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[Jocelyn Post is an intern with the Center for Global Impact—World Next Door’s partner organization in Cambodia.
In addition to writing and taking pictures for CGI’s blogs, newsletters and promotional materials,
Jocelyn is a freelance photojournalist for WND.]
Welcome to the Kingdom of Wonder!
I glanced disoriented at the oversized postcard of Angkor Wat displayed at the end of the terminal walkway.
As I neared the stereotypical photo greeting introducing the growing tourism industry’s new country slogan, I felt the stares of my surroundings.
Evidently, I was the only redhead in brown floral rain boots holding a stuffed unicorn.
“What did I get myself into now?”
Hey again! It’s Jocelyn.
Last summer, I was a World Next Door intern in Kenya writing about WND’s partner organization, Tanari Trust.
Like many recent college graduates, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. While I like to write and travel, I haven’t quite discovered my “calling.” As theologian and writer Frederick Buechner writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I desire to discover that place.
So I sought an opportunity to continue learning from life’s unexpectedly wisest teachers—“the poor in spirit,” as Jesus referred to them, who daily recognize their need for God. I had been grieving Asia since the summer I backpacked through India and had wanted for a while to explore the issue of trafficking.
Through a series of totally random yet clearly intentional events, another partner of WND—the Center for Global Impact (CGI)—became the next right thing for right now on my journey. In 2010, Barry wrote about CGI’s efforts to fight the social injustice of human trafficking on his trip to Southeast Asia. Before the summer ended, I had secured an internship with CGI. And so I went for it.
In the six months between Kenya and Cambodia, I moved home to Baltimore, worked at a local coffee shop and fundraised like crazy.
Now I’m living in Phnom Penh, as CGI’s Resident Correspondent, and freelancing for WND about my experiences.
A Wondering Wanderer
Since my initial pondering at the Phnom Penh International Airport, I’ve wondered a lot about the Kingdom of Wonder.
Some of my musings are cultural curiosity.
“When did Angry Birds become a global phenomenon? And, how do the Khmer people crouch with their heels flat on the ground like that?”
While others are spiritual speculations…
“Who are monks underneath the orange robes? And, what do Buddhists believe about the afterlife?”
…or mental marvels.
“Eating rice with a spoon really does make more sense.”
Yet, most of my fascinations reside in emotional empathies:
The Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s unbelievably taking the lives of 3 million innocent Cambodians.
Continuous poverty characterized by seemingly inescapable cycles of educational inequality, inevitable natural disasters and generational physical and emotional abuse.
And perhaps the greatest unspeakable struggle—the existence of modern-day slavery.
More than a Trend
I confess that in my stereotypical social justice hipsterness, I initially became fascinated by trafficking because right now it’s trendy. But moving here—surrounded daily by its perpetrators and victims— is causing me to gain a genuine understanding of the issue.
I quickly learned that a global profit of nearly $32 billion a year is made by those involved in this criminal trade—nearly the same amount as the worldwide music industry! In addition, approximately 27 million people are trafficked each year—female and male—with between 20-50% being children under the age of 18.
But the most shocking information I came across is that the U.S. is a known country guilty of the transportation and receiving of national and international victims.
Slavery doesn’t just persist in the Majority World like I thought. It is happening all around me at home—in the Minority World—too.
Making a Global Impact
While there are no simple answers to many of my complicated questions, there are practical resolutions to some of my deeper conjectures.
Enter the Center for Global Impact—a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to creating alternative opportunities for girls and women to provide for themselves and their families in areas where domestic and sexual exploitation not only exist but are the norm.
CGI runs three vocational training programs for those at-risk of or affected by trafficking— Daughters, byTavi and the Culinary Training Center. The teenage girls participating in Daughters learn to become professional seamstresses through the creation of an annual line of fairly traded prom dresses sold in the U.S. Similarly, the women of byTavi are taught to sew stylish handbags, purses and i.d. wallets that can be purchased for fair wages abroad. And the young ladies of the Culinary Training Center are versed in cooking and customer excellence with the hopes of sustainable future employment.
Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing stories of horror converted into hope, shame turned into self-confidence and ruin leading restoration.
And although I might never understand the pronunciation of certain Khmer vowels or why traffic simultaneously flows towards and against you here, I anticipate humility, challenge and revelation while living in a confounding culture so unlike—yet like—my own.
- Consider your own culture’s conundrums. What do foreigners in your country struggle to understand? While it’s easy to believe your way’s the right way, the world is rich with various intelligent thoughts, beliefs and perspectives.
- Want a glimpse of daily life in the Kingdom of Wonder? Watch Same Same But Different—an independent film chronicling the true love story of a German backpacker and a Phnom Penh bar girl told from the point of view a fellow Westerner.
- If you’re curious for additional resources to further explore the realities of trafficking at home and abroad, www.humantrafficking.org—“A Web Resource for Combating Human Trafficking”—features holistic breakdowns of various countries’ contributions and what is being done regarding prevention and elimination.
- Interested in making a global impact? Learn about CGI’s vision to connect American individuals, groups and organizations with unique opportunities to engage global issues through their website.
About the Author: Jocelyn is a freelance photojournalist with World Next Door. She studied Creative Writing and Missions at Concordia University Irvine. She enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She also likes butterflies.