Meet Nhi

 

When we met Nhi, the nine-year-old lived in a shack on land that her parents did not own and which the landlord planned to turn into a parking lot. That change would have been devastating for Nhi’s family, who did not have the resources they needed to afford a new home.

The young girl was quiet and sweet, and dreamed of becoming a teacher—although her job was to help her grandmother sell noodles to help her family make ends meet.

Nhi’s family lived in extreme poverty, like countless others who 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 Nhi 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. That’s why few Vietnamese children living in Cambodia in the early 2000s had any education.

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 Nhi, who made greeting cards. Our prayer was that, by providing an alternative income, Nhi and other impoverished Vietnamese children would be protected from the horrendous sex trade in Cambodia.

As the economy got better, so too did life for the Vietnamese community where Nhi lived.

Today, she 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.