This is the third and final blog in our series about human trafficking. As LWB has expanded to Cambodia, we have learned that it is impossible to work there without an understanding of trafficking and how it affects vulnerable children in this region. We are so grateful to our newest board member, Dr. Robert Spires, for sharing his expertise with us.
When I first began to explore the topic of human trafficking, I was overwhelmed. I had a bit of an existential crisis finding out that not only had slavery continued past the 1800s, but it was alive and well. I may have even witnessed it without knowing what I was seeing.
After reading all of the graphic memoirs of trafficking victims, the government reports, and the stories told by investigative journalists, my entire worldview had been shattered. Then, I began to look at what was being done to fix the issue. I made several trips overseas, and that is where I had my faith in humanity restored.
There are amazing people worldwide, in some pretty dire contexts, doing fantastic, powerful and effective work to address human trafficking.
Since Thailand is a hub for trafficking in Southeast Asia, and Bangkok is a major global city, many international organizations operate in Thailand, such as Trafcord, DEPDC, Alliance Anti-Trafic, and A21. These wonderful organizations are providing a myriad of services, such as legal assistance to victims, emergency shelter, counseling, and life skills training to those who have been sold or coerced into exploitative situations.
So, how did I come to be involved with LWB’s work in Cambodia? In 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Eldridge, LWB’s CEO, when she contacted me after reading about my research in the region. We had a great phone conversation about some of the NGOs with whom I had worked in Thailand, and she discussed LWB’s interest in Southeast Asia. At the end of our conversation about Thailand, I was itching to tell her about the work of Sokleng In (who goes by Leng) in Cambodia, with whom I had been collaborating since 2014. I explained the amazing work he was doing in Cambodia with very modest resources.
Amy and I talked about working in Cambodia as a great collaborative opportunity for LWB because the sky is the limit on the amount of impact that can be had there, and the need is so great. Soon after our talk, Amy contacted me and said she wanted to visit Cambodia to see the situation for herself. I knew that she would fall in love with the community, with Leng, and of course, with the amazing children and teenagers in the area (and I was right!)
I explained to Amy that I wanted to be involved in the partnership in any way that she saw fit. To my surprise, she asked, “Will you be on our board?” It has been a pleasure to be a part of this outstanding organization whose great reputation so clearly precedes it. I look forward to many fruitful years of work as a part of the LWB team.
Human trafficking cannot be addressed unless we attack it at every level, which includes the economic reality of large numbers of extremely impoverished and disadvantaged people around the world. We cannot do this without profound changes of heart and mind across the globe.
There is no wrong place to start, whether at home or abroad. In tomorrow’s blog, we will share about LWB’s Safe Haven Foster Care program which places children traumatized from trafficking and abuse into sheltered home environments where we can begin to address both their physical and emotional needs.
Human trafficking is one of the key symptoms of real problems of our contemporary civilization: greed and avarice, heartlessness toward neighbors and strangers, devaluing of human life, callousness to the suffering of others, and the commodification of people as nothing more than their usefulness in profit-making.
Together, we can make a difference if we just start somewhere.
~Dr. Bob Spires serves on Love Without Boundaries’ Board of Directors.
Read the previous two blogs in this series here:
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