Cambodia

Nikki Toyama-Szeto 03-16-2015
Unidentified Khmer girl in Kampong Phlukm, Cambodia. Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock

Unidentified Khmer girl in Kampong Phlukm, Cambodia. Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

My difference catches me off-guard. Entering into new situations, I’m just being myself — not suspecting anything, doing the things that I do — when an odd, slightly off comment, a stray remark makes me realize that the person across from me is not interacting with me. Instead, they are interacting with a perception of who they think people like me are: Asian, woman.

And usually that perception does not include “leader.”

I’m different sounding. I’m different looking. I’m different leading.

As a leader, one question has helped me try to stay in my sweet spot and stick to my true voice, even when it’s different from those around me. What is the unique joy that I bring to God’s heart? When I feel the blister forming from too many frictional interactions, it’s this question that takes me back to my center.

Embracing the differences God gave me to steward, to shelter in my body, I continue on, knowing that perhaps for someone, somewhere, this will be a good fit.

Aiyana Ehrman 01-20-2015

Home office concept. Photo via David Pereiras / Shutterstock.com

I am co-owner of an online boutique store that empowers survivors of trafficking with employment.

I am a social entrepreneur.

I am an abolitionist.

I am…uncomfortable with these kinds of labels.

Because at the end of the day, I’m very ordinary, and these descriptors seem to imply that I’m not.

I live an ordinary life. I wake at the crack of dawn to drive my kids to school and then return home to work, trying to get most of my business done during the hours that my children are at school. Snow days and random holidays are the bane of my work life, and the words, “Sorry, hon, I’m working right now. Give me a minute?” come out of my mouth more than I’d like. I spend the lion’s share of my days on my laptop, troubleshooting, responding to emails, thinking about future lines of clothing, and making sure that the expenses won’t be more than that month’s income. Sometimes, in the midst of the daily humdrum of life, I forget that what I’m doing really does make a difference, half a world away, in the lives of survivors of trafficking.

Brandon Hook 04-18-2013
Brandon Hook/Sojourners

Oxfam displayed images telling the story of Cambodian land grabbing. Brandon Hook/Sojourners

Photographs tell stories. At least, good ones usually do.

And there were some good pictures on display in Washington, D.C., for Oxfam America’s pop-up photo exhibit from acclaimed photographer Emma Hardy, whose work is regularly featured in The New York Times magazine, TIMEVanity Fair, and Vogue.

The images tell the particular stories of Cambodians directly affected by land grabbing, the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals, which in turn displaces the poor and vulnerable.

Dawn Cherie Araujo 04-04-2013

Sophoan Rath. Photo by Dawn Araujo.

Sophoan Rath, survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime

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