What is stronger, than the human heart,
which shatters over and over and still lives. – Rupi Kaur
March 4, 2018 will forever be etched in my heart. It is a day that God has knitted in my heart for a long time. God has given me a passion for women and cycling. He has ignited a fire in my veins when it comes to fighting sex slavery and the objectification of women. Over time he has softened my fiery passion with a gentle heart and prepared me in so many ways for what will be one of the most remarkable days of my life. This day broke my heart into a million pieces and fulfilled me in so many ways, it left me humbled and broken and ready to take the next step forward in this journey.
We left the hotel early and drove out of Siem Reap to the countryside. Expansive fields stretched as far as the eye could see, blanketed beneath a clear blue sky. Soft white clouds and lonely trees sparsely freckled the sky. After driving for an hour we arrived at our first stop in Puok. We were visiting Sohorn at her beauty salon, where she also lived. She received a bike from 88bikes in 2016 and we were doing a follow up visit with her. We pulled up to her salon which was a small roadside shop. She wasn’t there when we arrived, but came up the driveway on a motorbike a few minutes later with groceries in tow. As she carried the bags inside a small fish got caught on her dress. Sohorn is a survivor of human-trafficking and with the help of AFESIP was able to start her own beauty salon. We decided to get our hair done while we were visiting with her. A shampoo, cut and blow dry cost two dollars. And the price was in no way indicative of the level of service or expertise. She probably spent fifteen minutes shampooing and massaging our scalps. It was extremely soothing and incredibly relaxing.
The shampoo bowl was in the back of the salon, maybe twelve feet from the entryway. To the right of the sink was Sohorn’s bedroom. Two wedding portraits hung on the wall in ornate frames, a queen size mattress lay on the ground. There was also a small chest of drawers and a few other storage containers set up around the mattress. There was no bathroom in Sohorn’s house, she used the shared bathroom on her landlord’s property. Even though we didn’t speak the same language Sohorn was eager to talk with us. Sothy helped translate for us, as she showed us her wedding album and explained that her husband worked as a commercial roofer in Siem Reap. She also proudly told us that she had a student working with her, another young girl that she was training to work in a salon. When Sohron finished shampooing my hair she walked me over to her station to comb and blow dry my hair. When she finished towel drying my hair she started laughing and held up the tangled nest my hair had become so I could see it in the mirror. I had to call Sothy over so I could tell her not to worry, she didn’t need to be gentle combing it out. As we were getting ready to leave Sohorn told us that she was going to have a baby this spring, she was beaming. We snapped some photos and said our goodbyes and Sohorn gave me a kiss on the cheek.