Chaya* encouraged her daughters to persevere as they stumbled through the potato fields. Her husband, Kiri,* carried their youngest as the family of five mustered what strength they could to walk 10 kilometers to the Thai border.
Their broker said they needed to take this ‘shortcut’ because of COVID-19 border closures—and to avoid Thai police. Chaya and Kiri knew they were migrating to Thailand illegally, yet they—like thousands of other impoverished Cambodian families—thought it was their only choice.
Chaya and Kiri had earned a meager income harvesting and selling palm fruit in Cambodia. It was barely enough to survive. Then the pandemic hit, and their work dried up altogether.
A neighbor offered to help them find jobs in Thailand—if they paid him $165. Desperate, Chaya and Kiri scraped together the money, selling their possessions and borrowing the rest from their landlord.
But Chaya and Kiri were being deceived. When the exhausted family arrived at the Thai border, an awaiting truck didn’t take them to the promised well-paying jobs. Instead, it delivered them to an employer that made them work 10 hour days for only $7.
Their life in Thailand became worse than it ever was in Cambodia. Chaya and Kiri never had enough to feed everyone. They gave most of their food to the children, but Chaya became so malnourished she could no longer breastfeed her baby.
“Sadly, these stories will continue to be told unless someone breaks the unsafe migration and trafficking cycle,” said a local Samaritan’s Purse staff member. Thanks to partners like you, this is what our team is doing on the Thai-Cambodia border—helping stop the exploitation of impoverished families and ministering to those in trouble far from home.
Our team met Chaya and Kiri after they fled their Thai employer, were arrested on the Cambodian border, and then sent to a COVID quarantine center.
“The family was slowly starving there,” said one of our staff members. “Chaya still could not breastfeed her baby, who cried from hunger and thirst.”
In great need, the family asked for help from the authorities, who called Samaritan’s Purse. “We conducted a swift survey to determine needs,” wrote our local staff. “We immediately brought them clothing and food [including milk for their baby].”
The team also provided Chaya and Kiri with transportation back to their village and more emergency food such as rice, noodles, canned fish, and oil. And they gave the couple safe migration training to help them avoid the traps of human traffickers in the future. “Chaya expressed that she has never seen people with such a kind heart,” our staff shared. “She admires people who love, respect, and value others like this.”
The staff also tended to the family’s spiritual needs and shared the Gospel. “After receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ, the whole family believed,” our team member rejoiced. “We handed them Bibles and prayed for them, asking God to continue to help them.”
In the past year, more than 6,700 people have found refuge and received medical care, food, water, and safe migration training through our team in Cambodia. Most importantly, God has opened many doors to point to Jesus.
In 2022, thousands more people will need assistance in this global hotspot for human trafficking. Your prayers and support will keep giving trafficked families hope and help in the Name of Jesus. “Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17, ESV).
*Name changed for security.
Across the world, every day, Samaritan’s Purse sees families and individuals who are enduring, or who are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, addiction, gangs, and more. From teaching women about safe migration to protecting children from exploitation and helping men free themselves from the bonds of addiction, your generous gifts can help restore their hope and empower individuals and families in Jesus’ Name.