Painful realities in Cambodia meet with the hope of Christ.

By January 5, 2005

Cambodia (MNN)–It used to be that children were considered the wealth of a nation.

However, poverty can change all that. In fact, in many areas, that wealth has been twisted into a tool that degrades innocence.

Cambodia is a kingdom of children — half of the population of 12 million are under 18. Possibly due to the crippling poverty of the nation, thousands of children suffer horrible physical and sexual abuse.

Operation Mobilization’s Mercy Teams International are responding with “Project Freedom”. MTI Cambodia is part of a group of organisations that go (with government support) and raid brothels to steal the children back from their ‘owners’.

The children are then taken for physical and psychological evaluation and treatment and then temporarily cared for in ‘safe houses’ until a permanent place can be found for them out of the reach of the brothel owners.

It’s a challenging and potentially dangerous ministry, and one that requres much prayer, says a worker we’re calling ‘Elijah’. “The first approach that we are doing: outreach to the children, to the street–we are picking them up, identifying them and intervening. We hope to work with grass-root organizations, churches, local authorities, other NGO’s. Hopefully, they (partners) are able to refer to us for their (the child’s) intervention.”

Through the new Child Abuse Recovery Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a specialist team of workers will offer counselling, medical therapy, education and other services to child victims of sexual abuse and assault.

Elijah says, “We are looking for social workers, counselors, child therapists, family therapists, mental health professionals. At the same time, (we want) to offer credible professional mental health training to the locals so as to build up a new generation of the Christian mental health professionals.”

Pray for more skilled Christian workers to join this team– doctors and nurses, child psychologists, social workers, therapists and child abuse specialists are urgently needed.

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