STORIES THAT INSPIRE A FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
What do you do when you’re a sixteen year old girl whose mother has been gone for three years...
and your heart ache’s for her as you fight to survive in the throws of deep poverty? What do you do when the people that do care for you beg you each day to quit school and work to provide for them? What do you do when you’re under this kind of pressure but deep in your heart you know that the way out isn’t the way your society tells you?
This is the struggle, and the thoughts that our friend Phun battles most days of her life. She lives on one of the largest former minefields in the world. She’s absolutely gorgeous and although not all of these questions have answers for her, she saw for a moment that someone cared and has been desperately running toward a new life ever since.
It all began four years ago when LandMine Design first began in this sweet village in Cambodia. Through the eyes of a 14 year old, she noticed that women were beginning to gather for something, something that began to change their lives. She noticed. She saw that they were earning an income from home; that a teacher was coming each day to care for them and teach them. She got closer each time they met; first watching from down the street, then taking a few steps closer to right outside the window and eventually stepping all the way inside just to see the life these women were experiencing. For the next three years, she would watch, listen, pray and learn with these women. Though not yet employed, she stayed close because it brought hope in her difficult situation.
"...she noticed that women were beginning to gather for something, something that began to change their lives."
Our team became friends with Phun and in June of 2016 we decided it was time to hire her into the Landmine Design program. Phun burst into tears upon being hired, she hadn't seen it coming that day. Joy erupted from her heart. You see, that very morning, her family had informed her that she would need to leave the village to work in neighboring Thailand. What her family didn’t fully understand was they were asking her to cross the third most heavily trafficked border in the world, illegally, to potentially become a slave for the rest of her life. This is the case for many families in poverty. With such desperation for basic needs and not enough understanding of the dangers of crossing a border to work, families encourage their young ones to leave and support them, inadvertently placing them in incredibly vulnerable positions. Phun came to our program desperate that day, but didn't say a thing.
Phun is a fighter. She not fights the atrocities that come with poverty, but fights against the pressures from her own family to stay in school. She has to fight to prove(instead of believe?) that an education and safe employment is a better way. Phun fights for her future against the friendly fire of others, even in her family. The softness of care in her eyes blends with tenacity and determination to demonstrate that there’s more, not only for herself but for her community as well.
Phun's story inspires a kind of care that encourages us to confidently step forward for ourselves and for others to see change become reality.
- Amreitha Jeeva, Co-Founder + Program Developer