On Thursday morning, 6 girls from our team got on a small bus to head to Precious Women, an organization we had visited a few days before. We had been asked to return to paint a mural on a wall of their new building. With no address, one phone number, and no knowledge of the Khmer language (other than hello!) to communicate with our bus driver, we headed off into Phnom Penh, singing along to ‘My Lighthouse’ played on Liz and Charlotte’s ukuleles.
Precious Women is an organization founded in Cambodia and fully run by local Cambodians, with powerful women as its leaders. Solida, who is the founder, has created the most incredible space and community, and has the vision to “see ALL exploited women working in Cambodia’s sex/entertainment industry live with dignity, equality, and hope.” Solida and her team are doing invaluable work here, changing lives through relationships and empowerment.
Painting the mural ended up being a beautifully messy collaborative process between us and the staff at Precious Women. Many layers of paint and sweat later, the vision that they intended for the space was realized, adding a personal touch to the previously grey wall. God gave us the time we needed for the lettering and some final touches that we initially didn’t think we’d have time for. We even thought we wouldn’t have time for lunch, but were glad we stopped for it - it was full of incredible homemade food and inspiring conversation with the staff. Through all the chaos, frustration, and doubt in our own artistic capability to do a painting worthy of being displayed on the wall of Precious Women’s new space, the day ended with all of us full of joy and hope. We are so grateful for grace, friendship, and the relationships we are forming here with amazing organizations and leaders like Solida.
Precious Women’s logo is a butterfly with a woman's silhouette, and they asked us to replicate the design on their wall. While painting, we spent some time reflecting on the beauty of a butterfly and how it goes through an incredible transformation to something so colourful and graceful. We noticed that each caterpillar already has the potential for that beauty inside of them, even though it’s not always visible. Similarly, Precious Women believes that the women they serve already have the potential for a beautiful life inherently within them. They strive to empower these women to realize that beauty by providing training programs and relationships in a supportive community. Ultimately, their mission directive is to show these women the love of God, who highlights the potential in them. The mural that we painted is in an area where a coffee station will be placed - it will be a space of conversation and loving community which will play a part in helping more and more women to realize their worth and value, and empower them to be freed from the exploitative sex/entertainment industry that controls so many young women.
Find out more about Precious Women here: preciouswomen.org