Send in the Architects: Working to End Sex-Trafficking in Cambodia
Cambodia is rich in people and potential. But each year, countless Cambodian women and young girls fall into the hands of sex traffickers working out of neighboring Thailand. The poverty-stricken border communities of Poipet are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.
Ross Lackey of MBI’s Partner Architects was working on a project with YWAM Battambang in Cambodia several years ago when friends introduced him to the founders of Freedom’s Promise, a trafficking prevention organization located in Poipet. Ross met with the Freedom’s Promise team and agreed to help design and execute a campus plan consolidating their community development and evangelism ministries into one effective hub accessible to the locals.
In January this year, Ross and intern-architect Gabe Smisson spent nearly two weeks on the ground in Cambodia and at the Freedom’s Promise site in Poipet.
“We’ve begun the largest of their campus buildings, a school for 500 students,” Ross reports. “The first foundation pilings were going in while we were there.
“The challenge of a project like this is searching for products, materials, and finishes in-country and out. Gabe and I visited multiple shops, suppliers, and stores to find products with the right mix of cost, durability, functionality, aesthetics, and availability. It all has to work together.
“But God had more plans for our trip than just finding products and materials,” Ross continues. “One evening, we went to dinner at a restaurant and had a ‘chance’ encounter with a friend of our contact. The gentleman happened to be dining alone at the restaurant when we arrived. After we were introduced, we invited the man to sit with us. He works with another Poipet slum ministry called LightBridge.
“He told us he’d been deputized to lead the construction of a new school for LightBridge. They would build the school on their site in the slum, but he had no idea where to start. Our friend grinned and said, ‘Well, do you know who you happen to be talking to?’
“Our friend explained that Gabe and I were architects and missionaries using our skills for missions. Our discussion resulted in a two-hour meeting the next day. We talked about processes and next steps and how Partner Architects might help with their project in the future. Currently, LightBridge is using some of Partner Architects’ online video resources to organize and direct their team.”
Ross concludes: “The LightBridge school project is now on Partner Architect’s radar because God ‘happened’ to bring us together in their time of need.”
Yes, God is on the move in Cambodia.
Find out more about Partner Architects at www.partnerarchitects.org.