“Cambodia is a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, forced labour, and domestic servitude. Poverty and debt bondage results in thousands of Cambodian children being sold and trafficked in the modern slave trade every year.”
In 2010, I visited a village in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia. I went there because the story of Vichetr Uon and his struggle to prevent child trafficking in rural Cambodia stirred something in me. Vichetr grew up in a village in rural Cambodia where many people are impoverished and are in debt bondage with loan sharks. Vichetr’s father was shot dead while trying to help the people in his village to resolve their debts with loan shark syndicates. This incident sparked the idea for Vichetr to create Sao Sary Foundation (SSF). SSF’s mission is to “to identify at risk children and provide sustainable assistance to both the children and their families”. Learn more about SSF here: http://ssf.org.kh/main/
SSF is located in a beautiful village where paddy fields are adorned with pretty rolling hills. The people are simple and their smiles are genuine. Still, behind those warm smiles are hearts that have become hard with suffering, fear and worry. Many people do not own their own land and work laboriously in the paddy fields for a measly wage. When they get sick because of the unsanitary conditions of their environment, they are forced to spend money they don’t even have. Loan sharks borrow money to vulnerable, naïve and desperate villagers. The loan sharks charge an unreasonably high interest and demand for as much as they wish. Many people in Kampong Speu are in debt bondage while still struggling to meet make ends meet on a daily basis. Most people will never be able to pay back the loan sharks and will forever be indebted to them. In many cases, families who cannot pay the money back have their children taken away from them and subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. SSF is working hard to prevent child trafficking by identifying and providing assistance to the most vulnerable children and their families. SSF is engaged in various projects to help the families earn more income. Other than that, SSF has also improved the living conditions of the villagers by water and sanitation projects. SSF is well aware that in order to prevent child trafficking, they must help improve the social and economic conditions of the villagers.
This video below illustrates the story of child trafficking in Kampong Speu, Cambodia.
Being in Kampong Speu really made me realize how lucky I am. These people have done nothing wrong except for being born in the wrong place. These children may one day be subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. There is only nothing much these children can do about their situation, but YOU can make a world of difference with very minimal effort.
Here’s what you can do:
- Share this article to relevant groups to tell more people about child trafficking and create an awareness of this issue.
- Like SSF on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/saosary/?fref=ts
- Buy bracelets, purses and handbags made by the youth from Sao Sary Foundation. You can send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to post your order. They only cost between RM10 – 35.
- Donate some money to this cause. http://ssf.org.kh/main/index.php/get-involved/make-a-donate