(ABC 6 News) – Saturday morning, Creating Hope 4 Cambodia held its 13th annual art market, where the proceeds go to give Cambodian children a better life.
Public education is not free in Cambodia like it is here in the United States. According to Creating Hope 4 Cambodia members, children as young as 5th grade are out of school and working to support their families. As a result, they become victims of the sex trade.
“I found out that there are children as young as six years old who are at risk of being sold in a brothel and I have never heard anything so terrible,” said the founder of the organization, Marti Ogren.
On a mission trip to Cambodia 15 years ago, Ogren came to this devastating realization of what life is like for the children living in Cambodia and knew what his new purpose was.
“The missionaries, I told them I had to do it,” explained Ogren. “I don’t know it and there’s nothing I can do.”
That’s how he found Creating Hope 4 Cambodia.
For the past 13 years, Ogren has held art markets and used the proceeds to give these children a better life.
“An uneducated boy or girl is more easily attracted to sex trafficking,” explains Creating Hope 4 Cambodia committee member Amy Majsterski. “So we came together and we gave these boys and girls scholarships and gave them a brighter future and saved their lives in a sense.”
Every $300 made at these markets pays for a year of tuition, uniforms and books for a child, according to Majsterski.
The market is made possible by hundreds of helping hands in Rochester, including organizations like MN Adult and Teen Challenge.
“The boys [of MN Adult and Teen Challenge] came to the gentlemen’s house in his garage and they made some birdhouses and some beautiful shelves. The women make food packages for the children,” Majsterski explained.
This year is the biggest market.
“We are changing lives. We help children, we currently support 150 school children. Some of them graduated from high school and went to college, that’s what I mean, it’s great,” added Ogren.
Creating Hope 4 Cambodia hopes to raise $45,000 to send 150 children to school this year.
For more information on how you can help, click here.