More and more recruitment agencies in Cambodia and Vietnam are luring women to work abroad with the promise of high salaries. When they arrive at their new job, they discover they've been trafficked for labor. Stripped of their legal documents, they are trapped. Their employers force them to work long grueling hours, and threaten and abuse them. Some escape and wander the streets, vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse by gangs. Many end up in prison as undocumented immigrants.
Last week, 12 girls and women, ages 14 to 27 years-old, and a one month old baby were admitted to Hagar’s Recovery Shelter in Cambodia. They are returning from Malaysia after reports and evidence of abuse from their employers.
Beaten, raped, imprisoned… their stories are painful, violent, and filled with tears.
They don’t speak and cry most of the time. On their first days at Hagar they had a hard time eating rice because for two years they were forced to eat instant noodles at every meal."I am also human, so why did they give me spoiled food" stated one of the girls.
Another girl escaped and was thrown in prison because she did not have proper identification - her passport was confiscated by her employer. She gave birth in prison. The result of a street gang rape.
These girls need to feel safe, loved and whole again.
Their need for loving care is urgent. Mirror our commitment to do whatever it takes to restore a broken life with a gift today. Your support will help these girls and others like them. The long road to recovery is just beginning for them.
Giang has never known the love of a father. Her father hit her. Told her to commit suicide. And, repeatedly expressed his wish to kill her. Bombarded with this verbal and physical abuse, she couldn't live with her parents any longer. She quit school in 10th grade, found a job, and a new home. But she was still barely getting by. In August, she and her friend began working at a café in Dan Pek, Vietnam. They met a man who frequented the cafe. Several months later, he offered them a great opportunity to work for his grandmother. They accepted.
But instead, he sold them. Fortunately, border police intercepted them before they reached China, rescuing Giang and her friend.
In November, they were referred to Hagar. From the start, Giang has been very depressed. But, she has shown us glimmers of hope. Giang is very brave and has a lovely singing voice. She has shown great interest in becoming a stewardess and in learning the English language. Her dream is to secure a good job to support herself. Giang still has a long road to recovery, but Hagar will continue to provide counseling and vocational training to help her heal from the trauma and abuse she has experienced.
An investigation is underway against the man who attempted to sell her. He is serving time in jail presently.
I've been reminded recently of the extremely challenging work that Hagar social workers and counselors have to face. With limited resources, expertise, and staff, our case workers are sometimes called upon to do the impossible. Our Vietnam team has recently had to deal with runaway clients, a perpetrator who locked his wife in a cage upon coming out of jail, and a client suffering from severe panic attacks. Then, calls regarding a girl who was raped and other urgent needs. All of this is in addition to the other cases that need our attention.
I so admire all of caseworkers for their courage and their heart to do 'whatever it takes for as long as it takes' for the difficult cases that we support.
We are hosting a LIVE call with Cambodia this Tuesday, July 19th at 6:00pm (PDT) or 9:00pm (EDT). One of Hagar's managers, Sue Hanna, will share client's stories, on-the-ground issues, and take your questions.
Take this two-minute survey to become eligible. If you are one of the 25 people selected (in a random drawing), we'll email you call-in instructions this weekend.
You'll need to ACT FAST to qualify for this unique opportunity to connect with a trafficking expert in the field.
"Life is not always pink." That's what we say in Vietnam. Because life isn't always happy and carefree. I know this is true. Because I have been there. I know that life isn't perfect. But we have to find a way to stand on our own two feet and be open to what life offers us.
When I started attending Hagar's programs in Vietnam, something changed. I learned that other women have stories too. I listened to them. And I knew I wasn't alone. I could look at each woman in the shelter and see them as sisters. We are walking this journey together.
Phuong has been employed at Hagar's enterprise partner, Joma Bakery Cafe, for three months and is supporting herself now.
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