Each year in Cambodia, thousands are trafficked and exploited.
You can help build a Space for Hope to empower the bravest people we know – young women who have survived exploitation.
We’re launching a new project to build a safe and loving home for those who have been exploited – a “Space for Hope”. It is a specially designed building dedicated to supporting survivors of exploitation on their journey of healing. It will empower young women who were once vulnerable, exploited and oppressed, so that they can live thriving lives full of dignity & hope.
This is about more than a building. It is about nurturing love and restoring the dreams of lives once marked by hopelessness. It is about increasing our reach and further empowering Cambodians who were robbed of their freedom.
Cambodia has a long history of exploitation and trauma. Today, poverty and limited access to education has made thousands of Cambodians some of the most vulnerable in Southeast Asia to trafficking and exploitation.
Sexual violence and domestic abuse are a societal norm. Young men and women from impoverished families in rural villages are trafficked to urban centres both inside and outside the country. Often lacking education and job skills, they feel trapped in situations of exploitation with no other alternative for income to support their families.
Our Response: The Ratanak Achievement Program
After survivors of exploitation have escaped or been rescued, they still face a long journey of healing to find freedom psychologically and emotionally. The effects of repeated trauma are long-term, and can last for years. They endure social stigma and discrimination on a daily basis, and must still find ways to support their families despite fewer opportunities for jobs or an education.
Since 2012, the Ratanak Achievement Program (RAP) has been committed to equipping survivors of exploitation with vocational and life skills training, empowering them to pursue their dreams and live independently. Last year, your prayers and support helped 61 young Cambodian women who had been trafficked overseas. They received compassion, dignity and a range of supportive services through RAP. This is the largest number of survivors that RAP has ever supported in 1 year. It is our deepest prayer that this Space for Hope will serve even more Cambodians.
Sovanna is quiet and gentle, kind-hearted and quick to help others. She honors her parents and loves her family dearly. It pained her to see them suffer in poverty, and so to help support them, she started working at a karaoke bar – today’s form of adult entertainment.
There are karaoke bars all over Phnom Penh now. Depending on the quality, the room will likely be $5 or more. The more upscale ones allow you to choose from a parade of girls once they seat you in your private room. Clients may negotiate a price, pay a “bar fine” to take the girls off premises where they are often violently exploited, robbed of their dignity.
Sovanna was rescued and brought to a partner organization before coming to RAP to learn job skills and support herself and her family. Since coming, she has started working for a bakery making cakes. She faithfully sends her mom money every month to help support her family. After being trapped in the darkest of places, she has graduated from the program and is now thriving!
This new Space for Hope will allow RAP to expand and confront even more forms of exploitation, including international sex and labour trafficking, domestic sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in the entertainment industry. It will provide short-term and long-term care, outreach services and will also increase opportunities for community collaboration.
Our short-term care at the centre provides a way out for women trapped in situations of exploitation, offering them the support they need to start new lives.
- Care will be provided for up to 40 young women between the ages of 18-35
- Temporary housing at the centre
- Emergency medical services
- Emergency Care Packages
- Reintegration services
- Counselling services
- Access to micro-loans and employment opportunities
The road to recovery can be a long journey. Long-term care builds a strong foundation for healing as survivors reintegrate back into society.
- Care within community housing for up to 20 survivors on a long-term basis
- Counselling, social work and art therapy
- Educational opportunities including high school and post-secondary
- Vocational training
The entertainment industry is often a front for sexual exploitation in Cambodia. The expanded RAP program will provide outreach to beer gardens, karaoke TVs (KTVs), and massage parlors, providing workers with exit strategies from exploitive situations.
- Regular outreach visits and surveys at various entertainment industry locations in the community
- Individual and group counselling
- Family counselling
- Art therapy sessions
- Life-skills seminars on sexuality, healthy dating, conflict resolution, spiritual formation, nutrition and other topics
- Planned outings for spiritual and relational encouragement, with those still working in fronts for sex trafficking
The centre will facilitate meetings between government officials, police and other non-profit organizations, an integral part of rescuing survivors and preventing further abuse.
- Coordinate responses with partner NGOs internationally and locally to more effectively respond to situations of trafficking
- Raise awareness in the surrounding community about trafficking issues, responses and the services we provide
- Recruitment of \’Community Hero\’ trafficking prevention workers who will conduct training with the community on how to avoid situations of trafficking and exploitation
- Participation in key government meetings to encourage collaboration with officials
You have the opportunity to step into a journey…
with young women who have experienced indescribable pain and injustice. You can play a part in changing their lives and giving hope to those without. For 25 years, Ratanak International has aimed to serve the Cambodian people and walk alongside them as they rebuild their nation from the ground up. We have watched in awe as God\’s light shone in the darkness of brothel communities and witnessed lives transformed as we defied inequality and its grasp on lives.
We invite you to step out in faith with us and help create a special space dedicated to empowering survivors and confronting exploitation.
\”Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.\” – Isaiah 1:17
We are grateful to our Cambodian-Canadian volunteer for being the face of survivors who, for their security and dignity, cannot be identified.