There are about 1,200 kids who live on the streets in Phnom Penh. Between 10,000-20,000 children work on the streets in Cambodia.

Many of these kids sniff glue, an inhalant that causes similar feelings as being drunk, a loss of inhibition, and hallucinations.

Glue contains a solvent called toluene, which causes pleasure in the mind. It gives glue a high potential to be addictive, especially to a hungry, hurting, neglected child.

Inhaling glue slows down body function and can damage the heart, kidneys, brain, liver, bone marrow, and other organs. Long-term effects include memory loss, hearing loss, limb spasms, and permanent brain damage.

Boys sniffing glue on the streets are so common that passersby think nothing of seeing them anymore.


This month, it’s been an incredible blessing to work with Teen Challenge Cambodia at their boys’ centre. The centre is located in a rural area about an hour outside of Phnom Penh. The boys are identified by a partner organization, Hagar International, and if addicted to glue, they are brought to TCC to live for a year away from the temptations of the city. The boys are taught school classes, work-skills such as how to work on a farm, and most importantly, introduced to a relationship with their Father and Creator.


The boys/men's sleeping quarters at TCC.


Rice fields at the farm at TCC.
Being here with the boys has been incredible. The youngest boys, 11-14 years old, were the first to befriend us. They look younger than their ages – maybe because of the effects of glue - and they run around, laugh, play, get into mischief, just like any other carefree child. It’s only when I hear from the staff about their struggles – and stories of their pasts – that I realize the pain that must exist behind the carefree exterior. They have similar stories; a mother who is too poor to care for them, a family that saw them as another source of begging and income. Some have suffered physical, or even sexual abuse.


The boys and men at TCC.


They love their football.
I thank God so much for bringing me here. Cambodia has always been a country on my heart, and since coming here, that heart has only grown stronger. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 43 percent of its population under the age of 15. I knew it was poor, but I am only beginning to get acquainted with many of its social problems, such as human trafficking, extreme poverty, and cultural mindsets that allow things such as selling of children into the sex trade or sending them to work in the streets. Stories of families selling their children, or fathers raping their daughters are frequently in the news.


Something that has continually amazed me on this Race is how God really is the answer to everything. As a woman who hasn’t had much exposure to the drug world, much less experienced the incredible hardships of living on the streets, I am sometimes at a loss as to what I can give these boys. But, just like in Thailand with the bargirls, there is something very tangible I can give. The love of Jesus, expressed through our actions, our words, our lessons and games with them.


Learning about the days of Creation.

At church with Pastor Mab.

After their year is over, many of the boys will return to the environment from which they came. Many in the past have succumbed to the same temptations again, maybe doing even worse. “The difference is that this time, they will have the Holy Spirit,” observed my teammate Taryn. I am humbled and privileged to have a month in these boys’ lives, being used by God to impart something that will never fade away or be destroyed – the faith, love, and hope of God.


*facts found from Consortium for Street Children, Hagar International, and Surviving Drug Addiction