It was hard to understand her at first, because I hadn’t had coffee yet and having Khmer conversations on the phone is still hard. I thought she was inviting me to her village for a party tonight, but she was asking if I would be there because she wanted to meet me and tell me in person. And then I thought she meant she just could not come to the workshop this week because she’d be in the rice fields. Disappointing, but a great sign of responsibility and ownership from our volunteer trainers when they call us to tell us that they cannot make it to the workshop.
So I’ll see you next week then? No, no, she told me. Not s’rai, the rice fields. Thai, the country. She and her husband are out of money, and since she has struggled to produce enough breastmilk to feed her baby, she decided she had to go to Thailand to make money to send back. I’m scared you will be mad at me, she said. I gave her the best typical Khmer blessing I could muster over the phone, wishing her peace, health, luck, and a safe journey.
She didn’t give me the details, and I didn’t ask, but she’ll probably be sneaking across the border at an illegal crossing in the next day or so. I hope and pray she will not get drawn into trafficking rings, that she will find respectful and well-paying work, that she will not be abused or attacked or exploited, that she will be able to return home to her child and family soon.