Credit: Karl Grobl
As our project partner, our successes are your successes. Read Mandy's* story below to get a glimpse into how Doorsteps and our project partners are making an impact within the communities where they work.
At the age of 11 years old, Mandy was sent to work as an "ait ctchai" (trash collector). In 2007, Mandy's mother agreed to enroll Mandy in a community education program ran by one of Doorstep's project partners. While in the program, the leaders noticed that Mandy was a very bright and diligent girl. Upon graduation, they encouraged her to continue her studies, helped her get into another program, and provided her with an allowance to cover advanced English language lessons. After two years in this program, Mandy was very skilled in sewing and tailoring, and was already making a small profit from sales of her products.
While things were looking very positive for Mandy, her family was being strongly affected by the global financial crisis. Fewer and fewer construction jobs were available for Mandy's father, and he struggled to support his family. Around this same time, Mandy's parents were approached by someone in the community who said they could arrange a "second-wife" marriage for Mandy. They would receive U$200 up front, and then U$100 thereafter. The arrangement would mean Mandy would have to live with an Asian businessman living in Phnom Penh as his "second wife" (mistress). Mandy's family was unsure what to do.
Mandy approached one of her teachers for advice. She knew her family needed money and wanted to help, but was afraid of marrying a man she didn't know. In response to Mandy's concern, the partner organization involved in Mary's case worked with her family to discuss alternatives to the arranged marriage. In the end, through a partnership between Doorsteps and the community partner, they arranged for a U$80 microbusiness loan to help Mandy's family set up a sandwich cart. Within four months, Mandy was able to use her monthly allowance and income from selling her products to pay off the small loan.
As a child initially working as a trash collected and then exposed to child trafficking, Mandy's life has been transformed. Her discovered talent in sewing gives her an income higher than that of a factory worker (where she may be vulnerable to additional exploitation). Her entire family is benefiting from the microbusiness loan, and are now better off, protecting her other siblings from other potential child trafficking situations.
Thank you for your support! Stay tuned for additional updates, and please consider spreading the word to friends and families about supporting this project.
*Names and identities have been changed to protect the privacy and dignity of partners & their clients.