Beauty From Ashes
About ten years ago, not long after the SHE Rescue Home opened, our team in Cambodia learned of two young girls who were being repeatedly exploited while their mother was away at work. Thankfully, our team was able to intervene and these sisters, who were just 10 and 12 years old at the time, were able to enter the care of our home to find safety and every restorative service necessary to see them fully healed and provided real hope for their future.
These sisters were brave, and with great courage committed to testifying in court in order to see justice served against their perpetrator, and true freedom and justice granted to themselves for all they had endured. Before the judge and courtroom these young sisters vulnerably shared their stories; stories of what they endured, of the pain they carried, and of the moments that paved way for horror and shame. Our team will never forget that moment, how proud of them they were for their courage to share and their tenacity & commitment to see justice service.
It was just moments later the unthinkable would ensue— as the judge dismissed the case, wanted to hear nothing further, and decided no punishment would be brought upon the perpetrator who walked free that day.
Our team can still recall the tuk tuk ride home with those two young sisters and the hopelessness and deep heartache that filled the air. The deep unrest that sank into everyones heart at the injustice that had just occurred before their eyes was tangible in the air. Leng*, the oldest sister, wrestled through her heartache.
“How is this OK!?”
“How can they do that to us!?”
She wrestled through confusion, anger, and deep, justified pain on behalf of her heart and that of her little sister, who also sat brokenhearted at the nightmare of injustice that had become their reality. Our team couldn’t decide what was worse - to be silent, or to be courageously and vulnerably loud and silenced anyway. Our team was angry, and without sight for what to do, young Leng* began declaring exactly what she would do. She declared over and over again,
“This is not OK! I’m going to be a lawyer someday to help girls like us! It’s not OK they would do this to us!”
A fire was lit deep inside her heart that day. One that repeated, saying “I can and I will.”
With this great determination Leng* continued her studies. She struggled through grade 12 and ended up failing her courses and not completing her studies. Just a while later, at age 20, she decided that was not the story she would write for herself and remembered the conviction that had settled deep into her heart that night she and her sister left the courtroom in their tuk tuk.
With this deeply seated passion to see justice served on behalf of so many girls just like herself, she returned to school. She committed herself to studying hard and staying focused, and she successfully graduated high school! With high school completed, she set her sights upon what she had always wanted and began committing herself to studying for her law exam.
In August of 2017 our team received news we’ll never forget as we learned that Leng* had officially been accepted into law school! Through her diligent efforts and compassionate heart to see justice brought to girls just like herself, the unthinkable, impossible miracle had become a reality. Leng* was going to law school.
Shortly after her acceptance our social workers were able to locate and nail down a scholarship for her, which has enabled her to not only attend, but to devote herself fully to her studies without worry of how she’ll manage to finance this dream that was birthed in her heart so many years ago.
Today she is thriving, with eyes set on her goal and a fire in her heart to see the landscape of injustice changed for so many girls like herself, not yet reached and rescued. She is one of our favorite stories - a story of redemption, a story of justice, and a story of writing beauty from what was once only a pile of ashes.
We can’t wait to share her journey with you as she continues on to not only graduate law school, but to join our efforts to powerfully declare human trafficking, exploitation, rape, and injustice against the lives of the vulnerable is NOT OK.
How You Can Help
Partner with us to change the lives of more people like *Leng