Cambodia: Beauty from Ashes

A story of hope and justice

Cambodia is a nation that is still stunted in many ways by the massacre that was led by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Within my first 10 minutes in the nation, I was offered to fire a gun, shoot a cow and to shoot a person, or “get a girl”. Anything seemed possible for a price. This created quite a contrast for my time working with Agape International Missions (AIM). While the Nation seemed to be struggling to carry out justice AIM moved into what was then the darkest corner, and largest hub of child sex trafficking in the world.

Not only did they rescue far more girls than the long list of large nonprofits that had come decades earlier, but they also introduced rehabilitation. These young boys and girls who had been purchased for sex earlier in their lives were now volunteering their time to help other children share their reality. This would have been the most beautiful thing I had experienced, but It went deeper. These rehabilitated workers of hope and justice not only broke all odds of what was expected of them, but the place they volunteered was the ex-brothel they were rescued from.

Because of AIM’s work, the brothel was shut down, then they purchased the building, and created a new hub. A hub of hope, and freedom. This was not just a building, but a center for true transformation.

There is a complicated web of issues leading to children being bought and sold. One of the most common reasons parents allowed this to happen to their children was to pay off a hospital bill. As farmers earning dividends of the harvest they worked for, they were unable to pay these bills. With this web of issues in mind, AIM began creating solutions to each problem.

This experience redefined my understanding of the word “transformation”  a very real way.

To learn more, get involved or give to AIM visit their website www.agapewebsite.org

Room 9. This room remains unchanged from the original brothel. Children would service as many as 12 clients a day. Some children even died in this room.

AIM building in Svay Pak

Rahab’s House in Svay Pak, Cambodia

The bedroom used to photograph a majority of the worlds child pornography is now the bedroom of pastor Shanta and his wife Puntan, who rescue children from those horrific situations

The bedroom used to photograph a majority of the worlds child pornography is now the bedroom of pastor Shanta and his wife Puntan, who rescue children from those horrific situations

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Sunday Service in the converted brothel

Rotanak spends his time pouring into neighborhood children teaching them self worth, love and the truth of the gospel, which is transforming Svay Pak

Rotanak spends his time pouring into neighborhood children teaching them self worth, love and the truth of the gospel, which is transforming Svay Pak

Patients wait in line for the free weekly medical clinic at the converted brothel ministry center

Patients wait in line for the free weekly medical clinic at the converted brothel ministry center

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Puntan runs health clinics, child care, and other ministries in Svay Pak

Puntan caring for the sick

Puntan caring for the sick at the clinic in Rahabs House

Pastor Shanta praying at a Sunday morning gathering

Pastor Shanta praying at a Sunday morning gathering

"It takes almost no effort to make a huge impact" states Jane Conwell a volunteer nurse with AIM

“It takes almost no effort to make a huge impact” states Jane Conwell a volunteer nurse with AIM

Gym in Rahab's House gives young men, drug dealers, and gang members alike a safe place to spend time. Transformation is reaching all demogrtaphics from this one roof

Gym in Rahab’s House gives young men, drug dealers, and gang members alike a safe place to spend time. Transformation is reaching all demographics from this one roof

Shanta watches as Rotanak leads youth program. Several children in this group have been rescued, and rehabilitated

Shanta watches as Rotanak leads youth program. Several children in this group have been rescued and rehabilitated

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Shanta works diligently to continue and further the work of AIM in Cambodia

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Monk

Elder

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A Story of Hope in Cambodia 2008
Cinematography Billy Scanlan, and Stephani Browne
Editing by Marvin Gary
Music by Taylor Neal used with permission
Story by Billy Scanlan
Still images in video by Matt Buckwalter