The Unveiling

Posted Sep 06, 2012 by 0 Comments

[Jocelyn 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.]

Dust masks are commonly worn in Cambodia for health reasons but also to cover shame.

So I have this theory about exposure. It’s simple: things should be exposed.

I recognize this belief is contrary to our natural human desires in which it appears beneficial and even sometimes necessary to keep things—especially the unfavorable—hidden.

Yet, there’s this unbelievable freedom in vulnerability—in everything both good and bad being fully known. And through grace, being also fully accepted, fully healed and fully transformed.  Paul writes about this kind of exposure to the church in Corinth like this,

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
(2 Corinthians 3:16-18a)

A Daughter’s Beginning

Funky fabrics are featured in the Daughters’ new ready-to-wear fashion line.

The first CGI Daughter, Socheata* (name has been changed), used to wear a dust mask.

While this peculiar fashion accessory isn’t uncommon in Cambodia—things are pretty dusty—she didn’t wear it for health reasons but out of shame.

Socheata first encountered the Center for Global Impact (CGI) when she wandered out of a nearby alley and crossed the street to the byTavi workshop. She had heard someone there might be able to help her, and she was willing to trust anyone.

A few days earlier, she had secured a contract to live and work as a “domestic helper” in Malaysia. She was promised a good and regular salary which she could send back home to her family, but some things about the job were strange. Most notably, she had to lie about her age to be employed by the maid agency and was expected to leave the coming weekend.

CGI Daughters’ unmistakable thumbprint logo signifies freedom instead of slavery.

When I heard the details of Socheata’s story, I was at best uneasy. Every day, I read articles in the local newspaper about innocent Cambodians being tricked into various forms of human trafficking. The thought of this happening to the shy girl who greets me daily with a heartfelt, “Good morning, teacher!”, followed by a sweet smile and a gentle hug, is unbearable.

With CGI’s help, Socheata was freed from the suspicious work contract. In the coming months, more teenage girls—including Socheata’s family, friends and neighbors—also began to approach CGI desiring better futures.

Before long, around a dozen girls became the first seamstresses producing a line of fairly traded prom dresses sold in the U.S. in what we now know as CGI Daughters.

Making Their Mark on the World

The Daughters study English, math, life skills and the Bible daily.

Today, the CGI Daughters line has expanded to include ready-to-wear fashions like wrap dresses and skirts, tanks and even handbags. Their slogan “Make Your Mark on the World” is accompanied by their thumbprint logo.

In Southeast Asia, those who can’t read or write sign their name—and too often their fate—with this unmistakable identifier. It’s the signature that almost enslaved Socheata in a line of work she wasn’t actually interested in pursuing. But now, because she had the courage to fight on her own behalf, it’s the signature that marks not only her handiwork but also her freedom.

Socheata is thriving among a community of like-minded girls her own age. In addition to receiving professional sewing training, she’s been taught how to cook, clean and care for her personal well-being. She’s also gaining career-advancing skills like the ability to read, speak and write in Khmer and English and perform basic math functions.

But most importantly, she’s been told about a God who loves and cherishes her as His own daughter.

Daughters of the King

That is the true motivation I see behind CGI Daughters— teenage girls and young women at-risk of or affected by the social injustice of human trafficking realizing and coming to believe in a Father who is good. Who not only provides for them but also wants the best for their lives.

Socheata’s (not pictured) smile now reflects health, happiness and hope.

Many of the girls participating in the program come so hungry for a safe place seeking a redemption that’s rare in their culture. And while they may enter with their faces toward the ground, they will leave with their heads held high having learned an employable skill and with the confidence that they can succeed at what they’re doing.

After hearing the story of Socheata’s past and witnessing her take the steps to actualize a better future, I can’t help but stand by my theory of exposure. Not only have Socheata’s scars been exposed, but they have also been accepted and healed. Because of what Socheata’s been through, who she is today depicts tangible transformation.

Socheata doesn’t wear the dust mask anymore. Rather, she has chosen to proudly reveal her face. And the sweet smile she welcomes me with each morning now reflects freedom—freedom to choose, freedom to overcome and freedom to flourish in the glory of her Father.

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Next Steps
    • Want to help a teenage girl across the globe realize her full potential? Become an advocate for CGI Daughters. Each girl participating in the program is sponsored for $300/month. Sponsorships can be individual or shared. Contact nicolekrajewski.cgi@gmail.com for more information.
    • CGI Daughters is expanding their line from fairly traded prom dresses to hip and trendy ready-to-wear fashion—including everything from wrap skirts to wristlets. Be on the lookout for their thumbprint logo as these products are introduced to local boutiques in the Indianapolis area and sold online.
    • Experience CGI Daughters yourself! CGI routinely hosts vision trips to Cambodia, and the Daughters absolutely love visitors. To begin planning your trip email myCGIstory@gmail.com.
    Next Steps

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.

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