking will involve all of us working together to make a difference.
Last evening as I drove MP Wai Young and MP Russ Hiebert - Conservative (South Surrey, Whiterock, Cloverdale, BC)around certain streets where one will see many ''sex pats'' hanging out, their eagerness to understanding the different dynamics at play in trafficking in Cambodia was clearly apparent. I wish we had more time together but all in God's timing. Do pray that as they have spent an intense few days learning much about the issues of trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia and the challenges and structural factors at play, that the Lord will use them to be His voice at the legislative level. Psalm 145:4-7 says:One generationcommends your works to another;they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendorof your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.They tellof the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodnessand joyfully sing of your righteousness. May it be that as God has opened their eyes to see the darkness of this sordid trade, that He will raise up many more William Wilberforces within the government of Canada, who will commend His works to the next generation, using their spheres of influence to take a stand for human dignity and proclaim as William Wilbeforce did: So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the Trade's wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for Abolition. Let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.”