by Jeff Cook
Things are not always what they seem. And discerning reality from
fiction in Cambodia is made all the more difficult when having to
overcome language and cultural barriers. That said, I usually go into
things with my eyes wide open, a healthy suspicion, and a subtle
expectation that things will turn out quite differently than
In my previous two posts, I relayed a story about a family in crisis,
and when I wrote about their circumstances and the steps being taken to
assist them, I had no reason to doubt the authenticity of their plight.
Sadly, after further fact checking by the pastor and individuals that
work in the village where the family lives, witnesses to the event seem
to unanimously contradict the uncle's depiction of what transpired.
To recap, the original story was that a man and a woman caring for their
15-year-old niece from Vietnam had rejected offers from powerful people
in the village to sell the young girl into the sex trade. An argument
ensued due to the man's unwillingness to sell his niece, after which the
man and woman were run over by a car, leaving them broken and
penniless. According to the villagers, however, it turns out that in
all likelihood the man and woman were attempting to sell their niece,
and when the trafficker came to give them money, the man demanded $100
more than the agreed upon price. At that point, the argument began
which led to the man and woman being run over.
This turn of events does not change the fact that the young girl is in
an extremely perilous state without education or a loving family.
Thankfully, she has now completed her third week of school and is
getting support from the church in her studies.
But what to do about the family? Previously I wrote about how the
family was to begin receiving physical therapy this week. As far as I
know, this has happened. But the question moving forward is: What does
it mean to love this family? I do not think the man and woman should
think that they are benefiting from lies they told to save face. But
given their egregious actions how does one try to effect change through
love? It is a delicate matter, especially given the cross-cultural
aspects that need to be taken into account before any response is
decided upon. Any suggestions are welcome; I return to the village on
Easter Sunday to address the matter.