Meet Ly

 

When you become acquainted with global poverty, you hear many stories that do not have a happy ending—and Ly’s is one of them.

We met this 15-year-old Vietnamese girl in Cambodia, where her parents struggled to provide for her family’s needs. Ly’s father was a carpenter, and the teenager also worked to help make ends meet.

Like many other Vietnamese immigrants in Cambodia, Ly’s family viewed their teenager as a commodity they could sell to survive—a worldview that can be difficult to understand from the perspective of a parent or privileged individual living in North America.

Though Ly’s parents’ perspective was motivated in part by a different culture, it was even more so driven by desperation.

That’s why Ly used to work at a coffee shop, where less clothing worn by waitresses resulted in better sales. Establishments like this one are known as a stepping stone into prostitution, which is often the fate of Vietnamese children born to poverty-stricken families in Cambodia.

Fortunately, an international worker met Ly and saw that her vulnerability was being exploited. The teenager accepted that worker’s offer to help.  

For a time, Ly worked with us and learned the skill of making greeting cards, which allowed her to quit her job at the café yet continue supporting her family. Ly also began attending school and dreamed of working in a beauty salon when she was older.

But those dreams became disappointment when her family’s desperation reached a breaking point.

To save her parents money, the 15-year-old was married off to a man twice her age, like her sister before her. Ly had to quit school because she was now responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household tasks—as well as garbage picking to earn an income for her new family.

Though we celebrate the fact that Ly was not sold to a brothel as a sex slave, we grieve that she was married off due to poverty, rather than by choice.

Please pray for Ly, who no longer makes greeting cards for Work of Your Hand.

Please also lift up parents who do not grasp that their children’s value is far beyond any price tag, as well as the families who are forced by desperation to sell their little ones.

And please join the movement of people who are fighting to change those sad realities by purchasing Fair Trade and empowering people to provide for themselves.