Meet Nhu

 

When we first met Nhu, we learned that the 12 year old Vietnamese girl and her family were being forced from the shack they called home so that the land could be developed into a parking lot.

While moving is a challenge for any family around the world, doing so in the midst of extreme poverty and stress is all the more difficult—a reality that Nhu’s family faced without the resources needed to secure a safe, stable home.

In the midst of the turmoil, we also learned that Nhu was in fourth grade, which is a great achievement for a child whose parents cannot read or write.

Why did Nhu’s family live in extreme poverty, you may ask?

The family’s story mirrored the experiences of countless others 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 Nhu 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 Nhu, who made greeting cards. Our prayer was that, by providing an alternative income, Nhu 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 Nhu lived. We were delighted when she was given a set of dentures and we got to enjoy her smiles.

Today, Nhu 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.