I will be returning to Cambodia in January, to work alongside my church mission team with children who have been rescued from human trafficking and slavery. (See posts during October/November 2014) I am writing stories for the children in the safe house, or at least trying to. It is no easy feat to put your heart into the mind of a small child who has undergone such horrific abuse and has absolutely nothing. My plan is to have the stories translated into Khmer and to read them, with an interpreter, during my days with the kids. On our first trip to Svay Pak, we asked the pastor at the safe house, “What can we do? What do you want us to do for these children?” He said, “Give them a reason to hope. Love them.” Here is my first story. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. The average age of a child in the safe house is about five to six.
JASMINE FINDS HOPE
There once was a little girl named Jasmine. She lived in a little house in Svay Pak with her mother and father, her grandma, and her baby brother. Jasmine was only eight years old but she had to work very hard. Sometimes, Jasmine would help her mother wash the clothes. Sometimes she would help her grandmother cook the rice. Sometimes, she would give her brother a bath. Jasmine couldn’t go to school because it was too far away and this made Jasmine very sad.
One day, Jasmine was down by the river watching her father who was going fishing in a big boat. She watched the boat go chug, chug, chug down the river. Jasmine sat down on the grass and stared at the river. It was a hot day and she was tired.
And that’s when it happened! A giant, rainbow-colored fish jumped out of the water and sat down in front of Jasmine! He was very big! Bigger than Jasmine!
“What are you doing?” he asked, a big smile on his face. “I am looking for a reason.” Jasmine said, in a sad voice. “A reason for what?” the fish asked. “A reason to hope.” she said, staring up at the sky.
The giant fish jumped into the river and swam in one direction, and then the other! He flipped in the air and there was a HUGE splash as he fell back into the water. His beautiful, rainbow colors sparkled in the sunlight! The fish yelled at her from the middle of the river!
YOU ARE THE REASON!
YOU ARE THE REASON TO HOPE!
AND YOU ARE WORTH IT!
“God has given you the gift of hope. With hope you can begin each day brand new and you can find ways to make a better life.”
And with that, the big fish gave Jasmine a giant smile, and jumped back into the river. She watched as he swam down the river, until he was out of sight.
The next day, Jasmine finished her chores and sat in a chair in front of her house, watching the people go by. She wondered about that magical fish and if she would ever see him again.
Just then, she saw her mother walking up the path, towards their house. She waved and her mother waved back. She had a very big smile on her face. “Why are you so happy, mother?” Jasmine asked. Her mother said, “I have very exciting news! They are building a school right down the street! I think that you will be able to go to school now.”
Jasmine jumped up from her chair and spun around in a circle, clapping her hands! Her dream was coming true! She could go to school! She understood now what the big fish had told her — how important it was to have hope! And she remembered that she was worth it!
Note: The Khmer name for Jasmine is Malis (pronounced Marlees). This is a popular name for Cambodian girls.