Paul* – The light shines brightest in the darkness
There are few words to express the horror that grips you when you see a child struggling for their life. What words can explain when you see a child trapped in the bonds of slavery – abused, neglected, and sold for a price? This was the reality for a little boy we call “Paul.”
Upon outreach to the Poipet hospital, our team discovered this child. Paul was a little, Cambodian boy that everyone else overlooked.
He was one that was tagged as “ugly” and, therefore, was sold for a cheaper price. Paul was five years old, yet resembled a one-year old. He was so malnourished that all you could see was skin, bones, and an oversized and misshaped head. His ribs protruded, making obvious a deformity, and his eyes crossed if he focused too long. He let out a sad cry for help that day; however, there was no energy or strength left in Paul. All that was heard was a weak attempt to make his voice known, but God heard Paul’s cry.
We were there that day to answer God’s call, and we listened as his buyer explained his story and background. We soon discovered that his only known caregiver had purchased him in Malaysia four years ago. Paul was trafficked at the age of one. His current caregiver had purchased him for $600 USD, taking pity on his deformity and current state of abuse. She had worked and married a man that worked with her in the begging ring but was not amused by the trafficker’s use of torture. Having traveled to Malaysia to first work as a maid, she, too, had been the victim of abuse.
Paul, like the other trafficked babies, was often put into cooking pots or a refrigerator to keep him quiet. One of the traffickers would actually squeeze Paul at the base of his ribcage to silence him if he cried. This had been done so often that Paul’s ribs were permanently deformed. The woman who purchased him said she often saw the trafficker throw the babies across the room. She estimated that around two babies per month were brought in by this trafficking ring to be sold, just like Paul. These babies are often sold to local couples desiring children or to beggars who choose to buy kids to help them make money. Paul was bought by his current caregiver for this very reason.
He was induced with sleeping pills and used to beg on the streets for four years of his life. Now, at the age of five, Paul had never learned to walk. His small and feeble legs could barely support him, as they never developed muscle tone. Paul’s malnutrition and frequent comatose state kept him immobile for the majority of his life. His head suffered the strain from years of lying on his back, and Paul had never learned to speak. In an effort to keep him silent, his caregiver had taught him a system on “clicks and clacks” so that they could communicate, yet Paul’s voice would never be fully known. However, today, Paul speaks!
We were able to work with the local government to get Paul placed into a safe and caring home. Paul had been so malnourished that the first couple days we cared for him he would actually store his food in his mouth. Paul was afraid to swallow, for fear that there may not be food after that meal. He would pack and store food on his cheeks and in the roof of his mouth, and we would find it hidden hours and sometimes days after a particular meal. However, after about six days of getting regular meals, Paul realized that he didn’t have to store food anymore. In about three days time, Paul started to gain strength and began walking and even learning to speak.
Today, Paul is on a fast road to healing and restoration. He is truly a miracle and is getting more restored day-by-day. Today, he is one of the happiest little boys you ever saw, and it is hard to see him not smiling or giggling. Today, Paul is seen, heard, and his destiny will come forth, because God’s love never fails!
*Not his real name.