Thomas Chui went to Cambodia last year with a team from Tenth. Below, he shares a pivotal moment for himself and for the team:
When I went to Cambodia last year with a team from Tenth, we visited garment factories and spoke with girls who used to work in them. I saw how our first world clothes are made by young girls. They should be in school, not working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for $100 a month.
I learned these girls come to the city to work in the factories and are separated from their families back in the villages. They hope to make a better life for themselves and their families. But then the garment factory suddenly becomes a “gateway drug” for forced prostitution.
The girls in the factories are often raped. After their dignity is taken away, they can end up working in Karaoke bars in forced prostitution amassing debts for room and board. Their captors treat them like a commodity, essentially making them human slaves.
My heart was broken. I felt so overwhelmed, like my hands were tied to help them. Should I just boycott the clothing industry? Could I even do anything?
Spending time with Solida, a local Christian woman and friend of Tenth Church, gave me a ray of hope.
Solida began building trust with girls in these Karaoke bars by offering them health care and friendship. Then she started giving them counseling, and job training to help the girls find better work in salons, sewing, hospitality and food service. Solida named her work appropriately - “Precious Women.”
Our team met some of these girls training with Solida over a meal, and a few of them shared about the amazing impact Precious Women had on their lives.
One of the most sobering moments from our time in Cambodia was driving the girls back to the Karaoke bars for them to start their shift. As a team we prayed and decided to help Precious Women. When we went back and told Solida about a partnership with Tenth Church, she had tears in her eyes. She said “no one has ever offered to invest in my team like this.”
Our dream is to help Precious Women build a new home, and lend them startup money to start salons and create better employment for the girls they rescue.
As a soon-to-be father, I know that my child would want me to be an advocate for these Cambodian children who are vulnerable to exploitation. I’m convinced that every dollar we spend is a vote. Whether it’s the clothing we buy, or the gifts that we give, we’re voting for something. I’m excited that we as a church will vote for Justice.
I encourage you to support Precious Women. Donate to our Joining Hands for Justice campaign to reduce human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Camboda.