About Godmothers

Last week I mentioned that I was losing weight in order to raise money for charity. Well, I'm pleased to announce that I have lost the first kilogramme, so all those who sponsored me £1 per kilogramme already owe me £1! Overall I hope to lost 20kg by 1st July and raise lots of money for my two chosen charities.

I promised that this week I would let you know how to sponsor me. Well, you'll have to wait another week or two, because first I want to tell you about one of the charities I am raising the money for.

Godmothers is run by a dear friend of mine, and supports the child victims of the sex-slave trade in Cambodia. Some years ago, my old school friend, Ruth, was touched by the story of a young girl who had been rescued from truly horrible and distressing circumstances by Somaly Mam, and was now being cared for and rehabilitated in a specialist centre. Unlike most people, Ruth didn't just flip the page and read the next news story - she contacted Somaly Mam and asked what she could do to help.

She was told about - and later visited - the girls. 63 of them in all, each one rescued from the sex trade. Some are as young as 3, some have been kept in cages, all of them have been repeatedly abused and raped. At the centre they work with specialist counsellors and psychologists, they are educated, taught a trade, and helped to recover from their ordeals and make good and productive lives for themselves as far as possible - many have been infected with HIV.

The centre, run by AFESIP, does wonderful work, and these girls are the lucky ones. But Ruth asked what else could be done. What did these girls need?

She was told that despite everything AFESIP and Somaly Mam could do, they had one real need. They each needed a mother. Many had been sold into slavery by their families (as had Somaly Mam herself) and were left with the overriding feeling that no one cared for them as individuals. Fostering or adopting were out of the question - being transplanted to a strange country where they didn't speak the language was more trauma in these girls' already traumatic lives - so Ruth decided to put together a team of "Godmothers", ordinary women who would take it upon themselves to "mother" just one of those girls; writing letters, sending gifts, sharing photographs and expressing love.

I am Godmother to a girl named Khom, one of the older girls at the centre. I have a letter and photographs from her, and I pray for her every day and send her regular letters and small gifts. She considers me her mother, and I consider her my daughter. I hope someday to meet her. All the children at the centre now have a "mother", so that need has been met, and Ruth has now moved on to helping with other needs.

During her visit she discovered that all the children and staff share toilet facilities that consist of two holes in the ground. So Ruth, through Godmothers, is now trying to raise £3,000 to install six properly plumbed toilets. And that's what half my sponsored slim money will go towards - making sure Khom and her "sisters" at least have nice toilets.

For more information about the work of AFESIP go to www.afesip.org. Godmothers does not yet have a website.

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