Friday, June 29, 2012

Cambodia Trip Update

Hello Friends!

Matthew and I wanted to provide an update on our progress toward the Cambodia Mission Trip, which I wrote about in more detail in a previous blog post. To summarize, we will be traveling to Cambodia August 15-17 to work with Agape International Missions around the issue of child sex trafficking in Svay Pak.

This weekend we are meeting with our team for a retreat to plan out activities for the trip and to spend time in prayer. As we pull away to prepare this weekend, you can be praying for us. Please pray that we would be productive in terms of planning, that the Lord would soften our hearts for the people we will be serving in Cambodia, and also that He would build a spirit of unity among the members of our team.

As far as support raising goes, thanks to generous donations from friends and family, we are funded at 27% of our $5,800 total goal, and we have a little over one month left to go. If you are considering partnering with us financially but have questions or concerns, please reach out to us. We are trusting the Lord to raise up a team of individuals who are passionate about justice and who long to see God's love reach all corners of this world.

Just to repeat some earlier information, our deadline for contributions is July 31. If you would like to make a contribution online, you can do so through our church’s website (go to this red link and then select “Donate Here”). Alternatively, if you would like to mail a check, please send to MPPC Mission Dept. / Cambodia STM Trip / 950 Santa Cruz Ave. / Menlo Park, CA 94025 with a note indicating that it applies to Matthew and Kristen Campbell.

Thanks again for your partnership and continued prayers!

Sincerely,
Matthew and Kristen Campbell

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Much Can A Surgical Operation Cost?

This is an eye-opening glimpse into the costs of various items in an operating room. Most people I have met seem to have no idea what a typical procedure costs or how much is charged per day in a hospital (or how widely these values can vary between facilities.) This video shows the types of items that a patient can expect to see on their bill for a surgical procedure and how much might be charged. This is one of the many reasons health care is so expensive and why financial protections are necessary to prevent financial ruin from unpredictable health needs.

Click this image to see the video at CNN.com.

What do you think? Do these dollar amounts surprise you?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sexual Assault in the Military

There have been a number of eye-opening articles about rape in the military lately, and I wanted to share a little about what I have learned. After reading the first article some months ago, I was saddened and disturbed. But I thought it was an isolated story. However, after reading probably a dozen articles over the last few months covering different tragic aspects of this issue, I have started to see a pattern in what is being reported and am seriously concerned. This is a terrible injustice to women serving our country, and something obviously needs to change!

Let's start with some numbers (my favorite thing!) Leon Panetta, the U.S. Defense Secretary, stated that there were 3,158 sexual assault cases reported in the military in 2010 and 3,191 in 2011. However, he stated that he believes the problem is much larger due to the limited number of victims willing to come forward and file a formal report (or perhaps due to being discouraged by superiors from filing a report). He estimates that the actual total could be closer to 19,000 victims a year. It is estimated that only 13.5% of U.S. military sexual assault victims report the crime. That is staggering! His words came shortly before the release of an award-winning documentary, "The Invisible War," which reports on sexual assault in the military. (I have not seen the film yet, but it is on my list to see soon.) According to another CNN article, in 2010, of those cases reported, less than 21% went to trial, and of those that were tried, 53% were convicted.

If you are in the military and rape a colleague, you have an estimated 86.5% chance of keeping your crime a secret and a 92% chance of avoiding a court-martial.

So why do so many continue to get away with this? According to a column by U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, many women who report rape by a commanding officer or colleague "face ridicule, demotion, investigation that includes a review of their sexual history, and even involuntary discharge." In her article, Speier sites specific cases of women who were told to buck up and move on or ignored altogether. For example, she explains, "In 2006, when Marine Lt. Elle Helmer reported to her commander that a superior officer assaulted and raped her the night before, her colonel discouraged her from obtaining a rape kit. In spite of his objections, she sought a thorough medical investigation. Helmer appealed to her rapists's supervisor, who still refused to press charges or significantly punish the assailant. He said, 'You're from Colorado - you're tough. You need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off....I can't babysit you all of the time."

When I read that, I was completely and utterly disgusted. That is an insult to this particular woman, to women in general, and to the honor of the majority of men and women serving our military who don't violate the trust and bodies of their colleagues. Those who do should be investigated in a fair and complete way, and if found guilty, punished in a consistent manner with how the law treats non-military offenders.

Here is another excerpt from a previous article written by Representative Speier:

"According to [Andrea] Neutzling, in 2002, while serving in South Korea, she was sexually assaulted by an intoxicated soldier she knew. She reported the assault to her commander, who gave the assailant a slap on the wrist punishment of five days of base restriction. Three years later in New Jersey, preparing for deployment to Iraq with a military police unit, she was again assaulted by a fellow soldier. Fearing nothing would happen if she reported the attack, Neutzling instead kept the incident to herself.

"A month later in Iraq, she said she was raped by two soldiers who threatened to beat her if she struggled. Although she suffered serious bodily injuries from the rape, she chose not to report it; instead she slept on a cot with her rifle pointed toward the door for the first few days after the attack.

"Soon, the chaplain was told about the attack by a woman in Neutzling's unit who reported that the perpetrators were showing a video of the rape to others. But her chaplain didn't believe her, later telling Neutzling, 'You don't act like a rape victim.'

"The commander said it was a 'they said, she said' situation, and because she was married at the time of the incident, he threatened to charge her with adultery. The men who raped Neutzling were never charged, investigated or penalized.

"In the current military chain of command structure, Neutzling's commander and staff sergeant did nothing wrong. Commanders can decide whether to investigate and issue virtually any punishment or, in this case, no punishment at all - they have complete authority and discretion over how a degrading and violent assault is handled."

Speier also states that "in the U.S. military, a woman is more likely to be raped by a co-worker than killed by the enemy."

CNN reported earlier this year on a lawsuit involving eight women who claim they were sexually assaulted during their time in the military and faced retaliation after reporting the abuse. One of the women filing charges is Arian Klay, a former Marine Corp. officer who served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009. She alleges that she was gang raped at her home by a senior officer and his friend. After reporting the incident, the officer was eventually found guilty of adultery and indecent language by a military court, carrying a sentence of 45 days in military confinement. She claims that since two men reported it was consensual and she alone reported it was forced, the military basically sided with the officer. Of course, she is concerned that this logic means the more people who rape you, the stronger their case becomes.

In yet another article from April, CNN covered the stories of women who received a "psychiatric diagnosis and military discharge after reporting a sexual assault." These women served in various branches of the military and were diagnosed with personality disorders or other psychiatric conditions, which they claim were completely false. These conditions were then used as grounds to oust them from the service.

Although I cannot personally validate any of these stories, the sheer number of victims and consistency of reporting on this issue leads me to believe that it is a genuine problem. Based on what I have read, it seems that the culture of the military encourages recruits to submit to the orders of their superiors (even if that superior is telling them not to report a crime against themselves or a colleague.) Furthermore, the structure of command apparently also gives significant discretion to supervisors to investigate and punish many infractions as they see fit.

Representative Jackie Speier has proposed the STOP Act (H.R. 3435), which she says "takes complete authority and discretion out of the hands of commanders and gives that authority to objective experts. The bipartisan STOP Act creates a new office of oversight and response to handle all possible cases of rape and sexual assault in the military, enabling unbiased personnel to determine the appropriate path of action for each report. The office would be housed in the Department of Defense and staffed by civilian and military experts trained to manage investigations of sexual assault."

Although I do not know all of the details of her proposal, the concept seems like an important and necessary step to preserve the safety of - and ensure justice for - our troops.

I believe the men and women who serve in our military make a tremendous sacrifice for all of us. And I believe that most of these men and women are people of general good will. All of them deserve to be treated fairly. I am appalled that so many of our service members are victims of sexual assault. It is clear that the military must take further steps to prevent the problem and to ensure that every victim gets a fair investigation, with the opportunity for their assailant to be tried in a military court, including punishments that match the severity of the trauma inflicted by such violence.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Some Benefits and Limits of Statistics


One of my readers commented on my post about sex work and childhood abuse that I was essentially dehumanizing the issue by using statistics. While I think the reader may have made some incorrect assumptions about my motives, I think he or she brought up a valid point on some level, which is that statistics have their limits. So I thought I would write a brief post about the benefits and limits of biostatistical information. This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list of all the issues that arise around statistics, but perhaps it can get your mental juices flowing to think more deeply about the articles you read.

Firstly, I would like to give a little pitch for why statistics are important. Have you ever heard someone say something like this (or have you said it yourself)?

  • My friend got in a high speed car accident, and the only injury she sustained was a bruise from the seat belt; if she had not been wearing it, she would have no seat belt bruise, and that proves that you're safer without wearing seat belts!
  • I have gone to McDonalds every week for fifty years and am in great health, so those fast food nay-sayers don't know what they're talking about.
  • My cousin did not go to college, and she is making twice as much as I do, despite my degree. College does not help you get a higher paying job. I would not recommend that others go.
  • None of my sexually active friends got infections back when we were teenagers, so it's not something I really worry about for my own teenage daughter.
  • My aunt smoked for 75 years and lived to be 90 years old, so that just goes to show that smoking isn't as bad as they say.

These statements represent a very common logical fallacy in our culture, which is the assumption that a personal experience can be used to make statements about the entire population. How do you know that your personal experience is the norm and not the exception? Even if you believe it is the norm among your group of friends or acquaintances, how do you know your group of friends is the norm and not the exception compared to other groups? The answer is, without information about the experiences of others, you don't actually know.

This is one of the reasons statistics are useful. They show what the norm of experience is. That doesn't mean they show what happens with every single person in every single case, but they can show what is most likely to happen in a given population. So to counter one of the sample statements above, even though you think college was useless because you have a lower paying job than your less educated cousin, statistics can show that you and your cousin are the anomalies. Based on information I shared in a previous blog post, the median income for someone with a bachelors degree is 65% more than the median income for someone with only a high school diploma. That median is not the amount every person makes; it just implies that you probably have a better shot of making more with the degree. In all likelihood, you are one of the 50% of people with a degree who earns below the median income for your education level, and your cousin is above the median for his or her education level. That doesn't negate the usefulness of the median information for the population on average. Similarly, if a report shows that 75% of prostitutes were abused as children, as I wrote about in another earlier blog post, and you personally are a sex worker who was not abused, then that means you fall into the minority 25%, as do one in four of your colleagues; that is a large enough minority that we would expect there to be significant numbers who were not abused, and the fact that you are someone or know someone outside of the majority does not prove that the 75% figure is wrong.


Because statistics represent what happens over an entire population, they are especially useful for making health policy decisions. It is natural for us to want to take actions that feel right to us, but we must also consider if they are based on the reality of a population. For example, one politician might feel that smoking is a good thing, because it curbs his appetite and relaxes him after a long day. None of his friends have experienced major smoking-related health problems, so he believes very strongly that it is good for his health. Based on his feelings, he may want to ensure that everyone has greater access to cigarettes at as young an age as possible. His intuition tells him that this will benefit the health of the population. Yet because we have statistical information showing that smoking is harmful and addictive, on average, we pay attention to the statistics rather than one person's experience and feelings, and we have laws against selling cigarettes to minors. This seems like a common sense approach, but we often forget to ask if policy decisions have a basis in reality or in statistically proven effectiveness. Of course, we cannot always rely on statistics. Sometimes, we want to try something new, in which case we cannot know how it will pan out. And often times, the particulars of one population may be so different than those of another population that we do not trust the results that happened elsewhere to apply to the new population. But when it comes to many health decisions and initiatives that have been tested in a variety of groups, we can use statistics above our feelings to figure out what will be most effective.

So we have established that statistics help ground us in the realities of a population as a whole, beyond our own experiences and feelings. But as I stated in the introduction, statistics do have their limits. And it is often left up to us as consumers of the media to filter through the plethora of information and to figure out how reliable/useful a given statistic is. So how do you comb through the constant bombardment of data?

One thing to consider is that not all statistics are created equal. The structure of a study, such as the number of people studied, the way the questions were worded, the way lab tests were taken, or the types of people sampled, can all lead the data to represent underlying realities differently. When researchers craft questions, for example, they should try to maintain some neutrality that will not influence the answer. Imagine a study to determine patient opinions of their doctor. One question might read, "A lot of people in this town hate Doctor John Smith. On a scale of one to ten, how much do you hate Dr. Smith?" This question automatically introduces bias by telling the interviewee that others have a negative opinion and may affect the thoughts of the participant or their comfort with expressing a certain opinion. A less biased question might say, "On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel as a whole about Doctor John Smith, with ten being highly satisfied and one being highly dissatisfied?" Some people might even read that question and see issues, since highly satisfied is stated before highly dissatisfied, and the question is very vague about what aspects of the doctor the interviewee likes or does not like. Is this a question about accurate diagnosis, turnaround time, personality, appearance? As you can see, collecting statistics in an interview or survey format takes a lot of forethought. Even biostatistics collected from lab results, which do not involve direct questioning, can have elements of bias if not all labs were analyzed using the same standard procedure, if the standard procedure is more likely to erroneously produce a certain result, or if the participants were chosen in a biased fashion, etc.  (For an example of how sample selection and response choice can skew a statistic, read about the 1936 presidential campaign polling gaff.) Sometimes I even read articles that cause me to question whether the outcome being tested answers the question it is intending to quantify.


Let's look at another way statistics can misrepresent a situation. Imagine that you read a study stating that 75% of 13-year-old students at St. Catherine's school menstruate, but only 35% of 13-year-old students at Sedgwick menstruate. At first glance, you would say, wow, this is a major discrepancy! Something strange must be going on to cause this big gap between the two schools! But what if I told you St. Catherine's was an all-girls school and Sedgwick was a mixed gender school. You would have to ask, does the 35% statistic at Sedgwick include the boys (who of course would not menstruate at any age)? If so, that changes everything! This is a somewhat silly and made-up example, as this sort of glaring reporting difference is not common in my experience. But it illustrates the point well - we need to consider what is really being represented by a statistic, not just what the face-value number is.

Another common issue you may face in understanding biostatistics is confusing correlation with causation. Just because two things are statistically associated does not mean that one causes the other. For example, in the above scenario, you could say that a student is more likely to menstruate if he or she attends St. Catherine's than if he or she attends Sedgwick. That is a correlation which is proven by the statistics 75% and 35%. A causation statement would say that attending St. Catherine's causes menstruation to begin by age 13. Even though we know menstruation and school are correlated statistically, without more information on how many girls are at Sedgwick (compared to how many boys), it would be silly to conclude that the school attended is what actually causes menstruation. The statistic alerts us to something else underlying the issue, indicating that we need to dig deeper to find the cause - and it turns out the cause for the correlation may simply be the fact that there are only girls at St. Catherine's and both sexes at Sedgwick. If we adjusted the data to account for this difference, we might find that the rates among girls alone were identical at both schools. There is really no way to know just by looking at the values presented.

Let's take another example of causation versus correlation, this time from real life statistics. Imagine you are deciding between moving to California or to Oklahoma and are concerned about the health impact of where you live. You read on the CDC website that California has a lung cancer rate under 59.5 per 100,000 people, but Oklahoma is over 73.8. Based on this information, you see a correlation between living in Oklahoma and getting lung cancer. At face value, this indicates that you may want to move to California to decrease your risk. However, you must ask yourself, is it the act of living in Oklahoma that causes lung cancer, or is there something else going on under the surface of these statistics?

As it turns out, when you dig deeper, you find that the Huffington Post reported on a Gallup-Healthways pole showing 15.7% of individuals smoke in California and 26.6% of individuals smoke in Oklahoma. So the cause of the lung cancer may actually be cigarettes, at least in part, as opposed to the physical placement of one's home in Oklahoma. Other factors could also contribute, such as a higher percentage of people working in industries exposed to chemicals, socioeconomic concerns, access to health care, a population that eats certain foods, or a population that exercises less, etc. These things seem more likely to cause the different cancer rates, even though the cancer rate is correlated to the placement of your home. (Note: almost any factor may  be correlation and not causation - specific studies are needed to show that one thing actually causes another.)  It is true that even taking into account these lifestyle differences, it is still possible that there are environmental factors contributing to the health in each state, such as air pollution or water contaminants, or certain laws that affect population health. These things could affect the cancer rates and may legitimately lead you to prefer living in one state over the other for health reasons. But it is also possible that if you personally do not smoke or work with chemicals, and if you personally take care of your overall health, it may be that your chances of getting lung cancer are more or less the same whether you live in California or Oklahoma. The high-level information we have above is not enough to say for sure. You would need to dig deeper than the surface level cancer rates to determine your actual risk in each location.

Although there is plenty of reason to question the validity of the statistics you read, there is also a lot of misinformation floating around the internet about what makes a good study. For example, I have often seen people commenting on articles, "Well, this is ridiculous. They studied 3,000 people, but there are 300 million people in the U.S., so this is junk science and is not at all representative of everyone." However, if you take an introductory statistics class, you will learn that a sample size of 3,000, if properly selected to represent the population well, is actually a pretty large sample. Statistics is largely based around the ability to apply results from a sample to explain an entire population, and there is a lot of fancy math that goes into determining how accurately a sample represents a population. Now, if all 3,000 of the people sampled lived in one town or were all of the same ethnicity or all shared the same diet, then you would have to take other factors into consideration before simply assuming the results apply to everyone in the country. (Then again, if everyone was different with regards to those attributes, you would have to consider whether those differences affected the outcome being measured.)  But many studies consider a wide variety of factors and adjustments when crafting a sample or analyzing the results. The type of study being conducted and the factors that may influence the outcomes can change the number and type of subjects needed to produce a reliable result. The lesson here is not to throw out all statistics that come from a sample. Rather, what is important is to think critically about what a statistic is saying, to question how it was constructed, and to put these factors into consideration when you read about a study.

Yet another pitfall with statistics is the one my reader brought up in his or her comments, which is the tendency to lose site of the individuals represented. For example, we may talk about a program that will help 95% of people in a particular quandary and feel that the job is done once the program is implemented; yet the statistic may mask the dreadful plight of the 5% who are not helped. Without a connection to the actual people affected, it is hard to understand the human impact. Or when we talk about the 75% of prostitutes being abused as children, it is easy to link any conclusions about that sub-group with the entire group, when certain conclusions may or may not apply to every member of that 75% or not at all to the other 25%.

Some people believe that you should not use statistics to speak about an issue at all if you have not personally interacted with the population or been affected by the issue. They might call that dehumanizing. I tend to disagree and would simply say that you ought to be careful. As I wrote in my response to the comments on my earlier blog post, I do not believe it is inherently wrong to comment on statistical findings when I am not the individual who conducted the research myself or when I am not friendly with individuals affected. If an issue is important, I believe that many people who care should undertake the task of bringing others' research into the public consciousness, not just those with firsthand knowledge. I write about a wide variety of mental and physical health-related subjects, and I rely on the entirety of academia to support this undertaking. Of course, I think it is preferable to have both statistical findings and personal experience in a blog, as long as personal experiences are not presented as if they are statistically significant. Depending on the subject, I will have more or less personal experience to contribute. But just because an issue affects someone else's friend or family member and not mine does not mean I should not care or should not try to discuss a topic. Many important movements for change or justice rely on the dissemination of information among the general population and the engagement of a broad group of individuals, not just those with their own skin in the game.

Personally, I try to write about issues based on population information, but I can see how this could easily offend someone who does not fall within the bounds of the high-level statistic I am using. I do ask that readers give me some grace when it comes to this statistical issue and try to think critically as you yourself read. If I write that 60% of a population falls under a certain umbrella, I hope you will remember that means that 40% fall outside that umbrella. Additionally, consider whether the statistic I present is stating a causation or a correlation. Consult multiple sources yourself, if that will help you form a more complete opinion. I also try to use multiple sources when time allows and to site these sources; I encourage you to check them out for yourself and to judge their validity. If a statistic is obviously skewed to me, I try to track it down and make some sort of comment about my observation of the potential issue (such as noting a small sample size), but this is also the reader's responsibility when trying to understand almost any piece. We should all use our analytic thinking skills to evaluate arguments.



Ultimately, my blog represents my own opinion. I am biased. I freely admit it. I have my own motivations, experiences, and tendencies. As a writer, I need to consider the implications of using statistics and be careful/honest in how I present arguments based on the numbers. But that also means you need to engage your mind to judge the validity of the statistical statements you read to form your own opinion. It's kind of like reading the newspaper with an eye for the truth that even some articles presented as fact are actually opinion. Shocking, I know! And if you find a journal piece or a news article that counters something that I have written personally, by all means, share it! I love a lively and respectful discussion!


Cartoons copied from: http://lovestats.wordpress.com/dman/
For originals, see Dilbert or XKCD.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sleep is Important to Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight....Again


You may recall that I recently wrote about a study showing that sleep may affect the expression of "obesity genes." Today, I read about two other recent studies once again highlighting the link between sleep and overall health/weight.

According to the first study, conducted at Columbia University, when your brain is sleep-deprived, you are more likely to crave junk food. This study used an MRI to compare brain activity in 25 volunteers after getting a good night's rest and again after a night with four hours of sleep. The researchers ran scans while showing the subjects various images of unhealthy and healthy foods. When participants were sleep-deprived, the parts of their brains associated with craving and reward were more active than when they had more sleep, particularly when looking at the images of unhealthy foods. One hypothesis is that a tired brain is looking for an energy pickup as though it were food deprived. Other recent studies may lend credence to these findings, showing that those who are sleep-deprived tend to snack more and gain more weight. Scientists are still trying to determine the possible hormonal and appetite factors that trigger these effects.

The second study, conducted at UC Berkeley, showed that higher order brain functions associated with decision-making are inhibited in those who are sleep deprived, which in turn affects the food choices a person makes. This study was similar to the above in using MRI imaging to determine 23 participants' desires for various foods after being well rested versus being awake for twenty four hours. After being awake for the extended period, participants expressed a stronger preference for unhealthy foods. However, not only were subjects' brains tested for heightened pleasure-seeking activity (as in the above study), but also for decision-making activity. The researchers found that pleasure-seeking activity was not increased, but decision-making activity was diminished, and this may have played a greater role in the ability to weigh healthy versus unhealthy choices.


It sounds like both studies say that sleep deprivation affects food choice, but one attributes this to craving/reward and the other to decision-making (but not craving/reward). So why the difference? Well, one thing to remember is that these were both fairly small studies, so more extensive work needs to be undertaken to draw definitive conclusions. Another consideration, pointed out directly in the article, is that there could be a difference depending on the amount of sleep deprivation; in the Columbia study, participants had four hours of sleep, whereas in the Berkeley study, subjects had no sleep. Perhaps both craving/reward and decision-making play a role in food choice, but decision-making impairment becomes more pronounced relative to the reward centers of the brain as sleep deprivation increases. Right now, there is no concrete information on whether this theory is correct, but it is certainly worth exploring. As mentioned above, both studies still need additional confirmation with future research.

Although we should read these results as very preliminary and wait to see what future research either confirms or disputes, we can still observe that both studies in some way support past research showing a link between sleep and weight. So once again, the lesson is, take care of your body with some rest!


Image credit: http://www.healthytimesblog.com/2011/03/5-amazing-facts-about-sleep/

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cambodia Mission Trip


Dear Friends,

I am writing to tell you about an incredible opportunity my husband and I have to go to Cambodia this summer.
After Matthew has completed his degree (likely 2014), we believe that God is calling us to spend a couple of years serving abroad in missions. In the meantime, we are hoping to learn more about various parts of the world that interest us and to explore important issues that move our hearts, so that we can discern where God wants us to go and what He wants us to do when the time comes.

From August 15 - 27, we are thrilled to be taking a break from our typical routine to go on a short term mission trip to Svay Pak, Cambodia with a group from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. We will be partnering with Agape International Mission in Svay Pak, a humanitarian organization founded in 1989 that focuses on preventing child sex trafficking and restoring hope to its victims. This is done through a holistic strategy of preventing the problem, rescuing the enslaved, restoring the broken, and equipping the Church so that sex-trafficking can be eliminated forever. You can learn more about the organization at http://agapewebsite.org

As you may know from previous blog posts, I believe that human trafficking is linked to human health in a profound way, affecting both the physical and emotional well being of its victims, particularly if those exploited are children. Svay Pak, the village where we will spend most of our time, is considered a notorious brothel district and a "destination location" for pedophiles, located a short drive outside the capital of Cambodia. Over the last five years, the government of Cambodia, assisted by a number of NGO's (such as International Justice Mission), has successfully shut down some of the brothels in the area that exploit children as young as five years old. Yet much is left to be done to eliminate this practice and to restore the community. It is believed that approximately one third of the prostitutes in Svay Pak are under age 18 and that as many as half are infected with HIV. Our friends who have gone to Svay Pak in past years have reported that pimps could sometimes be seen openly waiting outside the kids' club for the songs and games to be over in order to pick up the girls they traffick.

Our group will work with Agape to put on a daily kids’ club for the children of Svay Pak (where kids can just be kids), to plan a celebration at Agape’s safe house for recovering victims, to teach computer or other skills with which we have been gifted, to encourage those who are ministering in Svay Pak already, and to otherwise meet any needs of the community as we are able during our stay. And of course, we will be traveling not just to give to the community, but also to learn from the community - to build relationships, learn about the culture, understand their struggles, celebrate their strengths.

In order for us to go to Cambodia, we need to find a faithful group of people committed to praying for us before, during, and after the trip, in addition to raising approximately $2,900 each ($5,800 total) to pay for travel, lodging, and other ministry expenses. We would be honored if you would consider partnering with us on this mission to fight against human trafficking.

Would you be willing to join our prayer team and/or to support us financially? Donations are tax deductible, and any amount you are able to contribute is significant in helping us reach our fundraising goal. Donations can be made online at www.mppc.org/calendar/cambodia-mission-trip, or checks can be made out to Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and mailed to:

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
Cambodia Missions Trip
950 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, CA  94025

For checks, please include a separate note in the envelope indicating that it should be designated towards Matthew & Kristen Campbell for the Cambodia mission trip. All donations are non-refundable and must be received by the church before July 31, 2012 to go towards our trip. Any donations received after that date will not go towards our trip and will instead be used for other mission endeavors at the church.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.


Sincerely,