I was standing outside the dining hall with Jenni, who directs our Siem Reap safe house in Cambodia, as we greeted girls making their way into the building for Saturday lunch.
We heard her bare feet slapping the concrete walkway as she ran towards us even before we turned to look at her. I laughed as I watched this little girl in a bright sundress careen towards us with pieces of sweaty hair plastered against her face. She collided with Jenni’s leg, wrapping her little arms around her waist for a quick side-hug. Jenni patted her back as she introduced this little Rapha girl to me who had only been placed with us recently. The “little” looked up at me and smiled a huge toothless grin, which took up her entire face before she pressed her hands together and gave me a polite and cultural greeting- a “choum reap sor”. Then she ran into the dining hall at top speed for lunch with her new sisters.
My heart both melted and broke in that moment.
Oh, she’s too little to be here. She doesn’t have her front teeth. She is five years old. She is sweaty from running and playing. She should only know running and playing, but she knows so much more.
Stepping into the lunchroom, I saw her at a table with a group of girls. She was eating rice with her fingers and slurping soup with a spoon that was way too big for her, and I couldn’t help but smile again. Yes, she is too little to be here. But she IS here. She is in a safe place where she can run and play. She can be a child. She can heal.
Sexual exploitation is a terrible thief, which steels so much from children. At Rapha House, we can’t do anything to change the past, but we can do everything possible to give our girls the opportunity to be children again.
Friends, you make these moments possible. You are the reason that toothless smiles can take place at Rapha House.
Thank you for partnering with us in hope and healing.
For just $40 per month, you can sponsor one of these at-risk boys or girls.
As many children in America prepare to go back to school this month, we invite you to consider sending a refugee child to school.
SPONSORSHIP IS NOT JUST FOR THE AT-RISK. IT'S FOR THE SURVIVORS.
We recognize that the power of healing knows no borders. God's kingdom is advancing and we need worldwide partners like you to help us care for these precious children. God's heart for justice and healing compels us to take action not just for children who are at-risk, but also for children who have survived trafficking and exploitation.