By Chelsea Lankes, writer for Abolition International
Many of you may have heard about Abolition’s jewelry line Penh Lenh, but you may not know the girl who got the wheel turning. Rachel Dodson, a dreamer and courageous soul who had a heart for girls in need of hope and a future, began her work with AI in the spring of 2012. The idea of creating a jewelry line floated in theory for about a year and came to fruition in February 2013 when she became the torchbearer of this small business in Cambodia. The goal of the jewelry line is to help victims find their identity through creativity.
Dodson’s first visit to Cambodia was awe-inspiring. The crowded markets, coffee shops, the hustle and bustle all captivated her and enticed her heart. She knew after only three weeks that she would be back. It wasn’t just the city that stole her away though, it was also the girls she had the opportunity to work with. She saw their transformation as they began to take ownership in the creative process of this jewelry line. A passion to succeed, a drive for perfection, and an overall enthusiasm surfaced in the girls. Such a stark contrast to and act of blazing rebellion against the life of trafficking they had been subjected to.
The act of creating and general work gave the girls a sense of purpose, but there were other elements that contributed to their renovation. Small acts of kindness on behalf of Dodson were so foreign to the girls. It’s shocking to know that what we find so trivial and almost entitled to, these girls find exceptional and surprising. The interaction she had with them sparked conversations that led to expression. Something we find so commonplace: the chance to dream. The Penh Lenh girls have never been afforded the right to dream because they were never given the chance to hope. This is the ultimate purpose of the jewelry line: to inspire hope and aspiration for a future in the survivors.
Though it’s Dodson’s job to motivate, teach, and inspire, the girls inspire her. God has worked on behalf of everyone involved in this small business. Dodson never really felt qualified for this job but she knew God called her to it because she made herself available to His will for her life. Though the job comes with many challenges and heartbreaks, the reward is far greater.
Dodson says, “I cannot imagine doing anything else right now. My relationship with God is the one thing that sustains me, truly. Those are not just nice words. He has shown me the true power of wonder working faith. Through working with the girls, I have learned what it means to be extravagantly generous. They do not own much, but what they do have, they would gladly give away. I think the biggest lesson God continues to teach me is that He fights for us, the battle is His, and the battle has already been won.”
Since working with AI in Cambodia, Dodson’s life is truly an adventure. Between eating mystery food, learning a different language, driving a moto, and even the general culture shock, life is one exciting moment after another. The thrill of winning hearts and minds through God’s love and giving victims a chance for a better life is the most exciting journey one could take. There are no rules when it comes to grace, and Dodson is all about living in a world where that grace abounds.
Please visit our store and support Dodson and the girls of Penh Lenh. Your purchase is a source of infinite encouragement for a young but growing small business.