After learning about the issue of human trafficking through Purchased, my husband Alex and I recently traveled to Cambodia to understand more about the situation in that country. We were able to visit The Daughters Project, one of Purchased’s partner organizations. Below is an account of our visit. A highlight of our trip was visiting The Daughters Project inPhnom Penh. We had heard about this project for while, since it is a partner organization for Purchased and founded in part by a friend of ours! However, being there in person was a whole different story. The project is a vocational training program for girls at risk of or recovering from exploitation by human trafficking. They make prom dresses designed by our friend Nicole, which are then sold at Sophia’s Bridal and Prom store here inIndianapolis. Meeting these girls made a huge impression on us. They are overwhelmingly sweet, kind and welcoming! They made us feel right at home the moment we arrived at their workshop. However, this was one of the hardest parts of the trip for us as well. Hearing about how some of the girls we were spending time with were literally moments away from being sold by their families was truly heartbreaking. Dark Reality InCambodia, families that are in desperate poverty are sometimes willing sell their daughters to earn money (other times, families are also tricked into this kind of “opportunity” thinking it is a legitimate job). It’s one thing to know that these things are happening, but to meet people that it affects is a whole different story. As a woman, it’s an especially hard reality for me to swallow. It’s difficult to find words to express the ache in my heart as I think of these women and others around the world that have been affected by this issue. Finding Hope The encouraging thing is that this program identifies girls through relationships in the community, and provides a way to give them hope for a different future! The girls live together in a safe house and are able to share life and meals together, when they’re not at the workshop. They have some beautiful green space to relax outside of the city. We were able to visit the girls’ house, and had the most delicious lunch we had anywhere inCambodia! It was wonderful to see where they live and spend time together, which was a welcome retreat from the fast pace of the city. Processing These girls have made a strong impression on us. We’re completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the problem, and how many other women out there are affected, each with her own story. But like any problem, the first step is making a difference for one, two, or even ten women. As we’ve been wrestling with this, we’ve been looking for the good. We’re encouraged to meet women whose lives have been changed. Conversations with these girls show that their lives are much different than before. They enjoy living together, and are now making plans for the future, like sewing or working in shops. We’re also encouraged about how God is working through people who are using their energy and resources to help. There’s no way to know for sure, but these stories can now have endings of hope – not of perfect lives, but of a profoundly different future. CGI and The Daughters Project The Daughter’s Project is in its second year at Center for Global Impact (CGI). If you feel called to become involved or know more, go to www.myCGIstory.com or www.cgidaughters.com. A Couple Cooks If you visit our blog (www.acouplecooks.com), you can give back to one of the organizations Purchased supports! For any page that you click, the ad revenue that is generated is donated to Center for Global Impact (The Daughters Project) and International Justice Mission (IJM)!