Pampered and Trafficked

One thing I noticed here are the dogs. They lie around, allowing flies to land on them without trying to shake them off because of the heat. They occasionally might roll their eyes up to look at the person walking by, but they usually just lie in the shade waiting for the day to pass by. Some dogs walk around aimlessly, doing whatever they choose to do, whenever they choose to do it. One dog ate the slop out of a big bucket that we shoveled our somewhat empty trays into. Cambodian’s don’t give them special attention, special food, or shiny, clean bowls of water. And they certainly don’t take them on daily walks.

Dogs in the U.S. are the opposite. They have collars, pretty tags, beds, bones, food, and a warm house to live in. They receive daily walks and monthly grooming. Some of them even get breath mints, clothes, and christmas presents. All they have to do is give you puppy eyes and they receive instant attention.

(All you dog lovers, please don’t hate me:) The problem that I see with the dogs in the U.S. is that they have more comfort than the majority of the children in Cambodia (and other countries). Many of these children don’t have beds, clothes, pretty necklaces, warm houses to live in, or attention. The U.S. even has TV commercials dedicated to “saving the animals.” If we took all of that commercial money, we could send health products to children across the world. If we took all of the money spent on materials and pampered presents spent on dogs, we could provide children across the world with daily food.

Another thing that struck me was when we were handing out bread to schools in the floating village. I noticed a poster that was hung on over 10 different walls. It showed a big hand making a stop motion, and then it showed a parent handing their teenage girl over to a man. The man was handing over a wad of cash to the parent. The teenage girl hid behind her mother, with a look of fear written across her face. Behind the man was his car, with 3 or 4 teenage girls peering out of the windows. I couldn’t read the words because they were in Khmer, but I imagine that they said something like “stop human trafficking.”

In my hotel room, there is a sign on my door. It says “no trafficking or drug use.” After walking in Phnom Penh, I began to wonder why some women wait alongside of the road at night. It is very easy to think that human trafficking or sex trafficking doesn’t really happen, or you think “oh that’s too bad” and you get on with your life. But it is very real, so real that an elementary school puts up a very obvious poster every 5 feet of wall space.

Alison DeRooy


3 comments so far

  1. Ann DeRooy on

    Such huge social problems. Our efforts seem like such a small drop in the bucket. But perhaps if we can convince more people to add drops, the bucket will eventually fill.

  2. Carole Voss on


    Wow! Thanks for the powerful post. You’re right….trafficking is a HUGE issue that many people don’t realize exists, or else choose to ignore. It’s hard to know what to do to help, but there are good organizations out there that rescue women and give them hope through job training. Hard to imagine that these women have their lives stolen from them and are forced into a slavery consisting of sex, drugs, and isolation. As Christians, it’s important for us to find organizations that help and support them with our money as well as our prayers. I had a conversation with a woman recently, an educated Christian woman, who just had no idea that this type of slavery exists around the world,including the United States. So, education and awareness is a HUGE first step.

    Carole Voss (Theo’s mom)

  3. Ann DeRooy on

    The scarf dad gave me for Christmas was from a group called Women At Risk (WAR). I volunteered there once this summer with Mrs. Tacoma. They work to free women from sexual slavery around the world. I don’t know if they work in Cambodia. Also, Sarah Lance works with this issue in India with the Sari Bari group.

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