Empowering Survivors. Breaking the Cycle of Abuse.

Sopheary’s Story: A Winding Road to Freedom

As Sopheary walked through the bright neon doors of the bar, she tried to convince herself she was opening the door to a new and promising life.

From outside, the karaoke bar appeared to be a beacon of entertainment, luxury and excitement. But behind the flashing lights and dazzling smiles there lay a much darker truth. For vulnerable women, these lounges are often centres of abuse, violence and sexual exploitation.

When Sopheary was offered the job, her employer was so eager for her to start he didn’t ask her for any government identification. In that moment, she knew they were looking to hire someone desperate to find work with no other options. Someone just like her.

She knew in her bones that this job was dangerous. But what else could she do? She had no family support and no proper documentation to work anywhere else.

Growing up in extreme poverty with alcoholic parents, her past was deeply troubled. Her parents neglected her, never even bothering to apply for the basic legal documents Sopheary would need to lead a safe and self-sufficient life.

This wasn’t the first time her circumstances had made her a target. At age 17, she fell into the hands of human traffickers and was tricked into an abusive “marriage” in China.

Against all odds, Sopheary escaped her captors—but when she came back to Cambodia, her situation hadn’t changed. She remained imprisoned by her broken upbringing, unable to improve her life without taking dangerous risks.

She yearned for a fresh start, but it felt grim. Without her birth certificate, she couldn’t attend school and had little hope of finding safe employment.

Taking this job and the abuse, harassment and fear that came with it was her only option… Until Ratanak.

Today, Sopheary has made the important decision to work with us to break the vicious cycle of abuse she’s endured her whole life.

Thanks to you, she’s now receiving economic empowerment support through our Ratanak Achievement Program. This will help her to attain financial stability without putting herself in danger.

Breaking the chains of exploitation is a battle. But our staff are committed to showing Sopheary that she’s not alone in this fight.

Not only are we working hard to get her the official paperwork she needs to find safe employment, we’re also giving her the emotional support she needs to see her self-worth. Our prayer is for Sopheary to believe that she deserves kindness, respect and ultimately, a future with hope and dignity.

Your gifts are vital to empowering vulnerable survivors as they navigate the road to a better life. Thank you for caring for women like Sopheary!

An Industry of Exploitation

The “entertainment industry” in Cambodia includes karaoke bars, beer gardens, massage parlours and other businesses which often serve as fronts to sell sexual services. Exploitation of workers in this unregulated industry is rampant.

Working in this industry is dangerous for young women, as their customers are often very intoxicated men. Violence is a part of their daily work-life. Factors including poverty, limited access to other opportunities, and pressure to financially support their families, trap these women in exploitation.

Ratanak recently collaborated with a local NGO partner to engage in research about entertainment industry workers. We had the opportunity to interview over 100 women and heard their harrowing and painful stories of abuse. Our aim is to support these women, help them find healing and shift to safer employment.

*Names, images and/or some details have been altered as appropriate to protect the identities of those in our care

Thanks to the generosity of our amazing supporters, 2020 was a year filled with transformations. Despite incredible challenges this year, your gifts helped trafficking survivors return home safely and receive the care they needed to start fresh. These highlights represent real lives impacted. Thank you for everything that you make possible!


Vancouver Business Owners Support Survivors

When Peter and Tanya heard about the abuse and human trafficking happening in Cambodia, they knew they couldn’t sit back and do nothing—so they decided to give a portion of their business’ net income to the cause.

“When you’re very busy with your own family, and in our case with a business, it’s difficult to find the time or know how to make a difference. Ratanak gave us an opportunity to feel like we were involved in making true change and really important change even though we couldn’t actually be there.

It’s been one of the most rewarding things we’ve done. Our staff are also told about it, that even as they do their work they are also making a difference for a bigger cause. And they too find this very gratifying.  

 I would encourage anyone who is thinking about supporting Ratanak, to get involved and experience for yourself the joy of being part of positive change. It is a truly worthwhile organization.”  —Peter 

We are so grateful to Peter, Tanya, and their staff team for their generosity and commitment to seeing lives transformed in Cambodia.

From Our Executive Director

This Annual Report gives you a snapshot of your impact in 2020. Lives have been transformed. Young women and men have been given hope for a better future. But still, the work God has called Ratanak to in Cambodia is not easy, and it’s not finished. 

The journey for trafficking survivors from slavery to freedom to restoration is often a winding and challenging one. Our dedicated Cambodian staff are tenacious in their commitment to these brave survivors—even when their journey to recovery is complicated.

I am grateful for supporters like you who are faithfully dedicated to Ratanak’s work. Through your prayers and generous gifts, you are very much a part of our team. 

As I look ahead to 2021, I’m excited for the potential for even greater impact. We are embarking on some exciting new ventures this year, so stay tuned in the coming months to hear all about it!

Grateful for your partnership,

Graeme Illman

Executive Director

Names, images and/or some details have been altered as appropriate to protect the identities of those in our care

Foot Note: Statistics, revenue and expenses are for fiscal 2020: June 1, 2019 - May 31, 2020

Foot Note: Finances audited by KPMG LLP