Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cambodia 2011, A Story of Hope

Daughters of Cambodia. org

Daughters of Cambodia
Kampot Pepper

I happened upon a series of articles while perusing the online edition of the Orange County Register Newspaper. What caught my eye was the mention of a topic that I had written several posts about. That topic was Cambodia and the problem of human trafficking, namely the selling of young women as sex slaves, in many cases by their destitute families. The original post Sex Trafficking, The World's Second Oldest Crime still garners  30 to 40 visits each day, the obvious element drawing in lookers, but the reality is that over half, of the visits end up staying to read the whole article. I continued to write on this subject here and here. The series of articles in the Register are penned by reporter Tom Gordon who relates how an accident changed his life and in turn is changing the lives of people 8,220 miles across  the Pacific in Cambodia.

Tom begins his story like this.
I learned something in 2010.
I learned that your life – no matter how orderly and planned – can be turned upside down in seconds.
On the afternoon of May 13 I was sitting at my desk at The Register's Anaheim office doing what I normally do: supervising coverage of murderers, child molesters, traffic accidents, gas leaks and the like. I got a message from photographer Bruce Chambers about a traffic accident that had closed Main Street at Sycamore in West Orange.
Close to my house, I thought.
Bruce was on the way. It was one of a dozen accidents we cover during the course of a week.
A few minutes later I got a call from the trauma center at the UCI Medical Center.
They told me my wife had been out walking the dog, waiting at a stoplight, when two cars collided. One car jumped the curb and hit her. Cris was thrown on to the hood of a Dodge Neon and cracked the windshield with her head. Worse, her foot somehow had been caught underneath the car.
Tom Gordon goes on to relate how the accident prompted him to make a 17 hour journey to Cambodia a country he and his wife had visited during their vacations to South East Asia. Tom and his wife hatched a plan to bring back the rare Kampot pepper, grown only in the Kampot region of Cambodia, and introduce it to markets in the U.S. What unfolds is a story that will warm your heart as you learn of Tom's trip and how he enlists the help of the Daughters of Cambodia an organization that rescues and helps girls escape the scourge of human trafficking. Tom hired the organization to sew the pouches he would use to transport the pepper pods back to the United States.

I have linked the stories below and will continue to update this post with the continuing story of how Tom's efforts paid off in several restaurants introducing the peppers into their menus. I would also urge readers t to visit the Pepper Project web site for more information about what for me is an incredible story of turning a near tragedy into a labor of love that reaches far beyond the immediate surrounds of Tom and his wife Cris.

Read the whole wonderful series.

From pain, a pepper plant sprouts (DAY 1)

Pol Pot Wiped out People and Pepper

From prostitution to pepper

I was moved by this series, because like Tom, I served in Vietnam and came away with a feeling that our mission was not complete. Tom Gordon and his wife Cris, have earned my deepest respect for stepping forward and doing something positive to help a people who have suffered so much in the past thirty odd years since Cambodia lived through one of the worst genocides in the 20th century.

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