Bed Bus to Poipet [Jeff’s 2nd Blog from Cambodia/Philippines]

07 Feb

Bed Bus to Poipet [Jeff’s 2nd Blog from Cambodia/Philippines]

These girls live in the slums of Poipet, and are receiving help to go to school, giving them hope for the future rather than feel they are bound to the fate of so many who sell their bodies. Good friends, both hope to become teachers someday.

Dear Friends,

I had never heard of a “bed bus” until I boarded one bound for Poipet, a small city on Cambodia’s border with Thailand. After squeezing down an aisle that thin people have to walk sideways to fit through—two tiers of beds down each side—I soon discovered that the bunks were double-occupancy, meaning I had to share the last remaining 3.5-foot-wide by 5-foot-long bunk, all the way in the back of the bus, with another person for the 9-hour ride through the dark, bumpy night.

Poipet is a hot, dusty town (this time of year) of more than 100,000 residents. Glitzy casinos, built on a neutral patch of real estate that’s neither Cambodia nor Thailand (a crafty way to elude gambling laws), rise up in stark contrast to the poverty surrounding them. At night, desperately poor children and young adults seep from nearby slums, where they live during the day, into the streets around the casinos to sell their bodies so that they can make enough money to help their families survive. Thousands more pour back and forth across the border each day—both legally and illegally—to find work in more prosperous Thailand, and many end up being trafficked into the sex-tourist cities of Pattaya and Bangkok.

I traveled there with my friends, with whom I had spent the day before visiting the slums of Phnom Penh (click here if you missed my first blog). My purpose was to learn how Heaven’s Family might be able to help protect these children—especially the youngest, who are most vulnerable to being forced into this dangerous, dehumanizing existence.

Among our strategies, we hope to help families start small businesses like sewing, raising pigs, and operating simple pedal or motorized taxis, so that they can afford to feed their children, send them to school, and keep them off the streets at night. Please pray for wisdom and the resources to do so.

I’ve again included several photos below to help connect you more intimately with the situation here.

At left, another instance of the physical abuse common in the slums. This woman, who with her family currently live on these mats under a tarp, claimed her black swollen eye was the result of a fall. At right, children live in filthy conditions, and have few if any toys.

Two innocent lives among the many I met

It’s estimated that about 25% of all trafficked victims are boys, who are used for often-hazardous labor in factories and aboard fishing boats, or to meet the demand from pedophiles in Thailand’s tourist cities and beyond

At left, many of the Poipet poor illegally cross the unguarded, narrow river that separates Cambodia and Thailand to find work. Many mysteriously disappear into the dark world of human trafficking, never to be seen again. At right, this mother sells mats in the street near the casinos. We’re not sure if she also sold her daughter at night, but this is the all-too-common practice of many poor parents in Poipet.

More beautiful children

Next time you hear from me I’ll be in the Philippines, where I’ll be working with trusted partners who help protect children in the slums there. I’ll also help victims of a fire that leveled a slum, as well as check on recent typhoon relief efforts—both on behalf of the Disaster Relief Fund.

If you’d like to help the Human Trafficking/Slavery Fund help these children and others like them, please click on the blue donate button below.

Because of Him,

Jeff Trotter
Co-Director, Human Trafficking/Slavery Fund

Three more photos…

The girl on the right tried in vain to force a convincing smile. Recently she began sniffing glue, a common, inexpensive drug that many use here, but our team hopes they can reach her before it’s too late

This is the humble, compassionate case worker in Poipet who visits the slums to build relationships of trust with families in order to protect street children and give them hope for a better future

Like children all over the world, these boys were eager to pose for a photo!

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