Young girls in Cambodia are trafficked to Thailand and Vietnam to beg, sell candy or flowers. Parents sometimes sell their children into involuntary slavery to serve as beggars, into brothels for commercial sexual abuse or into domestic slavery. Within Cambodia, children are trafficked for forced begging, waste scavenging and brick making. Facing dire poverty at home, these young girls who do not have the means to access education are often discovered missing from their slums, eventually.
The program covers basic English, Khmer, math, social and work skills, and provides meals. Their families receive aid to replace the teens' lost income from working on the streets at night so they can concentrate on completing the course instead of being pressured to drop out mid-way. For some girls, it's only a few months and they're full of confidence and ready to return to school. Other girls need intensive counseling and training before they dare to imagine a different future to being sold.
We've seen the majority of our families change completely from opposing school to paying for their children's fees and supporting them strongly emotionally. The change in families has come from seeing their children's enthusiasm for school, and for the community, from seeing teenagers who have graduated to bring home decent salaries from safe jobs. Each class is kept small to 13 girls so they can support one another. With a total of 26 girls in two classes, we impact over 100 family members.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
Riverkids Project website