A Daughter’s Devotion:
Srey’s Story of Resilience
For Srey, devotion to family is everything. Srey even dropped out of school at just eight years old to help support her family.
When Srey turned 17, acquaintances began to visit her father asking, “Have you considered sending Srey to China to get married? There’s a rich man who can help your family and give Srey a better life.”
Her father hesitated to send his beloved daughter away, until he learned one of Srey’s cousins had also agreed to marry a Chinese man. Srey’s heart swelled with hope—finally an opportunity to end her family’s struggles!
But her hopes were soon crushed in China. Every day for three years, Srey worked as a domestic slave in her “husband’s” home all day without breaks, and was hardly ever allowed to go outside.
Her only comfort was that her neighbour was Cambodian too! When she could, she’d sneak out to confide in her new friend.
One day, the neighbour said she had heard the mother-in-law was unhappy that Srey hadn’t given her grandchildren and planned to sell her into prostitution.
‘’Don’t try to run,” her neighbour warned. “If the police catch you, you’ll be physically abused. I think I have another way to help you.’’ Srey thanked her, imagining returning home to her family.
But she’d been deceived again for the second time in her short life. The Cambodian neighbour, her only friend, betrayed her. Srey was sold to another man. A man who would starve her for days and violently abuse her.
Miraculously, local police arrived for an inspection of their rental property and discovered Srey didn’t have proper documents. They detained her, and in a moment of unexpected joy informed her that she would be sent back to Cambodia.
I thought my daughter died because I never heard any information from her. Knowing she was alive and safe made me overjoyed!
A few years ago, Srey’s return would have been less certain or far more convoluted, but thankfully Ratanak has had the privilege of actively working alongside the Cambodian government to improve the national repatriation protocols for Cambodian trafficking survivors trapped abroad. That means survivors like Srey can now get home faster and more safely, have proper identification of their trafficking situation, and get referred to organizations like Ratanak who can help them on their healing journey.
Srey arrived back in Cambodia, eager to connect with her family. She was referred to stay in Ratanak’s transitional home where staff organized for her to be reintegrated back to her village. The first thing Srey did was call her father, her face came to life when she heard his surprised voice on the phone. “I thought my daughter died because I never heard any information from her. Knowing she was alive and safe made me overjoyed!” he said tearfully.
Through your incredible generosity, our team was able to reflect the amazing love of God to Srey and her family by also providing counseling, food packages, economic empowerment and skills training.
Today, Srey is not only continuing to recover with amazing resilience and perseverance, she’s working towards her dream of opening a small grocery store—and it’s all thanks to you!
How You Made an Impact in 2021
Because of you, 2021 was a year full of hope despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. You helped trafficking survivors return home, reunite with their families, find healing and reclaim their lives with dignity. The following numbers are a few highlights from this past year and represent lives you’ve forever changed—thank you for your incredible generosity!
The Power of Stories—Why Laura Gives
“Through my involvement with missions work, I attended a presentation about the work of Ratanak. As a former lawyer, I was keenly drawn to the justice side of things. As a member of a church focussed on global mission, I have always been interested, energized and inspired by powerful ‘God stories’ from around the world.
Ratanak’s beautiful stories of restoration provide a glimpse of what is possible, amid circumstances that seem impossible. Their Christ-centred approach means that men and women rescued from trafficking situations come to know their incredible worth, beauty and significance in Christ.
Ratanak operates holistically within communities and cares for the whole individual—body, soul and spirit. And through all of this, the organization acts with a high degree of integrity, humility, and courage. It is a beautiful reflection of the kingdom of God!
I’m so deeply appreciative of the Ratanak team for their commitment to walk the distance alongside survivors in very challenging times.” – Laura
A Message From Brian
Moving forward in life often involves separation. Children grow and leave for education or move away for their first job. As young people spread their wings, such separation is seen as part of a growing independence. Even though separation is hard, it represents progress.
Those left at home await the emails describing new experiences, we hang onto every word in Zoom calls describing new jobs and colleagues. We laugh at the colourful descriptions of food in the student dorm or the eccentric new boss. There is a lot of contact, and yet it’s not the same as being with our loved ones.
Despite all the communication we are still separated, and we long to be together. But eventually after many months of separation, finally, they return perhaps for summer vacation or Christmas. What bliss to greet and embrace them. What comfort, sitting together for hours being regaled by stories of new experiences, laughing at mistakes made and victories won.
But what if the story played out differently? What if that same young person left home bright eyed, fearful yet excited, launching off on a new beginning with that same hope of progress and a future… But there was absolutely no contact, not a phone call, not an email, not a word. Imagine the growing panic.
What if rumors also started to circulate, terrible rumors of abuse, of torment, of slavery! Days turn to months and perhaps to years. Those left at home can only lie awake at night desperately longing, tearfully praying for news, any news… all the while grieving the decisions that led to their child leaving.
However, imagine also that after years of worry and grief, you receive a phone call. It’s from someone from an organization you’ve never heard of—Ratanak. They tell you they are with your son or daughter. You are in disbelief but they assure you it’s true using specific and personal information only the family knows.
The lost has been found! The journey has indeed involved terrible suffering, but they are safe now and being cared for. You are bewildered and overjoyed as you are told that tomorrow, they will return to you. Any possibility of sleep that night is gone. But this time you lie awake daring to hope. Imagine the next day, a van pulls up outside your home. The door slides open and against all the odds, in answer to all your longings and prayers—there they are! Dropping everything, you run to them…
This is the work of Ratanak. What you see in this Annual Report is just a snapshot of all that has been accomplished over this past year. Lives have been restored and families once separated have been reunited. Thank you for making joyful homecomings a reality for so many families. As we look ahead to 2022, we are excited to continue working together to impact this nation.
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 2021: June 1, 2020 - May 31, 2021
Foot Note: Finances audited by KPMG LLP