Where would you start with statistics like these? Cambodia has the highest rate of child abandonment in South-East Asia. There are over 300, 000 disabled persons, ten percent of which are victims of landmines. One third of all Cambodian prostitutes are children. A phenomenal sixty percent of the population suffer from largely trauma induced mental disorders. Yet sadly, less than one percent of the national health budget, which is only $2.50 per person annually, is allocated to mental health care.
“Where do you start in a city like Phnom Penh, when so many children spend endless hours scavenging rubbish for a living?” This was the question facing WEC workers. Their answer, “You start with one child.”
The Bridge of Hope ministry launched in 2004 and the staff were told that, if in their first year 25 or 30 destitute children crossed over into a new life, they would have done really well.”
Each staff member at the Bridge is responsible for a small number of children. A child has ‘crossed the bridge” when he or she;
- has a home
- attends school
- has enough to eat each day
- does not need to work for a living
- has his/her emotional and physical needs met
- is linked up to a local church.
“All over the world millions of children at risk are waiting for someone to lead them over, across the bridge, to the other side. From the slums of Manila to the streets of Cairo, the fields are white. But there are still too few workers.”