Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our projects throughout Southeast Asia. On January 14th he visited Hagar's Aftercare program in Phnom Penh:
An indication of the magnitude of the problem, GlobalGiving has a number of projects dealing with sex-trafficking victims and gender-based violence in Cambodia. In visiting these projects over the past few weeks and listening to the organizations describe how some less effective organizations in the country operate, I began to get a clear view of some things to look for in a good program for girls and young women who have gone through such horrific ordeals. The most important seemed to be a long-term commitment to reintegrating the girls into a more normal life. One could see the temptation to “wrap them up in cotton wool” (as my Scottish friend would say) to ensure they’re never hurt like that again; the staff at Hagar’s Aftercare recovery shelter give comprehensive and personalized care, with an eye each step of the way toward avoiding institutionalization.
The facilities seem like everything a young girl would want: Clean dorms, a nice classroom for the young ones, space to run around, playground equipment and even a little wading pool that they fill up on special occasions. Each girl, along with five of her peers, is assigned to a House Mother, with whom they spend 24 hours everyday to help build up a sense of consistency and trust. Counseling is available and it sounds like some great informal counseling goes on between the girls who can relate to each others' stories.
The girls were at school when I visited, the older girls in the public school, and some of the younger girls just across the street from the center. I didn’t want to distract from their studies, so we just said a quick hello to the younger girls. Twenty-five or so beaming, healthy looking faces greeted me with a very nice welcome. Though it was hard to see them knowing what they’d been through, I was happy to know they were on the road to recovery with Hagar.