by Jeff Cook
Things are not always what they seem. And discerning reality from fiction in Cambodia is made all the more difficult when having to overcome language and cultural barriers. That said, I usually go into things with my eyes wide open, a healthy suspicion, and a subtle expectation that things will turn out quite differently than anticipated.
In my previous two posts, I relayed a story about a family in crisis, and when I wrote about their circumstances and the steps being taken to assist them, I had no reason to doubt the authenticity of their plight. Sadly, after further fact checking by the pastor and individuals that work in the village where the family lives, witnesses to the event seem to unanimously contradict the uncle's depiction of what transpired.
To recap, the original story was that a man and a woman caring for their 15-year-old niece from Vietnam had rejected offers from powerful people in the village to sell the young girl into the sex trade. An argument ensued due to the man's unwillingness to sell his niece, after which the man and woman were run over by a car, leaving them broken and penniless. According to the villagers, however, it turns out that in all likelihood the man and woman were attempting to sell their niece, and when the trafficker came to give them money, the man demanded $100 more than the agreed upon price. At that point, the argument began which led to the man and woman being run over.
This turn of events does not change the fact that the young girl is in an extremely perilous state without education or a loving family. Thankfully, she has now completed her third week of school and is getting support from the church in her studies.
But what to do about the family? Previously I wrote about how the family was to begin receiving physical therapy this week. As far as I know, this has happened. But the question moving forward is: What does it mean to love this family? I do not think the man and woman should think that they are benefiting from lies they told to save face. But given their egregious actions how does one try to effect change through love? It is a delicate matter, especially given the cross-cultural aspects that need to be taken into account before any response is decided upon. Any suggestions are welcome; I return to the village on Easter Sunday to address the matter.