Day One:

MALIS’ STORY

Sold by Her Parents, Malis Discovers Her True Value

I am 22 years old now. I grew up in a very poor Cambodian family. My parents didn’t own land, so we worked as laborers on other people’s farms. My parents were very violent towards my siblings and me. We never felt love for them. We lived in fear and shame. I never went to school because I had to work all day. It was hard to imagine having a good future.

I still don’t believe my mother thought I had value. Money was more valuable to her than me. To them I was just a laborer. When my parents fell into debt, they sold me for $500 to a family.

The family treated me like a slave. The husband attempted to rape me many times, but I refused with all my strength. He hit me every time I refused. One day I decided to run away from the family, but I got caught. They hit me with electric wire. I stayed there, but I did not give up.

Finally, I escaped with a man I fell in love with. We got married. He introduced me to his parents and they rejected me because I was poor and homeless.

One day my husband and I were in a very serious car accident and my leg was broken. We went to the hospital for care and he left me and never came back. I felt rejected and hopeless. I wanted to kill myself because I thought that no one wanted me.

The hospital sent me to Hagar’s Women Shelter. I was so nervous when I arrived. I didn’t know anyone. I cried. My legs felt horrible. And, I did not have the will to live.

Hagar staff were persistent and encouraged me. Their words were so wonderful. Living in the shelter, gave me hope. I received care, love, counseling, food and other things I never expected to have in my life. Job training from Hagar’s Career Pathways Program in cosmetology really helped me recover. I have a skill that belongs to me and I can support myself. I have value and worth. Now I can say,

“I am priceless. I am more valuable than money.”

Even though my leg still hasn’t healed, Hagar staff keep praying for me. I have hope that God will heal me completely one day, and I just keep praying and waiting.

-Malis*