“No matter how much you study, you will never amount to anything. Your lot in life is to work as a slave.”
Fear gripped Veasna (a pseudonym) as the words spewed from her uncle’s lips. In rural Cambodia, where one third of the population lives on $2 to $3 per day, many children are forced into slavery or prostitution. Will this be my fate? Veasna wondered.
Her uncle’s struggle to find steady work made life difficult for the family. Veasna often came to school with no lunch or just a little rice and fish paste. At 12 years old, she had dropped out of school so many times that she was still in the second grade. Yet she was a bright girl.
At Bunthim, Veasna's teacher at Samraong Adventist School (SAS) prayed for her and did all he could to help her, but halfway through the school year, she disappeared. Bunthim learned that her uncle had taken her to the capital city of Phnom Penh to work as a maid in a private home.
Like Veasna, most child trafficking victims are trafficked by a trusted acquaintance, and economic hardship is often the driving factor. Education is critical to fighting poverty and child trafficking, and ASAP Ministries’ mission schools are uniquely equipped to help.
- Strategic Location: ASAP schools are strategically located among at-risk populations.
- Growing Safe Curriculum: ASAP’s Growing Safe curriculum teaches students their identity as God’s children and how to avoid unsafe behaviors and situations.
- Prayer and Advocacy: ASAP teachers are committed Christians who pray and advocate for the safety of their students.
While these advantages do not guarantee a happy ending, there is still hope for children like Veasna. During her time at SAS, she came to know and love God. Just as He was with the Israelite girl who served as a maid in Naaman’s house, He is with Veasna now.
There are happy endings, too! Another one of Bunthim’s students named Sreyleak (a pseudonym) often seemed sad and kept to herself. She lived with her grandmother, and they were desperately poor. Sometimes Sreyleak ate only two or three meals a week.
Bunthim and the local pastor prayed for Sreyleak and shared meals with her. Soon, her focus in the classroom improved, but then one day, she disappeared. Bunthim learned that Sreyleak’s grandmother had died. An aunt had taken her in, but Bunthim sensed something was wrong. Sreyleak frequently missed class and sometimes came to school with bruises on her arms.
Bunthim visited Sreyleak’s aunt and explained how much the girl needed her love. He urged her to stop beating Sreyleak and to treat her like her own daughter. Gradually, the situation improved. Sreyleak even began calling her aunt “Mom.” Now, she is back in school and thriving!
ASAP Ministries Launches the UPLIFT Campaign
As children across America head back to school, many children in Southeast Asia do not have access to the educational opportunities we take for granted. Like Veasna and Sreyleak, they need someone to UPLIFT them. And they need to know Jesus. When the children of Israel were suffering in Egypt, “with an uplifted arm [God] brought them out of it” (Acts 13:17b, NKJV). Today, God has called us, by the power of His Spirit, to UPLIFT those who are suffering the ravages of poverty.
You can impact the lives of at-risk children by giving to ASAP’s UPLIFT Campaign. Your gift will support ASAP’s Education Fund, providing teacher stipends, textbooks, and school supplies, and covering the cost of education for students whose families could not otherwise afford it. You can also sponsor an at-risk student for a monthly gift of $30 or an entire school for a yearly gift of $4,000 or more.
Will you become an advocate for children like Veasna and Sreyleak? Will you pray for their safety and salvation? Will you give so they can experience the life-changing power of God’s love? May God richly bless you as you UPLIFT these little ones!
Click here to learn more or donate to the UPLIFT Campaign.