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Let’s Move Beyond Acknowledgement

 
My team spent four days in Siem Reap this week as part of our midway debrief session.  It turned out to be a very interesting part of my week as the night life in Siem Reap holds much more activity than what I have witnessed in Battambang.  Sex tourism was evident in every direction I looked.  The best education I have received on sex tourism up to this point, I learned from a seventy-four year old man from Germany who had purchased a girl for the eight days that he would be in Siem Reap—and for some reason he decided to stop and talk to my teammate and I.  What he had to say confirmed so many of the articles that I have researched, documentaries I have seen, books I have read and information I have gathered about sex tourism.  So, it does exist and yes—it’s ugly. 
 
Eventually, this man sat next to the girl he had purchased and we caught each other’s eyes.  I have looked into the eyes of plenty of girls in her situation before and I knew with them as I knew with this girl—I couldn’t walk up to her, grab her hand, and lead her away from that abuse and give her the life she deserves.  That wouldn’t fly with the purchaser, the owner, and the girl probably wouldn’t even come with me.  So I sat there—and I’m still sitting and thinking about what it looks like to transform this world that we have created for ourselves.  I know its possible.  I have even seen the evidence of the transformation. 
 
Something God made sure I knew before returning to Cambodia was this: I have a responsibility to the people I see suffering and a responsibility with the knowledge I gain about injustice.  These experiences were not meant for me alone.
 
So my next step is learning how to honor the people I have met and their stories by sharing what I’ve seen with the world—and especially to those who are well-equipped to change it.  It’s important to acknowledge their suffering and not hide from the guilt that I feel when I hear it.  There is a step beyond just acknowledging, it’s acting.  It’s going beyond only having an emotional reaction and stepping onto the social platform of change.  It’s even making myself uncomfortable to set right what has been made so wrong.  It’s learning more about other’s suffering and understanding the broken systems that surround them so that I can be a part of changing that.  It’s choosing to ask where and how my clothes, shoes, electronics and nearly everything I consume, are being produced.  It’s choosing to not be intimidated by the enormity of it all—because intimidation is the first step towards despair and despair towards disablement.  Things like sex tourism will be defeated one day, but I need to pay attention to it, learn about it, and adjust my comfortable life accordingly.  Every day I am given the choice—to ask the hard question, to give up my comfort, to inconvenience myself for the benefit of another, to pray for restoration, and to choose selflessness love.  Some days I make the wrong choice—but it’s a work in progress.  I challenge all of us to make your choice each day to step beyond just acknowledgment towards action—whatever that may look like for you.  But don’t underestimate yourself. 
 
There are tons of articles, books, and websites that are great resources to learn more about what we can do.  The latest one I was referred to is: humangoods.net.  It has some great stories to read and resources to check out that helped me better understand the global slave trade. 
 
Great article for a good read!
http://humangoods.net/?p=2066
 
Peace,
Hannah

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