Meet Ha

 

Ha dreams of becoming a doctor, but the 12-year-old Vietnamese girl lives in extreme poverty.

Ha’s parents are one of countless people who have fled Vietnam for Cambodia to escape debt or jail time for crimes committed. Cambodia does not welcome these people, and Vietnamese immigrants had great difficulty finding work from 2000 to 2010, a decade of economic downturn for Cambodia’s economy.

Some found work by collecting recycling, selling food, or working construction. Many, however, succumbed to the hopelessness and addictions that often go hand-in-hand with poverty and prejudice. Gambling and alcoholism were coping mechanisms for many Vietnamese people in Cambodia during that time.

The burden then fell on children like Ha to provide for their families’ needs.

That’s why children as young as three could be seen sifting through garbage for recyclable materials. Often, the oldest daughter was expected to care for her younger siblings, while her parents are incapacitated. Ha cares for her two younger siblings and is at the top of her class at school—a rarity among the countless Vietnamese children who have no education in Cambodia.

When worst came to worst, some parents became so desperate that they sold their children into sex slavery to pay off debt and to fund their gambling, alcohol, and basic needs.

That’s why Work of Your Hand began working with children like Ha, who began making greeting cards for us several years ago. Our prayer was that, by providing an alternative income, Ha and other impoverished Vietnamese children would be protected from the horrendous sex trade in Cambodia.

We praise God that, as the economy got better, so too did life for the Vietnamese community where Ha lived. The girl has to pick garbage less often now and there is more opportunity for her parents to work and provide for their family.

Today, Ha is no longer making cards for Work of Your Hand and we are thankful that circumstances have changed for her family.

However, please continue to pray for the Vietnamese population in Cambodia. This vulnerable people group faces many challenges and often struggles. Our prayer is that God will provide for their needs and protect them from harm.