Monday, September 23, 2013

First Day - Killing Fields and Hagar Staff

For any of you who haven't been to an Asian or third world country, the traffic is something you can't imagine.  Due to an early morning political show of protest, the losing party in the latest Presidential elections decided to block a couple of streets for a short time.  The effect was a city-wide traffic jam that caused us to be two hours late for our first meeting.  There must be ten times as many motor bikes as cars, and no one obeys and traffic laws.
If you know anything about Cambodia, then you've heard about the Killing Fields.  There's even a movie by that name.  The communist party, called Kymer Rouge, which was in power in the late 70's, tried implementing a purely agrarian society that w completely self-sufficient from the rest of the world.  They also forced everyone with an education or who were capitalists (business people) to move to the countryside and farm.  In the process they killed 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 of their own people, out of a total population of 8,000,000.  Included in that number are the children of the parents killed because the regime was afraid of revenge when the children grew up.  We visited one of the many sites where the killings took place.  Very depressing.  Lots of broken skulls, in fact, a fifty foot monument of broken skulls.  Because the rulers wanted to be certain they killed everyone that fit their criteria, they kept great records which allows for an accurate count of those killed... the ones that starved to death weren't listed, thus the range of 2-3 million.
To refresh you on why I'm on this trip, it's to see the work of Hagar International, a non-profit company whose main work is to restore the lives of women, girls, and recently boys who have been rescued from human trafficking and other severe physical and mental abuse.  Their mission statement is "Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life".  They work in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
Spent the rest of the day with Hagar staff who manage the counseling and education of the Hagar clients.  It's a long recovery process which on average takes several years.  Hagar has over sixty counselors that work with the people brought to them, usually by government agencies.  Once the client is deemed ready for reintegration to society they are either put into a family situation, or frequently a foster home as their own family has either disowned them or caused the abuse or slavery.
If they are uneducated, Hagar provides a three year "catch-up" program.   Check them out at   More tomorrow.

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