Children of God

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Saoly, left, and her sister, Saolun, pray during a church service in their village in Cambodia.

They praise and thank God for the changes that have come to their lives.

The girls’ father, Sok Ouk, 50, used to spend most of his days drinking. He didn't care even though his family often went hungry three or four months out of the year. He and his wife, Samnang, fought every single day. Sometimes the arguments turned physical.

The fighting didn't stop at the parents. The children often fought among themselves, especially at mealtimes when they would argue over who got the food. Eighteen-year-old Saoly says she remembers that they often had only rice to eat and then not enough. When they couldn't grow enough rice to eat, they would have to borrow it, but then have to pay back double so they could never get ahead.

In 2004, Saoly joined World Vision's youth club where children learn about sanitation and hygiene, child protection, children’s rights, and God’s love for them. At first she’d been reluctant to join, but she saw other youth become more courageous and outspoken and she wanted to bring some of that bravery into her own life.

She describes herself before her youth club experience: "I was not courageous, I was not able to talk to people. Not able to join school as well. I don’t have words to say. I was like the isolated people." But after joining the youth club she didn't feel as isolated anymore.

The other members of the club knew that her family was in need so they saved money and donated rice to the family so that they would not have to go hungry.

Saoly and her siblings attended school irregularly. They needed to help their family earn money. During this time, she often would only go to school a couple of days a week. Finally, in grade 6 she stopped going to school altogether.

Sok gets emotional thinking those days, and his children’s lack of schooling. "Before they couldn't go to school because there was violence. They had heartache," he says. "They were embarrassed at school. They had heartache. It made it hard [for them].”

Parents and children now give thanks for the love, forgiveness and healing they’ve experienced.  

Photo©2015 World Vision, Laura Reinhardt

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