Even before the invitation was made at church that Sunday, Linda Vang knew she needed to be an Alongsider.
For several years, she had watched her older sister, along with other young Christians in the community, mentor younger kids at crucial moments of their lives.
She had also seen the little brothers and sisters slowly learn to trust their Alongsiders over time. Linda longed to be an Alongsider—but she had to wait. She was not yet old enough.
And so wait, Linda did. But not passively. Her heart of compassion led her to teach at the church pre-school, early each morning, which provided a critical option for children in the community to start school, when they could not afford the means to do otherwise.
Now 21, Linda Vang is not only a dependable Alongsider, but also a university student at the nation’s most distinguished Law School.
With an older brother in prison, innocent of the crime for which he has been incarcerated, Linda hopes to play a role in changing Cambodia’s troubled judicial system.
Her brother, Dial, is due to be released this
December. After five years without being together, Dial will come home to a sister that has not simply awaited his
return, but a sister that has actively pursued justice—a sister in training to be
I watched as Linda walked down the road, made up of broken crimson bricks, with 5-year old Gang Ea. Looking at her little sister as she took her hand, the Alongsider gave Gang Ea a warm smile of reassurance. Gang Ea— an only child living with her grandmother and extended family, in a Phnom Penh slum—mimicked the smile back to Linda. Hand-in-hand, Linda and Gang Ea walked down the familiar walkway leading out of the church together.
[Written by Hanna Tzou, interning with Alongsiders in Cambodia.]