My heart sank as we flew over the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It seemed the whole country (about the size of Oklahoma) was under water.
Having traveled to Southeast Asia a couple of years ago, I was prepared to see poverty but I didn’t expect to see dire straits in the middle of a 20-year flood. It made living conditions extremely difficult for the 15 million people that inhabit the country.
I traveled for two weeks with a group from northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri to visit safe houses sponsored by Rapha House, a non-profit organization from Joplin, Mo. Rapha House rescues girls from human trafficking and sexual exploitation, some as young as 4.
The safe houses are recognized in the regions as facilities that help children. Children receive food, clothing, and shelter, as well as complete medical and dental care.
Psychological and social services promote each child and her family’s well-being. And every girl receives general education, along with aggressive judicial advocacy, whenever possible.
More information: www.raphahouse.org
I also visited an impoverished neighborhood where a family has taken the responsibility upon themselves to help as many children as they are able to as a prevention program.
Kids Club helps more than 400 kids who need basic things to sustain life, things we take for granted — food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, etc.
What I learned from these children and the people who sacrifice their time, home, money and everything they have to help these kids is that despite their situation they are still able to be joyful and loving, no matter what.
I saw many needs in Cambodia and was struck by the immensity of the task at hand but I loved and was given love and have returned to the states encouraged by the faith, love, and devotion to Jesus exhibited by the people I met at Rapha House, and Kid’s Club and those from the United States who give so much of themselves.
I even met two awesome folks that lived in Portales in the late 1970s-early 1980s (Randy and Chris Wheeler). So as always I’m amazed at how small a world we live in and the interdependency we have on one another and I’m humbled to have had the opportunity to experience the love of God in a very practical way.
Rebecca (Baca) Pullen grew up in Portales and graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 1991. Contact her at: