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In a country shadowed by extreme poverty and a legacy of genocide by the notorious Pol Pot regime 40 years ago, there is still a bright light in Cambodia. Twenty men and women, dedicating their lives to stand against the dark trade of sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, came together for team building at a retreat in the picturesque town of Sihanoukville on the southern coast of the country. I had the privilege of partnering with Brent Stenberg and Alicia Jones to facilitate several days of equipping these national leaders to strengthen their teams and provide them an opportunity to rest and recover.
Our training focused on building the resiliency needed in the midst of stressful jobs, helping them identify the unique gifts they each bring, both in their communication skills and personalities, and giving them tools to more effectively communicate and problem solve as management teams. We hoped to encourage them in their massive effort to promote child protection and provide intervention when young vulnerable girls get lured into this abusive industry.
Everyone enthusiastically engaged with each other and with the material we presented. Eager to build their skills at conflict resolution, the team interacted in activities that required them to communicate without speaking; discovering ways to work together when normal patterns of communication were absent. They identified major areas of conflict in their work settings and set about brainstorming ways to address these issues and resolve them.
I was inspired by them all. Not only do they have to navigate through the stress of vicarious trauma resulting from listening to the suffering of others, but so many of them also carry the memories of their own family suffering from the dark history of the Khmer Rouge army terrorizing the country from 1975-1979. Now, years later, they are not willing for others who are vulnerable to be lost to the evil intent of human traffickers. These courageous workers may not be able to change their past, but they are able to make a difference now and in the future. What a great message for us all!
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