This project, Awaken, reaches into Phnom Penh's slum areas, working with women in the sex industry. The goal is to identify two women eager to make life changes. They will receive healthcare, education, love/nurture, vocational training, housing and more. This program is a branch of Sak Saum's current program assisting the vulnerable and exploited in Cambodia. While Sak Saum works with all forms of trafficking, this new program focuses solely on prostitutes working in desperately poor areas.
Phnom Penh's slum areas are home to hundreds, even thousands, of women working in the sex industry. With limited job options, women are often forced to seek work in karaoke bars/massage parlours that act as fronts for prostitution. Many are homeless and victims of physical, sexual and verbal abuse from their clients. Many are also mothers and their children are at high risk of abuse/trafficking. Awaken's pilot project offers a new life/holistic restoration for two sex workers and their families.
The Awaken project provides education, healthcare, housing, food supplements, vocational training and more in an effort to see women leave prostitution behind and embrace a hopeful future that can bring prosperity to their own lives. We also encourage the women to communicate what they have learned with their families and communities. If the women have children, their children will be cared for within the project as well.
In its pilot year, Awaken will focus on two girls to build the project on a strong foundation. Our hope is to grow the program to 12 girls a year. In addition, we anticipate opportunities to work with their extended families. And, since we are focusing our outreach on one slum area, we hope over time to deepen and expand our influence in that area with English classes and other opportunities for community development.