Two years ago, Hope for Justice received two sisters into our Cambodia Lighthouse after they were rescued from exploitation on the streets.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were trafficked for forced begging on the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Not knowing the dangers, their parents had put the girls into the hands of two older women – traffickers – with the hope that at least their children could get food and survive.
At the time, their parents’ recycling business had collapsed due to prolonged lockdowns, and after selling their cart as scrap metal to buy food, the family was living on the street. The parents felt they had no choice.
Just a few weeks ago, our case managers visited the two young survivors, now aged seven and 11, for a follow-up visit.
The girls are receiving help from another non-governmental organization (NGO) that is providing educational support.
The young survivors first came into Hope for Justice’s care in 2020 after being referred to us by the police. Officers had discovered them on the streets and the female traffickers had been unable to prove that they were their legal guardians.
It was several weeks before we eventually located the family. Our case managers worked with the parents to help them re-establish their business and find them safe, permanent housing. Meanwhile, a foster family cared for the children, until the parents were stabilised and the girls were able to return home and start back at school.
Maggie continued: “This case has been an example of great team work and collaboration with foster care and education agencies to enable this family to survive and thrive – despite the setbacks they faced as a result of COVID-19. The most important thing is that the girls were set free from exploitation and their lives have been transformed.
“After a child is reintegrated back home and leaves our Lighthouse, it might be easy to forget those who returned home one or two years prior, or to wonder ‘Where are they now?’. Our case managers do a brilliant job at following up previous cases to make sure survivors are still safe and thriving back home and in their community.”