Dear Friends- This week, I would like to share some thoughts from Katie, who has spent several summers at Rapha House Cambodia hosting art therapy camps for our girls.
Stephanie Freed, US Director of Rapha House
There is a certain street here that we must go down every day. At night, in the open evening air, I see fluorescent lights and flashing signs that boast of “Karaoke!” and “Dancing.” Girls with white makeup, high heels, and tight, short skirts line the entrance to each building. The artificial light and thumping club music is superficial and very flashy. In my heart and head I know what this all means. The darkness tries to hide the fact that women and girls are being bought, sold, and used like property. Then, when they are no longer “of use” they are cast back into the darkness to be bought by someone else.
Mornings on this street are strangely quiet. Despite the absence of people, the light is revealing the street for what it is. The actual colors of the buildings are not bright and flashy, but faded and dull. Paint is peeling off the sides of the buildings and trash lines the streets. I imagine that the inhabitants are using this reprieve from the dark night to rest. The daylight exposes the brokenness and dirt of the street. The buildings lose any appeal that may have been there in the night, revealing old, grimy buildings attempting to entice someone in for a momentary, and honestly quite evil, “good time.”
As the sun travels west the street slowly begins to wake up. In the afternoon shops that were closed in the morning have opened up to reveal small salons scattered among the bars and clubs. Girls walk in to get their hair and makeup done. They are preparing for the night, for the moment when darkness falls.
When darkness falls you do not see the trash or the dilapidated state of the buildings. Again the street lights up in Vegas-esque display, girls walk to their post, preparing to be bought and sold for another night. Maybe these girls are there by complete choice, and I know that is often the initial reaction. Honestly I think this reaction is sort of a self-preservation tactic, a desire to not admit how dark the state of mankind can be.
More often than not the girls lining the entrances of those buildings are there because of intense pressure to support a family, or because of a drug addiction, or a “boyfriend” that needs some extra cash, or maybe a combination of those things. Some naive girls have been manipulated into that life without having any idea of what kind of darkness they were entering, without understanding that they were being forced into a life of darkness and bondage. An extended period of this oppression can make someone afraid of the light.
Afraid of what the light will reveal about themselves or that they cannot heal or be the same.
And so we hit a problem: you must be able to SEE what is going on, to see the trash and disrepair, before you know how to clean, fix, and heal. The initial steps into the light are the hardest. I wonder if those girls are not only slaves to a person, but having been bound in the darkness for so long, have become slaves to the darkness as well.
Today I was sitting on the ground and passing out art supplies to the Rapha girls. They play and laugh. They are healthy, smart, and compassionate. Despite their past of darkness, they are growing to become beautiful, confident, and strong young women. They entered the light, and the Light has made them grow. There is hope for the person caught in darkness.
It is my prayer that Light overcomes darkness everywhere and that when one is brought out of darkness and into the light they will fight to break the cycle of darkness and of the slavery to that darkness.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5