Over ½ million teen girls and young women come into Phnom Penh to work in the garment factories.
They go to and from work in overcrowded trucks with standing room only. Their average salary is $160/month, a poverty-level income. In many cases, they work 60 to 70 hours a week to make more, although still a poverty-level salary. Often they send a good portion of their salary back to their village to help support their siblings, parents, grandparents and their own children living with relatives in the village.
Many of these girls are lured into the vast human trafficking industry innocently or because of the offer of higher pay. Some are tricked or lured into jobs overseas where they are held as slaves, beaten and raped.
Young Khmer women will often sacrifice everything so that their younger siblings can go to school or to pay off family debt. At times, Cambodian teens and young women are pressured into prostitution by parents or family members. They will often do what they think they must do to bring income to their needy families.
What can we do to make a difference?
We have built rental rooms that provide an affordable, clean, safe environment for workers. There are plenty of rooms to rent near the factories but they are more expensive, generally not in good condition and not safe. Our rooms are only $15 per month. Any profit beyond maintenance goes to a benevolent fund for the women.
The ladies love the atmosphere that has been created for them. A pastor and his wife live on the property and care for them. The workers’ families are grateful that their daughters are well protected and looked after.
We now have approximately 20 teens/young women joining us for Bible study and other events. Our hope is that they will gain spiritual knowledge and through counseling not be lured into a life that was not meant for them. Many young women have become Christians and have been baptized. They now share the good news with the others in the factories and when they visit their families in the villages. We provide English classes, counseling, organized events/celebrations and have donated medicines on hand for the young women.
Some of the workers are beginning to marry other Christians within the ministry. They are having the first Christian wedding ceremonies among their Buddhist families. We have our fourth wedding coming up in July 2016.
As I was preparing this website page, I received a letter from the pastor working with these young women. This is what he said:
“At this time we are so excited with the ministry at our place. Yesterday night one of our factory girls in our bible study group came to visit us and told us that she shared with her friends in her factory and many of them are interested in our bible study group. We are trying to teach them to be fishermen and women. This church is growing under God’s grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
If you would like to give to help these young workers’ lives with things like child care/schooling for their children, medical expenses, etc., please see our donate page and give to our PROJECT. Thank you!