Cambodia (MNN) — You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Pregnant single moms in Cambodia live it out day after day.
Many vulnerable women end up having abortions because they feel like they have no other choice.
Extreme poverty drives them to eke out an existence in the muddy slums outside Poipet.
Each morning, they cross the border into Thailand with thousands of their peers, searching for enough money to make it through one more day.
“Amplify any of the issues that we have here in the United States many times over, and that’s what these young moms are experiencing,” says Kurt Dillinger, founder of LIFE International.
“When you have a couple of children, and you’re hardly able to feed those two, and then you become pregnant: it becomes extremely difficult.”
Abortion seems a better alternative to putting one more child at-risk of trafficking and exploitation. That’s why LIFE International teams make visits to countries like Cambodia to provide life-giving training.
Through the Hope Center, pro-life Cambodian Christians are offering scared moms-to-be another option.
The Hope Center
Before a foundation was laid or funds were raised, the idea for a Hope Center grew out of LIFE International’s pro-life training held in 2009.
At their training sessions, LIFE International staff works through God’s design for life, marriage, and family with national church leaders. They also discuss what happens when people live outside that intended plan, and how things like STDs and abortion factor in.
“They [church leaders] work through a whole period of repenting and recognizing what that sin was in their life,” Dillinger adds, “and they are freed up.”
From a newfound place of freedom, church leaders share what they’ve learned with their congregations and communities. Out of unfettered and empowered congregations and leaders come life-giving projects like the Hope Center.
Officially opened in 2013, the Hope Center shines as a beacon of Gospel light amid the slums outside Poipet.
Physical needs aren’t the only ones being met, though.
“So often, the Gospel does such powerful work in their hearts. When they come to know Jesus, there’s a hope. There is new energy; you can see the change in their eyes, and they understand that God is able,” Dillinger shares.
“We hear of miracles all the time: how God has helped–once they make choices for life–how God helps, every step of the way, through all of the challenges that they face.”
One prime example came via e-mail just a few days ago.
In an impoverished village about six kilometers (roughly four miles) from the Hope Center, national staff met *“Botum” — a young mom caring for her newborn and three-year-old son.
Along with Botum’s mother, they’re squatting on a piece of land outside Poipet with no running water, no toilet, no kitchen, and no money. Their “home sweet home” consists of shabby walls and a plastic roof.
Yet, amid rampant poverty, Botum and her small family have hope.
The outlook is a stark contrast to Botum’s perspective a few months ago. That’s when her husband left without warning. He hasn’t been seen since.
“Here she was: without a husband, pregnant, living in a little hut [with] a plastic roof,” says Dillinger. “She thought, ‘There’s no way I can have another baby; I need to abort this child.’”
Learning of Botum’s decision, her mother spoke up.
“Her mother reminded her of the training that they went through [in 2009],” Dillinger recalls.
“‘Remember that abortion is a sin. No matter how difficult it is, we need to give life to this baby.’”
After further discussion, Botum conceded and gave birth to a healthy baby girl a few days ago. According to LIFE International, the hospital sent her back to the shelter a few hours after she gave birth, because Botum has no money.
There’s room for you to get involved, too.
* name changed for security reasons