A land of rich culture and history, shrouded in darkness
Cambodia, a Southeast Asian nation surrounded on three sides by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, has a rich and influencial past. But war inevitably spilled across its borders in World War II and then the Vietnam War, causing great upheaval that reached its apex in the reign of terror and genocide initiated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.
Since the 1990s Cambodia has struggled to emerge from its troubled past, but tourism and foreign investment have brought significant economic development. Rapid growth has also led to a steep increase in human trafficking. Cambodia is now classified as a trafficking source, transit, and destination country.
One survey concluded that 35% of Cambodia’s 15,000 prostitutes are children under the age of 16, with some as young as 5 years old that are being sold (UNICEF). Many variables, including poverty, rapid economic and social change, and the lingering effects of the genocide, make Cambodia a target for traffickers and industries seeking cheap labor or sex workers. Many of these exploited individuals are trafficked into nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and China.
Our team in Cambodia works with a network of government officials, social workers, and NGOs to rescue children being exploited, trafficked, or sold locally for sex or labor. Most of these children are living in extreme poverty and working on the streets from early in the morning until late in the evening collecting recyclables, scavenging, or begging to collect money for themselves or their families. If they can’t make their daily quota, they are often beaten and abused, so they will often go to extremes to provide for their family, including selling themselves for sex services or child pornography.
Everlasting Love Training Program & Social Business
Everlasting Love (EL) is a social enterprise and training program for individuals freed from trafficking or prostitution. The EL program teaches them immediate job skills, primarily sewing, and employs them in our business. Women make high-end products (bags, shirts, scarves and more) utilizing Cambodian natural resources. Our purpose is to help them start new lives of physical, emotional and spiritual freedom in which they can enjoy self-sufficiency, worth and value. In addition, those with young children have a safe place in an adjacent room where they can leave them to learn and receive care during their training and subsequent employment. Their products are sold internationally through events and wholesalers, and online to build capacity and help more adults and children in need.
Education has proven to be instrumental at breaking the chains of poverty, one of the main causes of trafficking, exploitation and prostitution. The Education Empowerment Program uses sponsorships to enable children from Phnom Penh’s poorest communities to receive private school education, books and other supplies, uniforms, shoes, transportation, haircuts and hygiene supplies. It also pays for children to get birth certificates, which many poor children never receive when born, so they can attend school. Extreme Love Ministries also has a corresponding lunch sponsorship program, which provides one nutritious meal per day to those enrolled in the education program. For some, this is the only meal they will eat that day. Education helps prevent human trafficking!
Located in an undisclosed section of Phnom Penh for security purposes, Hope House provides a place of shelter and love for Cambodian children that have been severely traumatized, trafficked, or have undergone extreme abuse. Resident children are also disabled in some manner (physically or mentally) and need more attentive care. ELM believes these children can be physically, emotionally and spiritually restored. Our efforts in counseling, education, medical care, and daily nurturing seek to further their ongoing restoration and healing so each can fully attain his or her God-given potential.
Casework provides the foundation for the rescue of children and adults from trafficking, and represents one of our main purposes for outreach, rescue and aftercare efforts. The ELM team works in a variety of ways to specifically coordinate repatriations and rescues for trafficked and exploited Cambodian children. This requires a network of government officials, police, investigators, social workers, and other organizations to achieve successful results. ELM’s rescues from neighboring countries (such as Thailand) seek to ensure that vulnerable children will not be placed back in the care of the person(s) who sold them, and that instead they will receive safe, ongoing care and restoration for physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Kids Justice House of Prayer (KJHP)
KJHP operates in an at-risk slum community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, to provide teaching and discipleship for children. Within the program, a core group of kids are mentored in prayer and in how to hear God’s voice, so they can impact their families and communities through evangelism, intercession, and relationship with Jesus. In addition, the house is opened to the public one day per week so that a larger number of kids, moms, and their family members can join for teaching and training for practical applications.
Lighthouses are strategic access points into several Phnom Penh slums and street dwelling communities. Each is a small slum house the team rents to conduct ministry activities, build relationships, and provide ongoing local presence in vulnerable communities. Feeding outreaches, hygiene distributions, groups for women and men, a kids club, and English lessons are just some of the activities that occur in each Lighthouse. This is where the ELM team also hears about instances of human trafficking and exploitation, and coordinates with the casework team as needed to promote safe communities and assist in rescue, education and aftercare.
Many injustices in Cambodia (including human trafficking) are rooted in poverty. ELM seeks to provide jobs, training and micro-business opportunities to help individuals become self-sufficient, build the local economy, and prevent trafficking. ELM staff provides training, loans or grants, and ongoing business mentoring to help ensure success. Examples include a laundry business, a tuk-tuk taxi business, and several small, home-based businesses. The poor and vulnerable are also taught leadership skills. This program empowers individuals to provide for themselves and their families with dignity.
Shiloh Fellowship Houses
Shiloh Fellowship Houses are places of presence, encounter and purpose; places where righteous leaders arise; and places that overflow with love for God and His people. We believe that biblical signs, wonders and miracles follow those who believe and desire to illuminate that truth and destiny within their hearts. And in those spaces many encounter salvation and discipleship through the Word and Spirit.