Child protection is one of our main focuses in outreach, anti-trafficking prevention, and aftercare services. Our team also works in a variety of ways to help facilitate rescues and repatriations (safe passage/returning home) for trafficked and exploited, Cambodian children, partnering with government officials, social workers, and other ministries / organizations to assist these children in need.
We believe that every child has the right to be raised in family. However, for some, it is difficult to find safe kin or family care options. In such cases, we work with a network of partners to place children in alternative, transitional or long-term care facilities.
Testimonies of children from Bithiah’s House.
Elizabeth* – He Gives Beauty for Ashes
Elizabeth was a child living on the streets. She would often go days with next to nothing to eat and spent her time working on the streets, collecting garbage and recyclables to make money for her family.
Elizabeth’s parents had divorced and moved to Thailand, so she and her three siblings were sent to live with their grandparents. Elizabeth, the oldest, was forced to live and work on the streets to make money for the family, while the other children got to live at home. Elizabeth’s grandmother would often beat her and didn’t allow her to sleep in the house. The only time Elizabeth would see her family was when she dropped off the money she earned. For several years, she was alone and abused. Her only comfort and support were other street children like herself.
After much prayer and searching, we found her again. She was thrilled to tell us that her father had returned and was going to allow her live at home. This was the first time we’d ever seen her smile. That day Elizabeth told us that her dream was to have a family that would love her. We were so excited for her and for the restoration that seemed to be happening.
However, about six months ago, we ran into her again. This time she told us that her father left and didn’t love her after all. She was devastated. Her dream for a family had been shattered, and yet again she was rejected and alone.
Several weeks ago we saw her on the streets. This time she was different. Something had changed. She couldn’t look us in the eyes and was burdened with fear and shame. We would speak to her, but she was too afraid to respond.
Trauma gripped her, and she stared blankly at the floor, as we tried to communicate with her. After several inquiries, asking if someone had hurt her, she began to motion with her hands to explain what happened. She couldn’t use her words but with her hands indicated that she had been sexually exploited.
After investigating her family and others in her community, it was confirmed. Elizabeth was being used as a sex slave. She was not safe and couldn’t stay on the streets any longer. So, our team began to work with the government and other local authorities to get her into safe care.
Elizabeth is now safe in our care and living in one of the Extreme Love Children’s Homes. Today, it’s hard to find her not smiling. We gave her a teddy bear as a welcome gift when she first arrived, and she said she’d never had a toy. There have been many firsts for Elizabeth – first time in a bed, first pillow, first new clothes and shoes, first time eating consistently, and the first time ever experiencing real love.
Elizabeth is now receiving counseling and healing for the trauma and pain she’s experienced. She now has her dream – a family that loves her. Through all the pain, through all the heartache, God saw it all, and God has provided a way. Elizabeth will always have enough and will fulfill her destiny. Thank you for partnering with us to make that dream possible.
*Not her real name.
Esther* – There is Always Hope
This is the story of “Esther” – a little girl with Down Syndrome who had been neglected, abused, repeatedly sold for sex, and cast aside. She was a child that no one wanted, a child with no voice, but not a child forgotten. The Lord saw her, and He helped us see her, too.
We first met Esther while on outreach in a local HIV village in Cambodia when God highlighted this precious little girl.
It was evident that she had been severely abused, with visible burn marks and scars all over her face and body. Soiled clothes and other signs made it apparent that she was also neglected and extremely malnourished.
We began to ask where she lived and found her mother in a nearby shack. We told her mom how beautiful her daughter was and how the Lord rejoiced over her. She was drunk and laughed at the comment. We asked what the little girl’s name was, the mother said she didn’t have a name; they just called her “fat.” Upset by this response, we asked if we could rename the girl “Esther,” and explained the call and destiny on her life. The mother agreed to the new name, so we began to speak it over little Esther. As we did, God worked a miracle. Esther, who had been mute, began decreeing her new name over herself, saying in Khmer, “My name is Esther.”
Soon after that, the battle for our little Esther began. We found out that she had been used for sex and treated worse than most animals (most likely because of her disability) – forced to sleep outside, naked, tortured, and abused. One day when we came for a visit, we discovered Esther naked with two men and her drunk mother. The men explained that they were only there to “play with Esther.” Esther’s mother was also known to frequently take her across the Thai border that was just behind their house, where it seems she was also used there.
For Esther, a tiny eight-year old girl who appeared half her age due to the malnourishment, neglect, and abuse that she had suffered – life was a horror. Perversion and wickedness had stolen her innocence and her voice, but our God is a redeemer, and His love never fails.
By diligently working with government officials and social workers, we were able to finally rescue little Esther. She is now safe in our XP home in Phnom Penh where she is looked after by a loving and caring team working to bring her into the fullness of God’s salvation, believing she will be healed and restored physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Esther is currently receiving specialized care for her needs and will continue to receive counseling, medical care, speech therapy, and education. During a recent medical evaluation, doctors found a heart defect that if left unattended may have significantly shortened her lifespan. We were able to get her the surgery that she needed, and Esther has now full recovered and has a strong heart and lungs. Medical professionals and child development specialists are continually amazed at her levels of healing -specifically her levels of intellect and speaking ability.
God did not forget Esther, and God did not allow her voice to be silenced. We were privileged to be able to assist in her rescue and rehabilitation, and to be a voice for her when she had none.
Hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Our Esther has touched our hearts and inspired us more than she will probably ever know. Hers is a voice that will forever speak – a voice of courage, a voice of hope, a voice of testimony that tells of God’s incredible love and saving grace for “the one.
Johnny* – Beloved of God
Johnny’s rescue began with a prayer. As our visiting team began to pray into activities for the week, they felt compelled to pray specifically for a rescue.
That week Patricia and Shirley were filming a documentary in a boarder city, called Poipet. They had been traveling all day on the dusty, bumpy roads looking for video footage. They were hungry, tired, and ready to turn back, but as they prayed, God told them to keep going. Reluctant, but pressing on in faith, they told their driver to continue following the road and listened carefully for the Spirit’s lead. Suddenly they arrived at an unmarked boarder crossing and saw a little boy.
In an auction setting, children may be numbered, lined up, and chosen to be sold. Johnny had escaped before he was resold, but scars on his hands and knees indicated that he had been drugged and used for labor for many months prior to his run away. Drugs allow the children to work faster and harder, and Johnny was no exception.
As the boarder guard apprehended little Johnny, he shook in fear and crouched under the table, clinging to the only safety separating him from the strangers he just met. Patricia and Shirley had compassion on him and immediately began working with the government and a local non-governmental organization that specialized in child aftercare to get him placed into safe and restorative care.
Later that night, Johnny transitioned into his new home. So scared and uncertain if the horrors that befell him would happen again, he shook violently with fear. Tears flooded his bed, as he cried out for someone to love him, for someone to hold him. Patricia was there that night and caressed him with songs of deliverance. With songs of hope, she comforted his cries, as only a mother could. Johnny learned that night that he was loved and accepted. He was finally safe.
Johnny then began his healing process through various counseling, medical, and prayer initiatives. Evaluations revealed that he had been severely sexually, along with the trauma and physical abuse he endured through forced drugs and labor. Later investigations also indicated a lifetime of neglect and abuse by his family members, with reports that his own mother sold him to the traffickers.
Johnny was one of five siblings but was assumed to have had an intellectual disability. He couldn’t speak from a young age, so he was treated like an animal and considered by his family to be of no value. When the family needed money, he was the first to be sold.
But God saw Johnny and saved him. Johnny, God’s beloved, is being transformed day-by-day. He has been diagnosed with Autism but has learned to speak and is now going to school. Johnny is very smart and is surpassing national standards for children with disabilities. He has reverted from anger and rage to a calm, compassionate disposition. Johnny has a bright future and hope for total restoration physically, emotionally, and spiritually – all because someone stopped for the one.
*Not his real name.