B L O O M W I T H
freedom from pride or arrogance : the whole ordeal taught her humility.
Two years ago, a sweet 16 year old girl named Srey Mom was a part of our Landmine Design program. She was smart, compassionate, eager to learn, and simply stunning. As a teenager, she was similar to her first-world counterparts in the dreamy desires for romance and the belief that the grass would be greener somewhere else. With impulsiveness fitting to any 16 year old, Srey Mom decided to elope with her 17 year old boyfriend.
In the secret of night, with her husband-to-be, Srey Mom left her school, her job with Landmine Design, and the only home she had ever known to find new adventures in the greener grasses of Thailand.
With no identification, Srey Mom and her young husband soon realized their rights as immigrants were non-existent. What’s more, their abilities to find jobs were extremely limited. Somehow, they managed to find work as field hands on a Thai banana plantation. They made very little money. The work was hard and the conditions were primitive. They slept each night in the fields seeking shelter under the large banana tree leaves, hiding from immigration officials searching for illegal immigrants such as themselves. Journeying to markets to find food was even a dangerous adventure as traffickers lurked to find beautiful prey to trap; Srey Mom learned to avoid their hunt and stayed close to the ’safety’ of the banana fields. Srey Mom dug deep into her being to find the grit and determination to continue in those fields. It was also during these long and fear-filled days that Srey Mom spent countless hours crying, wishing she was back in her beloved village.
Fast forward to a few months ago when Srey Mom and her husband decided to return to the village that had been their home as children. The greener grass of Thailand proved to be far more dangerous and ugly than they could have imagined. It took several weeks after arriving in the village for Srey Mom to gather the courage to return to Landmine Design and the family she once knew from there. Srey Mom was welcomed back with jubilant excitement by each and every woman in the program. With her Landmine Design sisters, she shared about the hard life she had experienced in Thailand, the fears and darkness that hung over them the entire time. They listened. They cried with her. They simply hugged and loved her.
After a couple months, Srey Mom asked, in utter humility, if it would be possible to be hired back into the program. What joy it was to offer her a new spot in the program.
Srey Mom is a different woman today. The harsh world she experienced while working on a banana plantation has changed her. There is a certain sadness in her eyes as she watches other girls her same age — former classmates — who made different choices. These girls are not married; they did not leave the safety of their home and village to see and experience the exploitative world in which Srey Mom lived; they continue in their education as well as their employment. The contrast is stark. It is true, the sadness and regret is present as Srey Mom adjusts to her new reality. But there’s something else present as well. Srey Mom has a posture now that is laced with a beautiful humility. Not a humility that breaks the spirit; rather, it is a humility born out of adversity, struggle, and survival. It is a humility that now adorns her like a graceful crown.
While we wish Srey Mom had made different choices, our hearts are overwhelmed that she has returned. And we are honored to, once again, employ this changed woman into the Landmine Design Family…and equally honored to share her story with you.