Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia

by Hagar USA, which supports the work of Hagar International
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Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia
Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia
Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia
Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia
Proud to Be a Girl: Empowering Girls in Cambodia
Hagar Cambodia - Lina's Story
Hagar Cambodia - Lina's Story

Thank you for your generosity!

We are excited to let you know that in the last 6 months, Hagar Cambodia have been able to take in an additional 80 survivors of human trafficking.

These survivors were supported with:

  • Intake and temporary accommodation
  • Clothing
  • Daily Food Support
  • Sanitation Materials (For COVID-19 Prevention)
  • Health checkup and medical Support
  • Case Management
  • Trauma Informed Counselling
  • Family identification and connection
  • Reintegration Support
  • Legal Support
  • Job Training & Placement and small business development

Here is Lina's story - an inspiraitonal survivor of human trafficking:

Lina was just 20 years old when she was lured in by a broker, Klok, with the promise of a high salary and ‘all expenses covered’ trip to China to begin an illustrious new job. However, this was all just a disguise for the fact that she had been brokered to marry a Chinese man.

In excitement and not knowing her fate, Lina fled Cambodia without even telling her family. After having to meet multiple suspicious characters at various border points to slowly make her way to China, Lina started to get a strong feeling that something was not right.

Surely enough, when Lina arrived in China and found out she was being forced to marry a local man, she was shocked and asked to immediately return to Cambodia. However, he threatened that she would have to pay back all of the costs associated with bringing her there. There was no way that Lina could procure that kind of money. Therefore, Lina reluctantly stayed and married him.

Shortly after, Lina was forced to work as a construction worker under abusive conditions. Furthermore, not only did her husband often beat her, the other six family members living in the household would also beat her when they wanted something done for them and Lina didn’t finish the task to their expectations.

Lina was completely trapped. On top of that, she then got pregnant and the abuse still didn’t stop.

Desperate to escape and explaining her condition to the broker, Klok agreed to move her to live with someone who was supposedly a ‘good man’. However, he was even more aggressive and abusive.

What more could Lina have to endure?

Well, there was more. In a state of complete helplessness, Lina fled to the local police station, only to be put in jail for 3 months with very little food and in a cell with very poor sanitation.

Fortunately, Lina was rescued and brought home by Cambodia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth (MoSVY). After two very long weeks of quarantine, she was finally brought into Hagar’s care.

“They got my body, my soul and my hope. But I am really happy when I first arrived Cambodia and I am so grateful to have warm welcomed by Hagar’s team and staying at the Home of Love [Hagar’s Shelter]. I feeling free and loved by the foster mother and Hagar staffs. They love me, care for me, smile at me, and encourage me to stay strong, which give me hope and gain back my strength to continue my life, and I love her too,” – Lina

Lina found a home to heal.

Once Lina walked through Hagar’s doors, she was supported with a dedicated case worker, food, clothing, medical care, sanitation, legal advice and trauma-informed counselling. When she started to feel stronger emotionally and physically, Lina also entered Hagar’s economic empowerment program, learning hairdressing. She was eventually able to stand on her own two feet, working as a hairdresser and was also able to financially support her family.

Lina not only discovered healing but was also empowered to support her family and community.

 

“Hagar helps me to experience love and has courage me to fight for the future. I wants to learn and open a salon business at my community so that I can earn income to support my family. I wish I can do something that can protect other young women from being trafficked like me,” – Lina.

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Key Results (latest 6 months):

  • 245school girls were able to access a community mobile reading center during COVID-19
  • 104 foster clients and their foster parents received training on child protection and attention, discriptionation against children and positive parenting

Survivor Story:

One day when Kanha was on her way home from school, a man approached her and forced her to follow him to a quiet and less populated space. There, he raped her, leaving Kanha both physically hurt and emotionally traumatised. The trauma of this event resulted in Kanha having terrible nightmares and reflecting on the event often. She also faced discrimination from people in her community and her own family who all looked at her differently as a result. It was in this season of her life (at 17 years of age) that Kanha got referred to Hagar Cambodia and she received support services from the team in Battambang. 

The Hagar Cambodia team supported Kanha to recover from her trauma. She received case management and counselling services and Hagar also helped and encouraged her continue her studies as well (which her family had wanted her to discontinue). She is now working for another NGO that Hagar partners with as a child educator in her community and teaches others about child protection and development.

Kanha is now healed and thriving and wants to use her skills and experiences to help other children who have little opportunity and challenges in their lives too. She is due to finish her university study at the end of 2021.

She says of her time with Hagar:

“I got a lot of support for my emotion and economy, especially my study till I am able to use my knowledge to support back to my community children in my provinces…I am happy to share back my resource and knowledge to my people and I do hope that one day I will fully become the full support to them.”

Kanha is truly an example of what the long-term love and support of Hagar donors and staff can achieve in a person’s life. Together, we have seen transformation!

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Since our last update, the following miilestones were achieved within the Empower Girls in Cambodia program:

  • 85 school-age clients received appropraite formal education opportunities
  • 30 young women received job placements or small business support to improve their income during the economic crisis, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 23 female clients were represented by a lawyer to support them with bringing their perpetrator to justice

Here is one story of hope.

 

Kanha's Story

One day when Kanha was on her way home from school, a man approached her and forced her to follow him to a quiet and less populated space. There, he raped her, leaving Kanha both physically hurt and emotionally traumatised. The trauma of this event resulted in Kanha having terrible nightmares and reflecting on the event often. She also faced discrimination from people in her community and her own family who all looked at her differently as a result. It was in this season of her life (at 17 years of age) that Kanha got referred to Hagar Cambodia and she received support services from the team in Battambang.

The Hagar Cambodia team supported Kanha to recover from her trauma. She received case management and counselling services and Hagar also helped and encouraged her continue her studies as well (which her family had wanted her to discontinue). She is now working for another NGO that Hagar partners with as a child educator in her community and teaches others about child protection and development.

Kanha is now healed and thriving and wants to use her skills and experiences to help other children who have little opportunity and challenges in their lives too. She is due to finish her university study at the end of 2021.

She says of her time with Hagar:

“I got a lot of support for my emotion and economy, especially my study till I am able to use my knowledge to support back to my community children in my provinces…I am happy to share back my resource and knowledge to my people and I do hope that one day I will fully become the full support to them.”

Kanha is truly an example of what the long-term love and support of Hagar donors and staff can achieve in a person’s life. Together, we have seen transformation!

Links:

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Makara is seven, and her big sister Sopheak is nine. They live in a rural province in Cambodia with their grandmother, who they moved in with a couple of years ago when their parents moved away. In the months that followed their move, both Makara and Sopheak were raped by a relative.

The girls had experienced severe trauma and were referred to Hagar for comprehensive care. Our case manager ensured that both Makara and Sopheak were safe and received trauma counselling, as well as school support and daily food support. Their case was brought to trial, and Hagar’s legal officer carefully explained what they could expect during the court process, and prepared the girls extensively so that they wouldn’t be re-traumatised throughout it.

“At first I was scared of the people in the courtroom, but they talked to me very kindly. I was happy to have my mum, grandma, my counsellor, the legal officer and my lawyer with me in court. If I went there alone, I would have been scared of court.”- Makara.

“Both girls testified very clearly and confidently in Court. They are very brave and I am really proud of them.”- Sotheary, Hagar’s Legal Officer

At the conclusion of the trial, the perpetrator was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for rape with aggravating circumstances. Now, Makara and Sopheak have been able to return to a sense of normalcy. The girls love to play hide and seek, and Sopheak loves to dance. Sopheak helps around the house after school and teaches Makara to read and write; she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
We are committed to walking the whole journey with Sopheak and Makara, and many women and girls like them.

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At only 20 years old, Ryma owns one of the most popular hair and beauty salons in town. Although it’s a new venture, Ryma is full of hope for how it will provide for her in the future. She didn't have that sense of hope when she first came to Hagar.

Ryma grew up in a province on the border of Cambodia and Thailiand. Her parents were subsistence farmers and were often out farming. They rarely had time to watch over her and her six siblings, and she often felt unsafe as she travelled to and from school.

One day in the middle of the summer, a high ranking soldier kidnapped her. She was 17 years old. He raped her multiple times over the two days that he kept her. She was locked up in his living quarters and begged to be let free but he refused. He injured her face, eyes and stomach. Ryma was afraid he would kill her.

After two days, the soldier finally released her and took her back to her home, on condition that she lied and said she had had an accident on the way home. Ryma agreed, but as soon as she arrived home, she told her mother what had happened. When the soldier found out she had told her parents, he said he would marry her. But her parents said no, they wanted justice for their daughter.

They refused to marry her off and filed a complaint at the provincial court against him with support from ADHOC. The man bribed the court to pay a fine of $5,000 and he was released, due to his high rank in the army.

Ryma was referred to Hagar where she was placed in a secure home for women who have survived abuse. She stayed there for over a year, where she slowly started regaining self-worth, belief in herself and a better future.

“Hagar counsellors made me realise my potential, they helped me process what I went through and I feel better. I used to feel worried and scared, but I began talking to more people and opening up about the happiness of everyday life, and opportunities for me here"

Ryma excelled during her catch up education. That fall, Ryma was reintegrated back into her community, where she continued to receive close counselling and mentoring from Hagar. With advice from her case manager, Ryma was encouraged to think about her future. She decided to train as a hairdresser. Recently, she married a man who loves her very much.

“I’ve also had a lot of time to think about my ordeal and how I could help prevent other girls in being in the same vulnerable place I was in. I understand more about personal safety and tell all my friends about how they should be vigilant, yet bold and strong.”

Additional quotes:

“I don’t feel too anxious anymore. I want to focus on the future, and show that women like me can still be business women and earn an income for my future family. It’s not because I suffered abuse that I will let my life stop”

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Organization Information

Hagar USA, which supports the work of Hagar International

Location: Charlotte, NC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Hagar_USA
Project Leader:
Jennifer Valliant
Communications Specialist
Charlotte, NC United States
$7,930 raised of $50,000 goal
 
121 donations
$42,070 to go
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