The Story of Ng
What six-year-old Ng wanted was what most girls her age want—a safe and loving home to grow up in. What she got was something entirely different.
One day, Ng’s life turned upside-down when her stepfather ripped a gold necklace from her mother’s neck and grabbed a knife to slit her throat. Ng screamed and instinctively threw herself towards her mother to protect her. Then her stepfather ripped Ng from her mother’s body and beat her until her small body crumpled unconscious. He then took all the family’s money and jewelry and left.
You might think that having her stepfather out of her life for good was the best thing that could have happened for Ng. But life was about to get extraordinarily more complicated for this little girl.
Forced to find money in order to eat and feed her four children, Ng’s mother took all her kids and moved into the city to find a job. There she made little more than a dollar a day. So Ng’s mother decided to do what seems inconceivable for any parent who is unfamiliar with the desperation borne from abject poverty. Ng’s mother sold her to an elderly man in order for her to work as his servant. Ng was just seven-years-old.
Ng’s ready and somewhat mischievous smile masks the darker truths about her life. As she tells that part of her story, her head sinks; and she nervously scrapes away the chipped polish off her fingernails.
After being sold at age seven to an elderly man by her mother, Ng found no sanctuary in the old man’s house. The other servants scolded her. And the people living there slapped her around and told her that she was worthless.
Upon her arrival, Ng was immediately put to work. Her small hands took a towel and dipped it over and over again into a bucket of soapy water as she cleaned the floor on her hands and knees. The other servants, unhappy with her progress, came by and hit her over the head whenever they passed her. That first day in the old man’s house, she washed the dishes, dried and put them away, swept and mopped the floor again, helped to do the laundry, and was told to massage the old man’s feet.
Later that night, she was awakened and told to go to the old man’s room. She remembers hearing the crickets outside and yawning as she padded across the floor to his bedside. Then she tells how he grabbed her and roughly tore her clothes off.
She doesn’t look up as she continues her story. She works away at the nail polish on her hands and says, “Koat tva bhap.” He was bad to me.
This was Ng’s nightmare. And it continued for weeks that turned to months and months that turned to years. Then after six years, she made good her escape.
The path Ng took to freedom was neither straight nor easy.
Someone at the old man’s house where she was a slave told her that her mother had moved. Desperate, she escaped into the jungle with only the clothes on her back.
Ng met up with an older woman who took her in and fed her. The woman knew her mother; and Ng’s hopes soared with thoughts of a reunion, but that dream was quickly dashed when the woman said that her mother had met another man and had moved away. The woman did not know where. Ng was just thirteen-years-old and all alone in the world.
After staying at the woman’s house a few days, Ng left. She didn’t want to be a burden to her, so she slept in the jungle, ate food from people’s trash and begged for money. People spurned her.
Once two young men grabbed her from behind and pushed her behind a house and raped her. With a heavy sigh, she says, “After they were done, I ran to a policeman. He thought I was just a beggar and scolded me. But then he noticed that my pants were ripped and bloody.” She was taken to an emergency shelter and transferred to Phnom Penh and was eventually brought to Rapha House.
When asked about what life at Rapha House has been like, Ng replies, “La ah.” Good.
She arrived malnourished, and her skin was darkened from constant exposure to the sun. The staff says that she was extremely difficult and would fall into long periods of deep depression.
But then something changed in Ng. She started making friends with the other girls there. She started going to school for the first time in her life and began learning to read and write both Khmer and English. Ng has started to trust again. She even has hopes for the future.
Ng has a long road ahead of her. But now, she is safe. And since Ng has no family other than us, we’re going to walk with her on the road to lasting freedom.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Story of Ng
The Story of Ng