A journey from death to life

I want to introduce you all to a beautiful Cambodian woman named Siep.  After dinner last night, I asked her (her daughter Cindy translated) if it was okay to share pictures of her on my blog, but more importantly share her story that makes her the woman she is today.  I felt her rough hands grab my arm and begin to hug me…
Siep was born and raised in the small town of Cambodia where I am located this summer.  She was married at a young age and soon after was sold into the sex trade industry.  Siep’s husband used her for money and sold her to men for many years.  She was trapped in a society where she would be traded from man to man, fulfilling their desires as they individually wished.  Because of her husband, she lived her life as a sex slave until the day she was rescued and brought to a safe place.  This safe place is the same place that I wake up, engage in bible studies, learn to sew, teach English, and build relationships with the women today.
Siep was part of the first womens’ group here at this compound in Cambodia during the 90’s.  45 women were rescued from the sex industry during that same time and were brought to this compound for safety and comfort. 
Siep’s journey did not end there; she lived the next few years watching 43 of her new friends die from HIV.  Siep was 1 of the 2 women that survived.  As she watched her roommates die one after another, she was forced to watch the staff of this organization burn the bodies themselves. 
Siep is a blessing to every girl that walks through the big gates of this compound.  She has grown up here, raised her daughter Cindy, and is now is on staff to care for the broken women that come to live here.
This small-framed woman is the definition of a super mom.  She serves in a way I have never seen anyone serve, and pushes me to serve as selflessly as she does.  Siep is not only in charge of the center, but also cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every person who lives here. 
She has watched women enter this safe place at all hours of the night.  Siep has watched the women develop as they learn new skills, and then watches them graduate from her program.  She says that many of the women will keep in contact with her after they have moved on, keeping her up to date with their lives in Cambodia.
I believe in this safe place that Siep has been a part of for so long, I believe in her mission, and her heart.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world to hear her story, and to live in this community that has shaped her. 
Not only has shaped her, but has shaped many women who have come and gone since the day she first arrived.

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