Family to fight human trafficking in Cambodia (January 15, 2012)

Written by Steve Macnaull

Published by Kelowna Daily Courier on Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Crebo-MacLeod family is leaving Kelowna for four months to fight human trafficking in Cambodia.

"We have a fortunate life here in Canada," says Elaine Crebo. "I wanted to take the opportunity to show our children that and get them involved in something where we go somewhere and help people who really need it."

Cambodia topped the list because Crebo and husband Tim MacLeod visited the southeast Asian country a couple of years ago. Although it's becoming a tourist destination for its physical beauty, beaches and thrumming cities, Cambodia has a huge human trafficking problem.

"We were haunted by what we saw when we were in Cambodia," says MacLeod. "We just had to go back and do what we can. Hopefully our action will inspire others to do what they can to beat this problem because it can be beaten with education, rescue and rehabilitation programs."

Criminals ingratiate themselves with poor families and promise a better life to their youngsters working as domestic help for rich families or getting on-the-job training in luxury hotels. What usually happens is the children - some as young as five, but mostly teenagers - become little more than slaves working as indentured labour or are forced into prostitution.

"What we'll be doing is working with (Calgary-based charity) Samaritan's Purse to educate poor families, teachers, ministers and government workers how to stop children being lured into human trafficking," says Crebo.

"We'll also work at the rehabilitation centres where rescued children come. That's where I see our sons (Levi, 12, and Tristan, 7) really helping by befriending these kids, reading to them and playing with them."

Samaritan's Purse is probably best known as the charity that works with Canadian schools to have students fill shoeboxes at Christmas time with school supplies and gifts to be sent to kids in poor countries.

However, the organization is also active in many poor countries fighting child abuse and human trafficking, providing safe drinking water and funding hygiene and agricultural projects.

The Crebo-MacLeods left Kelowna on the weekend and will get to Cambodia via Hong Kong, where Crebo worked for eight years writing for Culture magazine.

It's also where she adopted Levi, who's Chinese, and Tristan, who's Chinese-Thai.

To make the trip Crebo is taking a break from her job as a continuing studies program manager at UBC Okanagan and MacLeod from his work with the Provincial Emergency Program.

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