(Celebrating our freedom by seeking freedom for others)
How can I hold on to the memories, more than that, how can I forever have seared on my heart the stark reality of the darkest in humanity. Shouldn't we want to forget the pain of such a great atrocity? Never, by reliving the lives and stories of the Khmer people who have suffered and understand many still suffer we must honor their lives and come alongside the work God is already doing in this place.
The Khmer people who suffered under the Khmer Rouge, and are survivors of the genocide, are still entrenched in a culture of silence. The tribunal to bring the leaders of the Khmer Rouge to justice has been slow and very culturally and politically stalled. In the latest election for the Prime Minister the threat of retreating back to the days of unrest and civil war were touted by the current regimes leader if the country did not keep him in power.
There is always a fear that the atrocities that killed 2 million Khmer people as well as mixed Khmer and non Khmer ethnicity can return at any moment. How do you survive such post traumatic stress from seeing everyone around you brutally slaughtered, you silently accept the way of life that is handed you. Rooted in Buddhism and even tracing its heritage to Hinduism, there is a natural acceptance of the world the way it is within Cambodia. The only problem with this cultural norm is that there is no healing from the horrors of twenty five years of oppression including a four year genocide when it is accepted as a fact of life and almost normalized by numbness.
The level of poverty that this political turmoil has left the country in is astronomical when compared to the neighboring countries of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Even globally, the amount of people still living under preindustrial conditions is statistically far greater per capita than any other country in Asia.
The PTSD, the poverty and the political corruption have all played a hand in the multi billion dollar sex trafficking industry that is the heart of darkness in this country. 70% of Cambodian men have visited a brothel, it's culturally acceptable. However it isn't placed on signs or discussed in public forum where these girls come from and how they have come to be in this business of sex for money. At some point Stockholm syndrome kicks and the captive girl will start to accept this forced way of life as normal. This life is not normal.
This month of July I want to walk you through a little bit of history of the Cambodian genocide and paint a picture of why the world needs to hear its story. The only way to understand why Rapha House and other faith centered organizations are crucial to the healing of a country bathed in tragedy is to start with its history.